I think that it was Coleridge who coined the phrase, "a willful suspension of disbelief", which is, in my mind, what it takes to enjoy good fiction. Readers with imagination and the ability to "suspend" are going to love this book. It makes no pretentions of being other than what it it is, a really good adventure story, replete with sword fights; manly heroes who admit and enjoy their vices; tough, but still feminine heroines, who are excellent shots, and really BAD bad guys. Author Stirling acknowledges inspiration from such former great adventure writers as Burroughs, Sabatini and Talbot Mundy, whose "King of the Khyber Rifles" features as its main character, one Athelstan King. Lancers' featured character is Athelstane King, but Stirling's fast moving plot is very different from that of Mundy. Placed in alternative history following a global disaster caused by meteors hitting Earth in Victorian times, King and his friends battle to save the remains of the British Empire, now centered in India from the machinations of an evil Russian agent and his minions. If you are looking for serious, New York Times' approved fiction, save your money. But if you, like me, really enjoy a well conceived and crafted, fast paced adventure story, you will not be disappointed. Don't start it, though, unless you have time to read it from cover to cover. Once you are "into" Mr. Stirling's world, you won't want to come home again until the story is finished. This book only needs two things: first, a sequel, and, second, a good (as in GOOD) movie version.