Sunday, 28 April 2013

Book Review#16. - Flashman at the Charge


This will be the third time that I’ve seen fit to write the briefest of reviews about another of George MacDonald Fraser's ‘Flashman’ books and so far all have been magnificently entertaining.
  
Our cowardly and lecherous Flashy continues to find himself at some of the most dangerous hot spots of 19th century history, usually looking for a place to hide, trembling in fear as the heat of battle reaches fever pitch, praying that he is not discovered by the enemy or, more likely, the cuckolded husband of his latest conquest!

As with all MacDonald Fraser's tall tales, it is his ability to weave fact into fiction that makes them so appealing and ‘Flashman at the Charge’ is no exception.   Apparently Fraser’s ‘favourite’ novel, Flashman’s behaviour continues to appall and delight in equal measures and while it might seem unnecessary to keep apologising for some of the language used it is important, nonetheless, to say that some might find it uncomfortable.   

In this instalment of the recently discovered Flashman Papers our eponymous antihero is persuaded out of retirement to nursemaid one of Queen Victoria's cousins through the seemingly unavoidable Crimea campaign.  Little is to go Flashy's way as he is somehow an unwitting participant at the 'The Thin Red Line', the 'Charge of the Heavy Brigade' and ultimately, powered by fear and flatulence, ill-fated 'Charge of the Light Brigade'.  

If the morning's work wasn't bad enough he is immediately captured by the fearsome Russians and here begins another great adventure across the snow covered Steppe, ultimately leading to the North West frontier and an action that would see Flashman defending the Jewel in the Crown!  Undeniably my favourite yet and a hugely entertaining yarn, that brings out the best, and perhaps more entertainingly, the worst of Harry Paget Flashman Esq. to the fore - a flatulence favoured four crowns!







36 comments:

  1. Myself and Ray are discussing whether we've read any of these and to our shock we haven't, we need to rectify that, can you jump in anywhere or start at the beginning?

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    1. 'The first book - Flashman' is probably the best place to start as the background is laid out, but then I just grabbed whatever I fancied next. I understand that Fraser didn't write them in a chronological order either so pretty much go where you fancy.

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    2. I forsee the wallet being a tad lighter soon!

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  2. Good series of books. Flashman is such an enjoyable character. Anti Hero true, but somehow he gets the right result....

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    1. Absolutely and somehow we forgive for all his early indiscretions!

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  3. Nice review. I need to request these at the library and give them a spin.

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  4. I haven't read any of this series before, but it sounds entertaining. I think I will add the first one to my list once I get off my current Sci-Fi kick.
    Rod

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    1. Certainly worth a look, hugely entertaining.

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  5. I was distraught when the author died leaving the exploits of my favourite cad and bounder unfinished! This series was my gateway to Victorian military history and the epic stories of the Mutiny, Crimea and so on. I think my favourite was 'Flashman and the Mountain of Light'; the story of the Sikh War and the British acquistion of the Koh-i-Noor. Of course our Flashy was instrumental in both!

    Thanks for the review. Brings back fond memories!

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  6. I first read Flashman at The Charge in college serialized in Playboy. Much was edited down. The whole novel IS one of the best. I liked that Flashman says relatively good things about Fanny Duberly in the wake of her portrayal in the 1968 film Charge of the Light Brigade as a air headed gargoyle.

    I found Flashman and the Redskins a little tedious while Flash for Freedom and Flashman and the Great Game are two of my favorites.

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    1. Flash for Freedom and Flashman and the Great Game are certainly on the list.

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  7. This one is one of my favourite Flashman adventures - and that is saying a lot!

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  8. I feel so uneducated as I have never read a single Flashman book, though all my friends have. I think it is something that needs to be rectified.

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    1. Dive in my good man, I think you will enjoy them.

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  9. Reading your review brings back fond memories of this book. I have read two or three of his books many years ago and I think I will have to check Kindle out and start the series off again.
    Cheers,
    Pat.

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    1. I've managed to download a couple on the Kindle, definitely the way to go.

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  10. What is the first book in the series?

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  11. I too have not read any of these, but your write ups are so good, I feel like I should.

    Sorry for the late show here Michael. I'm a bit knackered from burning the midnight oil of late.

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    1. Irrelevant nonsense, but hugely entertaining; looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labour.

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  12. For those whose tastes run to the mid C20th century, George Macdonald Fraser wrote an equally amusing series of books known as the Dand MacNeill series about life in a Highland Regiment just after WW2. Starts with The General Danced at dawn - well worth checking out.

    Pip pip

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    1. I may yet get around to those, but not any time soon I fear.

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    2. I'm sure I can hide a copy somewhere on my next visit to Awdry Towers!

      Pip pip

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  13. My equal favourite with Mountain of Light I think. The first one, PanzerKaput, is simply called Flashman (1969). I remember my father buying this when it was first published, as he went to Rugby School.

    Thomas Arnold, who featured in both Tom Brown's Schooldays and Flashman had lived in the village where I was brought up in a house owned by the family of my sister's best friend.

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    1. I must get Mountain of Light, sounds too good to miss.

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  14. Intriguing, this Flashman. Best, Dean

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    1. He is certainly a man of many talents.

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  15. Must admit I need to check this series out. I have only read Fraser's 'The Pyrates', and that's a wonderfully ripping yarn too!

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    1. If rip roaring nonsense with a dash of history is your bag then you won't be disappointed Scott.

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  16. All great books (so far). I'm slowly reading through in Chronological order (taking my time as there are obviously no new ones going to come out). To new readers, most can be picked up as one off adventures, but Flash for Freedom!, Flashman and The Redskins (and maybe Angel of the Lord) should be read in that order as "...Redskins" picks up immediately from the "...Freedom!".

    Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you for the tip off regarding Freedom and Redskins, will have to get those together.

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  17. Michael, what a terrific book! I love the "Flashman Papers", and "Flashman at the Charge" is one of the best. I loved the bit when Flashy is reduced to tears when his young charge, (the Prince of Battenberg?), is killed in action. Tears of sadness....but not for the young prince!

    As for a favourite, I thought "Flash for Freedom" was just about perfect. Although none of them are anything less than great reads!

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