Flashman Papers - Review - 1

Flashman (The Flashman Papers, #1)Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where do I start? I was not sure how I missed this book for so long. There is a reference to it in William Darlymple's 'The return of the King' and I searched and got it (I mean all the books). Just finished the first one.

Harry Flashman is not your typical hero, he is not even your typical anti-hero. He is the embodiment of all that was bad in the British officer of the 19th century. In addition, he is also a 'toady', a very cowardly person. How he ends with everlasting glory in the battle field is a story told as humorously as possible with probably the most analyzed and accurate historical details.

Flashman is forthright in his dealings and puts things plainly as he sees it. He buys the commission, rapes his father's mistress, sells his first Indian slave girl because she has stopped to be 'fun', has an opinion on everything that goes around in the army and in British empire, manages to land in the thick of the things every time and in spite of himself, ends up as a hero of the said empire.

The humor in the novel is outrageous and absolute fun to read, if you don't mind the colorful language. Fraser has a knack of pun and wit and there is a description of Queen Victoria (described as 'plumpy' but okay below the neck!). There is nothing sanctified in the novel and there is no comeuppance for our hero (though there is a lapse on his wife side which he is ready to overlook as long as he gets the money).

Overall, a very good read and it is impossible to not hate and like Flashman.

 Flashman's Lady (The Flashman Papers, #6)Flashman's Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Second of the series (chronologically) though written sixth. Starts with an elaborate description of a Cricket match at Lord's and picks up from there. There are bookies threatening Flashman with ruin and he escapes to Singapore and escapes the killers only to see Elsbeth kidnapped by the pirates of Borneo. Forced into the rescue by the White Rajah of Sarawak, he ends up in Madagascar ruled by a ruthless queen Ranavalona.
There are some moments of absolute chicanery by H. and places he feels badly for Elsbeth, though calling her all kinds of name through the book. The hero of Afghanisthan finds the going difficult entangling with all kinds of villains from London bookies to Chinese black faces to the Borneo pirates.
Witnesses the many facets of tortures in Madagascar and become part of a coup unwittingly and bolts from the place at the first chance.
Very interesting read..

Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, #2)Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading the 4th book in the list (chronologically) I am yet to get tired of Flashman. Here he lands in the midst of the 1848 revolutions and becomes a pawn in the hands of the young Otto Bismarck, who has just embarked on his quest for an unified Germany. Flashman makes an enemy out of him while in England and Bismarck repays him by calling him to Prussia (through Lola Montez, who seems to be a remarkable lady in the mold of Flashman himself) and put him in a la 'Prisoner of Zenda' situation. Except that our hero is not as brave or gallant as Rudolf Rossandyll and hence wriggles out of all that is thrown at him.

There is no war here but only intrigues, betrayals and back stabbings. Flashman, by his uncanny resemblance to Price Carl Justaf of Denmark, replaces the price before his marriage doing the bidding of Bismarck. What follows with both the Germans and Danes trying to murder him makes for an interesting story. Here as in the other Flashman novels, Flashman is in the thick of the action and at one or two places he acquits himself neatly.

Fraser's writing is full of scathing social comment on the mores of the Victorian England and at one point, Flashman muses on the moral hypocrisy that pervaded the kingdom after the ascent of Queen Victoria which is quite hilarious but also thoughtful. For some reason, Fraser keeps picking on the queen and the consort Albert, probably for the same reason.

I have the movie as well and was waiting to finish the book before watching it. But I can see why this book was chosen to be made into a movie as it involves not too many locations or major wars and hence easy to be made.

Overall, all I can say after finishing the fourth title, is 'Gimme more'!!

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