For its British population, the India that swelters in the late spring of 1857 is a place of amateur theatricals, horseracing and flirtations under the aegis of the omnipotent East India company.
But a brutal awakening lies in store for the complacent British: one May night, after thirty years of abuse, the East India Company's native soldiers rise up against their British officers.
Thus begins the most savage episode in our imperial history.
Caught up in the violence is pretty Sophie Hardcastle, a young wife and mother newly arrived from England.
As she searches for her infant son, missing in the chaos, Sophie finds herself bearing witness to atrocities on both sides. Moving, sombre and thrilling, Rathbone's tale is told on a grand scale, ranging from the Cannings in Government House to the heroism of the humblest soldiers and peasants.
It is as exhilarating as any Victorian adventure story, and yet, with its unflinching examination of religious fanaticism and the horrors of war, THE MUTINY also carries a powerful message for the modern world.