Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2018
In this book, Mr. Kipling's encyclopedic knowledge of British India in the 19th Century shows through. As a dose of local color the stories are great! But, I think Kipling's skills are more suited to poetry than prose, and they lack the lyrical quality so common in his poems. Still, they are well worth reading. The title story is very much like a Greek tragedy in its structure, with the heroes barely nosed out of the conquest of Kafiristan (the semi-mythical land beyond Afghanistan) where the locals think the two British soldiers are gods. The story isn't much like the movie. Two of the other stories are ghost stories where native superstition becomes shockingly real to British characters -- these are really neat if you don't mind a dose of the supernatural. Then there's a cute coming of age story about the colonel's son leading a daring rescue (Wee Willie Winkie). There's also a very poignant love story that ends tragically when a British civil servant marries a Moslem woman in secret. The attitudes and customs are represented as accurately as possible (more accurately than could be done by a present day author because that culture of the Raj no longer exists), and the stories are well crafted.
Why didn't I give them more stars? I just didn't get the feeling of greatness! But you be the judge. These stories are certainly worth your time.