A SOLDIER OF INDIA by Tom Gibson

A SOLDIER OF INDIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Yet another novel of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, but this one blends a modestly interesting love/jealousy triangle into the familiar action and atmosphere. Martin Lalor, captain in an Irish regiment, is assigned to accompany Sir Julian Wentworth of the East India Company on a six-month India tour--and, when the Indian soldiers' mutiny begins, Martin is dangerously stranded, along with such others as Wentworth's daughter Alicia and the widowed Rani of Jhansi (an uneasy business partner with the East India Company). There are chases, a siege in a small government bungalow, attacks by local mutineers, the wounding of Martin--and an attempted night-time escape which leaves all but Martin, Alicia, and the Rani dead. Rescued by the Rani's troops, Martin and Alicia are drawn together, though Alicia fails to seduce him; she then is dispatched to Saugor by the Rani, but is raped repeatedly along the way--which, along with another seven-month siege, causes her to become mentally unbalanced. And meanwhile, as Alicia has feared, Martin will become the Rani's lover (saving her from invasion by a neighbor). Finally, then, Martin must flee from the Rani, who has fallen out with the British, only to find himself facing a court-martial: Alicia (half-aware of her jealousy motivation) has brought charges of desertion against him. Unfortunately, this court-martial windup is overlong and somewhat disappointing, with much recycling of the plot. But the first half moves along briskly, thanks to vivid scenery, convincing details, and a fairly gripping serving of surefire Sepoy-peril appeal (see also Valerie Fitzgerald's Zemindar, p. 22).

Pub Date: July 12th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's