Top critical review
5 of 6 people found this helpful
Something of a disappointment
on 19 January 2014
I'd already read the sequel to this book, and quite enjoyed it, so felt a bit let down by this. There's nothing drastically wrong with it, but it came across as flat and unengaging. This may be because the events of the Crimean War are better known to me than the situation in India (the subject of the second book), and so I'm already familiar with a lot of factual accounts, many of them - such as Russell's accounts - more interesting than this, which seemed like a re-hash a lot of the time. It's true that Raglan was rather a dead loss, that Cardigan was a martinet, and that many of the senior officers were less than capable, but the rather sweeping condemnation of the whole class is unjustified. The descriptions of the conditions feel more like padding than substance, and again there are better factual accounts in articles, memoirs, letters and diaries. Even the central plotline - impostor in fear of discovery - is better handled elsewhere (in the second book, for example). Those who enjoy military historical fiction will still find a lot to enjoy - notably the character of the central character, Lark, for instance - and there's not much point thinking about the book this might have been; and I'll stick with the series.