It’s 1799, and Richard Sharpe is just an illiterate young private in His Majesty’s service, part of an expedition sent to push the ruthless Tippoo of Mysore from his throne and drive his French allies out of India.
Posing as a deserter, Sharpe must penetrate into the Tippoo’s city and make contact with a Scottish spy being held prisoner there. Success will mean winning his sergeant stripes; failure, being turned over to the Tippoo’s brutal executioners — or his man-eating tigers. Picking his way through an exotic and alien world, one slip will mean disaster as Sharpe learns that he must fight his old comrades in order to save his own neck. Along the way, he keeps an eye out for Mysore’s beautiful prostitutes, any stray loot he can get his hands on and the chance to learn his ABC’s. But when the furious British assault on the city begins, Sharpe must fight with the fierceness and agility of a tiger himself to foil the Tippoo’s well-set trap — and to keep from being killed by his own side.