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March 16 , 2008

On His Majesty's Service

(Matthew Hervey Book 11)


January 1829: George IV is on the throne, Wellington is England's prime-minister, and snow is falling thickly on the London streets as Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Hervey is summoned to the Horse Guards in the expectation of command of his regiment, the 6th Light Dragoons.

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Man Of War

1827: Britain and the Mediterranean Captain Sir Laughton Peto, recently engaged to Matthew Hervey's sister, is sailing his mighty line-of-battle ship towards Navarino Bay, and war with the Turks. Six months on, and Matthew Hervey is in London recovering from another bout of malaria and the wound from his battle with the Zulu. All is set…

But the benefits of long-term peace at home mean cuts in the army, and Hervey is told that the Sixth are to be reduced to a single squadron. With his long-term plans in disarray, he undertakes instead a six-month assignment as an observer with the Russian army. Soon Hervey, his friend Edward Fairbrother and his faithful groom, Private Johnson, are sailing north to St Petersburg, and from there to the Eastern Balkans, and the ferocious war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

Hervey is meant to be 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 since Waterloo, Hervey and Fairbrother find themselves in the thick of the action. For Matthew Hervey, the stakes have never been higher - or more personal.

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