Bangalore 1878. Colour Sergeant John Ramsey is a seasoned veteran; shrewd, tough and professional, his stolid honesty and strict sense of honour tempered by a warm and protective devotion to the men of his beloved regiment. Recently transferred Captain Thomas Ross has little time for such foibles. Harrowing childhood events during the Indian Mutiny have left him with an indelible bitterness and vengeful hatred for all things ‘native’. Ross has grown into a coldblooded, cruel and sadistic man with a ruthless determination to win acclaim whatever the cost. When the regiment are sent to Afghanistan it becomes clear that Ross is willing to risk them all on a quest for laurels, his vicious bloodlust leading to atrocity and murder. Ramsey must try and keep his company safe from both the depredations of a pitiless enemy and the increasingly unbalanced Ross. Matters are further complicated by the unexpected arrival of his nephew, and then the dreadful news that his adored sister Beth is now widowed and living in the hopeless squalor of notorious Blue Anchor Lane. Ramsey realises that events here will also have serious consequences there. He will soon face a stark choice: he can simply persevere and continue following orders or abandon everything he believes in, breaking with a lifetime of tradition and strict obedience to rescue Beth and save his men.