Mastering the Mutiny
When John Masters’ Nightrunners of Bengal was first published in 1951, John Raymond in the Sunday Times described it as ‘the best historical novel about the Indian Mutiny that I have ever read’. In my view he’s right, although the power of the writing makes the subject matter almost irrelevant. As it is, the author has chosen one of the most chaotic and brutal episodes in the history of the British Empire in which to set his story – and he more than does it justice. It’s one of those novels that, once picked up, is almost impossible to put down. I’ve reread it many times and it still leaves me in a cold sweat of fear. It’s an old-fashioned book, written in an old-fashioned way, and it expresses old-fashioned values.