I loved this, possibly (but just possibly) more than Troubles
. I don't know! They are different and yet similar, which is a completely unhelpful thing to say, especially if you haven't read Troubles
. But they both have eccentric British people in increasingly desperate and perilous situations under siege as the native populations fight over their independence. And even though in our hearts, we know imperialism is maybe not the best thing, the poor crazy British characters are so likable, that you want them to beat the evil Irish/Indians and triumph in their glorious defense (defence?) of the realm.
Even though Troubles
was written first, it takes place after The Siege of Krishnapur
, which is set during the British Raj. It follows the British community of Krishnapur (obviously) as it comes under attack by the mutinying native Indian army. And even though the characters are horribly condescending and paternalistic and mostly racist, one can't help feel sorry as their situation devolves. They try their best to be all Victorian and optimistic about their situation and, at first, it's as if the poor fools have no idea just how bad it's going to get: the women rigorously maintain a strict social order in the billiards room where they lodge and the men jocularly debate deciding how to fire at which Indians. However, the situation becomes quite grim. The attacks continue, food becomes short, many are dead from fighting or cholera, the arsenal dwindles and eventually all the beautiful furniture and artwork that the characters argued over earlier as proof of Man's progress or God's handiwork and Civilization! is used as ammunition. There are some pretty horrible things going on but it's never too much and it's all very funny and very British, in that, "Yes, everything is going to hell but, by God, we are Gentleman!" sort of way.
There are other things like imperialism in general and the Victorians obsession with rationality, science, and progress. But really, I just loved it because it was fun! Beyond all the philosophy, there is hilarity, suspense, adventure, and even a little romance. It's as if Nancy Mitford were a man and decided to write adventure novels.