- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (1 February 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006511252
- ISBN-13: 978-0006511250
- Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.2 x 12.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 222 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Flashman Paperback – 17 Mar 1999
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'Flashman is a wonderful creation, by a master storyteller. We'll forever delight in his evil antics' JEFFREY ARCHER
‘Politically incorrect, lascivious and fiendishly handsome, Flashman is the greatest ’ BORIS JOHNSON
‘Flashman is one of the great characters of modern fiction; a rogue, a lover, and always an irresistible read’ BERNARD CORNWELL
‘Flashman, Sherlock Holmes, Toad of Toad Hall, Bertie Wooster. Any writer would give his eye-teeth to have created a character as good as those. GMF was one of the greats’ CONN IGGULDEN
‘The perfect fictional creation’ TONY PARSONS
‘A first-rate historical novelist’ KINGSLEY AMIS
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Flashman has three great talents. He is a superb horseman, which comes in handy when he's running away. He has a great facility with languages, which allows him to pass as a native when he's running away. And, he is completely honest in his memoirs. He knows he's a coward. He embraces it.
Flashman never rises to any occasion. He is not a gentleman. He WILL throw you under the bus. And yet ... and yet I adore him. I have to apologize to myself for it, but I think he's hilarious. His candid take on the icons of the age are gut funny. You root for him. He's as bad as he'll ever be in this first book, but if you catch the Flashman bug you are in for major treats.
The last ‘unputdownable’ novel I read was Irvine Welsh’s ‘The Blade Artist’. Needless to say, 'Flashman' features an equally foul and notorious protagonist, whose depravity, shameless bullying and honourless scheming kept me reading on about his life in acute disbelief.
The fact that Flashman’s justification for his actions is often hilarious and at times insightful does not redeem him in any way. The fact that he is honest enough to openly and constantly admit that he is a cowardly, toadying rake does not redeem him either. After all, this is a character who is capable of carrying out incredible violence against women (and please don’t anyone utter the phrases ‘man of his time’ and / or ‘too much political correctness’).
Flashy's story serves as an unwavering, fascinating and repeated confirmation of the fact that the supposed heroes paraded by the establishment are often not the beacons of shining light which they’re declared to be. And most importantly of all: Flashy’s glaring flaws kept me reading on at a quick pace, for his enthralling magnetism was almost on par with Tolkien’s Gollum or Welsh’s Begbie, i.e. you just have to read on to find out what they’ll do next.
Despite his flaws, Flashy often provided a refreshingly honest account of the incredible events he lived through and his part in them. He was often quick to point out that the likes of Iqbal and Hudson were better men than him, and that he undeservedly profited from their actions. Indeed although I’m reluctant to admit it, Flashy’s self-awareness is the one quality about him that’s endearing (not redeeming). That said, I hardly ever felt sympathy for him whenever he found himself in a funk - I only read on in my impatience to discover how he would overcome his latest setback.
All of which makes Flashy a highly engaging character through which to discover the large-scale Afghan catastrophe which was caused by the likes of Macnaghten and Elfinstone. Their blunders could be considered hilarious had they not inflicted such unimaginable human misery upon their own side. So many great British soldiers were lost for nothing, and it seems incredible when you think how the Brits took over Afghanistan only to end up losing it so embarrassingly. Elfinstone must easily rank as the leading commander in military history for vacillating indecisiveness.
Incidentally I did some research on the Afghan puppet king, Shah Shujah, who the Brits installed in Kabul. Although this novel makes no bones about the savagery of the Afghan tribes, the savagery of the puppet King is not referred to. However his brutality was just jaw-dropping: a King power-hungry enough to have his own brother blinded, and who frequently insisted on mutilating (nose, ears, tongues, genitalia) his servants and courtiers for the slightest perceived misdeeds after he fled into exile.
Finally I should also add that Macdonald Fraser’s writing makes for easy reading, so that I never felt bogged down by the first person narrative. It’s amazing to think this novel was written in the sixties, given the author's brisk style which still manages to be literary and (by all accounts) historically accurate.
All in all a highly entertaining yarn but I will try to find something else to read before returning to Flashy’s world.
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