(Matthew Hervey 11)
1829: In the Eastern Balkans, Matthew Hervey of the 6th Light Dragoons is at war with the Turks.
The year is 1829 and Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Hervey has been promised command of his regiment, the 6th Light Dragoons.
Before he can take up his post, however, there is a six-month assignment as an observer with the Russian army, an undertaking at the personal request of the commander-in-chief which Hervey feels obliged to fulfil. Soon Hervey, his friend Edward Fairbrother and his faithful groom, Private Johnson, are sailing north to St Petersburg, and from there on to the Eastern Balkans which are seething with unrest as Russian faces Turk.
Hervey imagines he is to spend six months as an impartial spectator in the campaign, but soon the circumstances - and his own nature - propel him into a more active role. In the climactic Battle of Kulewtscha, in which more troops were engaged than in any battle in Europe since Waterloo, Hervey and Fairbrother find themselves in the teeth of the action.
For Hervey in particular the stakes have never been higher or more personal …
“As a history of a little-known conflict, this is a fascinating lively romp.”
THE TIMES, Saturday Review
“What is left to be said about Allan Mallinson? Only this perhaps: he has done for the British army what C.S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian did for the royal navy, and his novels are every bit as addictive as theirs - indeed more addictive for those of us who prefer land to sea war, and find the details of military life more compelling than those of life on board ship. On His Majesty's Service is the tenth of his Matthew Hervey novels. The Napoleonic wars are long over: it is 1828. Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform are in the air. There are riots in the country and talk of reducing the military establishment.Hervey, however, is sent, with his friend Captain Fairbrother, the illegitimate son of a Jamaican slave-owner, as an observer of the Russian army engaged in war against the Ottoman empire. It is unlikely that he will be long content merely to observe; he will also meet the future Prussian Field-Marshal von Moltke, architect of the wars which led to the recreation of imperial Germany, and at that time advising the Turks. Splendid, irresistible stuff, and not for addicts only.”
Allan Massie, Spectator