It is early in the 19th century. The trade links between Bombay, Oman, Iraq and on to China are seen as strategically important, a trade which Britain cannot afford to lose. Sir Evan Nepean, the Governor of Bombay, devises a strategy to fight piracy in the seas around Arabia, and to curtail, if not wipe out the local Wahhabist opposition. He devises a scheme to create an alliance with Erhama bin Jaber, a local pirate, the Sultan of Oman, the Khedive of Egypt and Britain. Unfortunately, the strategy soon starts to fall apart as Erhama refuses to betray his Wahhabi allies. Major George Sadleir is sent to the heart of the Arabian Desert with a priceless gift for the Egyptian leader to act as an incentive to join the fight.
This is a fascinating story full of twists and turns. There are a wide range of local disputes, rivalries and intrigues, made worse by British interference in the region. The British are regarded as untrustworthy, devious, and downright treacherous by all who come into contact with them, including their allies – and with good cause. British interests are paramount, while the locals are considered uncivilised and only tolerated as long as they further British strategic requirements. All characters are well drawn, while the local politics and rivalries are effectively portrayed. The action scenes are brief, rather than detailed, but paint a vivid picture of battle without being graphic. This is a well written book, which brings alive history from a different viewpoint. More please. Recommended.