Menace emanated from them as fiercely as the heat from the sun. Night and day, the drums never stopped, a constant reminder of the mortal threat that hung over them. She could hear them booming across the waters, like the heartbeat of the monster.
An unimaginable enemy will bring them together . . .
In the burning heat of the Sudanese sun, the city of Khartoum is under siege from the fearsome forces of the Mahdi, the charismatic leader of those who tire of the brutal Egyptian government. In Khartoum, along with thousands of innocent citizens, are trapped the fanatical General Charles Gordon, intrepid soldier Penrod Ballantyne of the 10th Hussars, English trader Ryder Courtney and the British consul and his three beautiful daughters.
As rescue becomes increasingly unlikely, this group of Queen Victoria's loyal citizens must unite to prepare themselves against a nightmarish enemy, and for the savage battle to survive that must surely follow . . .
The Courtneys meet the Ballantynes in a sweeping adventure
Set in colonial Egypt at the end of Victoria's reign, this sweeping romantic epic reprises Smith regulars scions of the Courteneys and Ballantynes. (The two fictional British families have provided character fodder for least half of Smith's 30 novels.) Bloodthirsty legions of Arab dervish troops under the command of the Mahdi, or ruling successor to the Prophet Muhammad, have surrounded (but not taken) Khartoum, trapping comely 17-year-old Rebecca Benbrook; her consul general father, David; and her younger twin sisters, Saffron and Amber. The appearance of a cargo boat owned by the dashing, entrepreneurial Ryder Courteney, as well as the subsequent appearance of Capt. Penrod Ballantyne of Her Majesty's 10th Hussars, give hope. Na ve Rebecca falls in love with Ballantyne, who deflowers her before racing off to warn the rescue force commander that the commander is outnumbered 25 to one. The dervish, led by the fearsome Emir Osman Atalan, overrun Khartoum, and Rebecca's father is brutally butchered; the saga continues with Penrod heroically leading troops against Osman. Steamy romance alternates with gore, and it's all done by-the-numbers in a good way like a junky, absorbing miniseries. Fans will not be disappointed.