Whether he likes it or not, William Moore and his Soldiers trilogy, of which this is the first installment, must be compared with Duncan MacNeil, whose recent Wolf in the Fold (p. 1113) continues the saga of Captain James Ogilvie. The Ogilvie tales of Indian Army life in Queen Victoria's service are lively and well-salted with humor. Moore is less funny but more rigorous and dense with detail and color (though he does sometimes milk a mildly sardonic vein), and he reveals the life of the common footsoldier with far more relish than MacNeil. Moore follows the fortunes of a young officer Eldred Mallindine of Her Majesty's 14th Light Dragoons during the Second Sikh War (1848-1849), along with the various movements of the ""Grand Army of the Punjaub"" in Northern India in theft long marches against the madly proud Sikhs who are pouring themselves against the redcoats. Not that the British aren't repaying the Indians with rape and slaughter. Despite extreme privations and the defection of a top cavalry outfit, the British triumph and win--among other things--the Koh-i-noor Diamond, which ends up in the Crown Jewels. More soberly historical than imaginative, but it raises a Gunga Din in its battle scenes.