4 MARCH 1905, Page 23

With Sword and Pen: a Story of India in the

Fifties. By H. C. Irwin. (T. Fisher Unwin. 6s.) — The Mutiny has been the back- ground for many tales, but no novelist can stale its inexhaustible interest. Mr. Irwin's new book is by no means the least successful of the romances over which that great event casts its shadow. The annexation of Oudh and the siege and relief of Lucknow, under assumed names, are the historical episodes selected for treatment. And the author has contrived to weave them very skilfully into the story of Malcolm Mainwaring, young officer of a native regiment, and Evelyn Home, the daughter of the Commissioner of the annexed province. The life of the old native Court is cleverly portrayed, and before the first mutterings of the storm are heard the hero has established a strong claim to our regard by some spirited adventures and much graceful love-making. Then comes the long journey with the women and children to safety, and the return with the avenging army to the relief of the city where his betrothed is a prisoner. Mr. Irwin tells his story with old-fashioned deliberation, and now and then his dialogue is apt to hang ; but it is a real story, well constructed out of attractive material, and the dramatic interest is maintained to the end. It is a novel of action rather than character, and there is no attempt at pretentious psychology ; but, if our modern clichés of character-drawing are absent, there is a directness in the author's method which gives reality to the drama. Many of the native characters are excellently drawn, and we would not forget the red-tape Colonel, who even in the stress of the Mutiny was anxious about official etiquette and a fidelity to War Office directions.