1817 and 1818 have not been good years for Matthew Hervey. His beloved wife Henrietta is dead and he is no longer in the Sixth regiment. Now he is kicking his heels in a corrupt and unruly England far removed from its once glorious past. 1819 sees Hervey in Rome with his sister Elizabeth where a chance meeting with man of letters Percy Bysshe Shelley leads him to rethink his future. Realizing just how much he misses the excitement of military action and the camaraderie of his regiment, Hervey hurriedly purchases a new commission and is refitted for the uniform of the 6th Light Dragoons. Hervey’s most immediate task is to raise a new troop and to organize transport, for his men and horses are to set sail for India with immediate effect.
What Hervey and his greenhorn soldiers cannot know is that in India they will face one of their toughest trials. A large number of Burmese warboats are being assembled near the headwaters of the river leading to Chittagong, and the only way to thwart their advance involves an arduous and hazardous march through jungle territory. What begins as a relatively simple operation becomes a journey into the heart of darkness, as Hervey and his troop find themselves in the midst of hot and bloody action once more.