Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Read: "The Sabre's Edge" by Allan Mallinson

Finished The Sabre's Edge by Allan Mallinson, 1585675334, 2003.

'03 copyright? What the heck... I thought this was the latest and greatest.

An okay book. I enjoyed a couple of the other novels in the Matthew Hervey series much more. There is not a whole lot of action going on in this novel. Previous novels had more of a mix between the Army society and manners and field/battle antics. Sabre's is more manners.

This is another novel - like Nightrunners of Bengal - set in the early 1800s that cover the weirdness of British culture. Hervey has been in India a few years with the Sixth Light Dragoons and is detailed to a General's staff before the seaborn invasion of Rangoon. After being wounded, Hervey returns to the Dragoons and is sent to Central India where he ends up in the siege and attack of the fortified city of Bhurtpore.

The fact that my geographic knowledge of the cities and regions of India is poor does not much matter. Mallinson gives good description of the terrain and people to make up for that ignorance. But, the other descriptions of people and plot are not so interesting. Previous novels taught a lot about horses, cavalry, and the details and oral teaching history of both. Sabre's spends more focus on Hervey's changing views on Army leadership and some of it's poor leaders. The side story of his "bibi" - his Indian mistress - his interesting. A bibi is accepted as okay by British society but only if she is kept outside the base and out of sight. An officer marrying a bibi would be ostracized; never mind taking her back to England. Mallinson does not cover that storyline too much, which is probably good, I would have gotten bored with the storyline.

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