Back of the Book:
New Year's Eve, 1856. As Captain Rodney Savage of the 13th Rifles, Bengal Native Infantry, celebrates the start of 1857 with his wife and friends in the isolated cantonment of Bhowani, news comes of crisis that will have terrifying and widespread repercussions: the Rajah of the neighbouring native state of Kishanpur has been assassinated, and the Rani has thirty-five of the culprits garroted. With unrest mounting, the British have no option but to send troops to protect her and her young son. In the following months, as tension erupts into violence and the British begin to wonder whether even their closest servants and trustworthy, Rodney has good cause to remember the quiet comment of Caroline Langford, visitor from England: "India is your palace, but you live shut up in little rooms like the Bhowani Cantonment, and the next English room is always away at other end of the place somewhere."
Combining the flare of the true story-teller with an intuitive sense of history born of his own deep knowledge and love of India, John Masters re-creates the horror of the Indian Mutiny that was to mark the end of British complacency in the huge subcontinent which they had thought their own. Never again would they feel so secure amid a native population that vastly outnumbered them. The seeds of discontent had been sown, to bear fruit ninety years later in India's painfully won independence.
First published in 1951, only four years after the end of the Raj, Nightrunners of Bengal remains as vividly readable as any modern novel of suspense.
"The Best historical novel about the Indian Mutiny that I have ever read"
John Raymond, Sunday Times
ALTHOUGH most of the incidents in this story of the Indian Mutiny are drawn form local tradition, official reports and contemporary letters, this book is a work of fiction. My object has been to make the fictional whole present a true perspective of fact-the facts of environment, circumstance and emotion. In general, the people actually met with in the story, and the places that remain offstage are or were real, and notes on many of them are included in the glossary. Where I have had to use a Hindustani Word I have tried to make its meaning clear in the context; the precise meaning of such words, and their pronunciation, are given in the glossary.
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