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The Mutiny [Hardcover]

Julian Rathbone
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 Jan 2007
For its British population, the India that swelters in the late spring of 1857 is a place of amateur theatricals, horseracing and flirtations under the aegis of the omnipotent East India company. But a brutal awakening lies in store for the complacent British: one May night, after thirty years of abuse, the East India Company's native soldiers rise up against their British officers. Thus begins the most savage episode in our imperial history. Caught up in the violence is pretty Sophie Hardcastle, a young wife and mother newly arrived from England. As she searches for her infant son, missing in the chaos, Sophie finds herself bearing witness to atrocities on both sides. Moving, sombre and thrilling, Rathbone's tale is told on a grand scale, ranging from the Cannings in Government House to the heroism of the humblest soldiers and peasants. It is as exhilarating as any Victorian adventure story, and yet, with its unflinching examination of religious fantacism and the horrors of war, THE MUTINY also carries a powerful message for the modern world.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; First Edition edition (18 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316731137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316731133
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 15.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,233,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Ambitious, sweeping ... The British are very convincingly drawn.
Rathbone also elicits great sympathy for the Indian mutineers' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Enjoyable and exciting to read ... Rathbone reveals himself to be
a novelist of skill, compassion and imagination'
-- tls TLS

'India [is] elegantly and luminously brought to life in the
consistently scintillating prose of this novel of real accomplishment' -- The Times

'One of the best historical novelists around'
-- Herald

'The Mutiny is fiction that movingly reanimates the history upon
which it draws'
-- Sunday Times

'The fierce drama, complexity and enigma of the Indian Mutiny make
it the most compelling of historical settings'
-- Waterstones Books Quarterly

Book Description

* A devastating portrait of a love affair played out at the height of one of the most violent episodes in British colonial history --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but it isn't his best 6 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel is about the Indian Mutiny, but like all the novels about that sad event the author has a problem.

How to get from Merut to Cawnpore and on to the final act to Jansi without getting involved in the important but brutal and boring fighting around Delhi where the mutiny was settled.

At every step the author seems to be conscious of at George McDonald Fraser's novel 'Flashman in the Great Game', and insists on dropping hints about it.

The personalities aren't terribly well defined and the English ladies seem to almost blend into one another. The ending seems almost rushed as if he isn't concentrating and just wants it to be over.

All in all it's readable but it isn't 'The Last English King'...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great historical source in an excellent read. 31 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book appears to have been so very well researched and put together that the reader will wonder if they or the author was actually present during this course of historical events in India.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge in scope, enjoyable in detail 29 Feb 2012
Two of the best novels on the Mutiny are JG Farrell's Siege of Krishnapur and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman in the Great Game. Farrell's is a tightly corralled tale homing in on a single fictional event, while Fraser somehow manages to get his anti-hero to most of the major battles of that sprawling conflict that enveloped the cities of the north central plain. This week I finally got round to reading a third novel of the period, Julian Rathbone's The Mutiny.

I've always been a big fan of Rathbone. He writes superbly crafted, often very funny books normally with a single main character involved in one of the world's great events. His hero is unscrupulous, and never dull, and the stories are prone to eccentric changes of direction that keep the reader guessing. What struck me about The Mutiny were the parallels with Fraser's Flashman novel, in fact, the devious, philandering villain of Tom Brown's Schooldays even gets a mention. Rathbone skilfully pulls together the roots of the conflict, showing how religion, corruption and exploitation combined in an explosive mix whose potential for damage eluded the complacent rulers of the Raj. He solves the problem of the Mutiny's scale by telling the story from multiple points of view. Expectant mothers Sophie Hardcastle and Catherine Dixon show us Meerut, where the violence began, their children vanish, rescued from certain death by Lavanyah, Stephen Hardcastle's wetnurse. The children somehow reach Cawnpore, where the Indian girl is immediately ostracised, and endure the terrible siege and betrayal. For most of the book, Rathbone deliberately underplays the horrors inflicted on white and Asian alike, but in the massacre that follows Cawnpore the bloodshed is quite graphic, an odd contrast to an event that Fraser conveyed in a single line.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sobering and a really good read 1 Jan 2010
By Jane
This is a powerful, moving and (of course) meticulously researched account of a horrifying time which will forever make me think differently about the way our ancestors behaved. Rathbone was apolgetic for feeling he couldn't know what the Indians really made of events but his account seemed pretty ballanced to me. My only criticism is that, in several places, there seems to have been clumsy editing and phrases appear that I can't imagine an Englishman living in Hampshire would use: I suspect a heavy-handed American editor who didn't respect the author's 'voice'. Finally - how sad it is that Rathbone died in 2008. This is a loss to quality British writing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very instructive, but not like his other stories 25 Jun 2008
I am a great fan of Julian Rathbone's novels, not least because I know I will come away from them having learned a great deal about the period of history in which the novel is based. This one is different, at times I felt almost bogged down in the historical facts, the troop movements etc, it was as though the characters were secondary to the tale at times, instead of the characters themselves drawing the story on. Another aspect which was missing from this story, which I enjoyed very much in the other books, was the element of gentle leg-pulling on the part of the author. On the whole, a well written account of one of history's darkest hours.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange but rewarding book 1 July 2009
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I must admit I was at first a bit surprised by this book. Having read quite a few other books by Rathbone ('The Last English King', 'Joseph', 'Kings of Albion', and 'A Very English Agent') I was probably expecting more of the same: elaborately plotted, meticulously researched historical novels about key moments or periods in (English) history, with well-developed characters and quite a bit of action.

Somehow, this book is different, which is not to say it's less good but does mean it takes a bit of getting used to. Many aspects of the above-mentioned novels are present here as well: although there's only a handful of main characters there's quite a lot of minor characters too, and as the story jumps in time and location from one chapter to the next this can become become confusing (in other words: an intricate plot and story-line, a hundred pages into the book I was happy I had started taking notes from the very start). On consideration, what is perhaps the main difference from the other Rathbone-novels I've read is that in 'The Mutiny' there's a larger amount of 'fact' and less 'fiction'. At certain times you may even get the impression you're reading a history book rather than a historical novel. This effect is heightened by the fact that Rathbone uses a very detached, matter-of-fact style. The descriptions of gruesome events such as the massacre at the Bibigarh are given with a sort of scientific detachment, which makes them all the more horrific to read about.

However, I'd like to stress that this still is a very good novel! It ranges across time and place, takes into account both sides in the conflict, vividly brings colonial India to life, and once I got used to the particular style kept me reading on until well into the night.

For those of you interested in the subject of the Indian Mutiny: another, completely different in style but equally great novel you might consider is 'The Siege of Krishnapur' by J.G. Farrell.
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