Novel on the Indian mutiny, a classic
Meaningless and merciless mutiny
By on Aug 21, 2001
This book reminds me the masterpiece of Pushkin "The Captain's Daughter". Pushkin wrote about the greatest Russian peasant's mutiny, so calles "Pougatchevschina". Masters wrote about the Indian mutiny. The problem is just the same - the price of justice. You can be absolutely politically correct and think that Pougatchev and Rani Sumitra were the greatest patriots possible. You may be absolutely sure that Russian serfdom & British raj are abominable. But the fact is that the victory of Russian peasants or Indian sepoys will be the beginning of chaos. Pushkin wrote about "meaningless and merciless Russian riot". Masters understands what does it mean. As an Anglo-Indian he lived through the downfall of his world and he write about his own hard earned experience . Rodney Savage, the hero, lived through the destruction and death of everything he thought true: his family, his regiment, his faith and his spiritual innocence. This book is about the acquisition of humanity by the man who has to start all over again. "Nightrunners" is a bit old-fashioned. Of cource, Kipling's influence is very strong, but I recommend it to everybody who want to read about the real mutiny & not about the much praised "fight for freedom and independence". P.S. English is not my native language, so excuse me for my mistakes.
A great read, but biased and inaccurate
By Richard Wells on Nov 02, 2000
"Nightrunners of Bengal" is an exciting and masterfully written gathering of lies and half-truths written from an obvious pro-colonialist viewpoint. It is also a classic of the genre. A telling example of the author's bias is that Indians refer to the, so called, Mutiny of 1857 (the central event of the novel) as the First War of Independence. John Masters considers it to be no more than a Sepoy Rebellion made incoherent by religious fanaticism. His take on the Rani of Jhanci who was a prime mover in the war is of a hysterical nymphomaniac rather than a woman with deep self interest in the preservation of her successor and a patriot. This is not to say that every historical instance is corrupted, but enough to sway opinion away from the Indians. Inaccuracy and bias beside, the author does provide an interesting study of the nature of loyalty. Is it to God, king, country, or contract? His final take focuses on the Bengal Lancers refusal to join the war on the side of their countrymen because they had willingly agreed to serve the Crown (or its surrogate, the East India Company). The Lancers are his heroes precisely because they honor the contract. A man does what he promises to do. My Indian friends find this to be a bit disingenous. I admit, though, prior to learning a few facts I was quite taken by this novel. It is a page turner and a thriller. The sad fact is the truth would have been every bit as compelling as the author's fabrications.
By Lapiz on Apr 06, 2014
fictictious account of the 1857 sepoy muntiny told in kipling manner. mix of romance, action, adventure, and history. similar to the four feathers.
India under the Raj and the rise of independence
By Frances Burke on Oct 15, 2013
An exciting story of events leading up to the Indian Mutiny from the viewpoint of a British Army officer, this is a moving explanation of the feelings on both sides of the conflict. The writer shows empathy and depth of knowledge while creating a fascinating cast of characters. I could smell the dust and the blood, feel the heat and enter into the mystery of India in the final days of the Raj.
Nightrunners of Bengal
By Hmvincent on Oct 04, 2012
This is an exciting, action-packed novel. Mr. Masters's description of the Sepoy Mutiny as seen though the eyes of a Royal East India Company army officer is detailed and fascinating. The heat in the spring of that year, 1857, will make you feel sweaty and suffocated. The British are blind to the danger. The main character is largely blind but also loves India and its inhabitants. What a tragedy for all concerned. I recommend this book to junior high students especially, for its characters' action, compassion, and discipline.
Read Flashman Instead
By Frankie on Feb 07, 2011
Warning: The Mutiny only takes place after you've read half the book. Background is fine, but endless yammer over the (not soon enough to be widowed) hero's weird relationship with his new bluestocking girlfriend (he can't quite seem to make up his mind)is numbing... I've just tonight finished Masters' "The Deceivers". I had hoped there would be less of the bizarre female-worship, but it's back again in full together with whole chapters of delirium as usual. Was Masters an opium "addict" along with liberal supplies of booze? Certainly the most convincing passages - and they are endless - of the two heroes' hallucinations ring true, if boringly. Anyway, if you take women as they come and enjoy rip-roaring historical fiction, this isn't the book for you. For the Mutiny, highly recommended is the great George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman in the Great Game".
India in its glory, in 1857.
By Newcastle Bookworm on Jan 04, 2011
The scenery, sights, sounds, smells and societies of India in 1857. Masters was born in Calcutta, the fifth generation of his family to serve in India. His knowledge of and love for India is mind-blowing, and his adventures are hair-raising.
a book you cannot put down until you are finnished
By Dianne Hafely on Apr 27, 2013
the book was exciting.. it was factual asto the uprising and the characters were real. they were graphically painted and you felt they were alive.
A Great Story
By Toolmannh on Mar 14, 2006
I fall somewhere in between the other two reviewers of this book. I believe this is one of John Master's best books (excepting his autobiographical material) and deserves five stars for the quality of the writing and storytelling. There is no denying the very different perspectives on the events recounted in this book, but I believe that one of the reviewers has forgotten that the story is fictional, told from the viewpoint of the English. There is certainly an equally compelling story to be told from the Indian viewpoint, and I would happily read that story too, but I believe that Master's viewpoint of the events is more nuanced than the other reviewer gives him credit for. Mutiny, rebellion, war for independence, call it what you will, it's a compelling read and I heartily recommend the book, or Patrick Tull's excellent reading of the book on audio.