Friday, 18 March 2011

Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

I borrowed this from the library, not at all sure whether it was my sort of thing. But I found that I really enjoyed it.

The main character, Harry Flashman, is the school bully from Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes. Fraser has taken the character from his expulsion from school and gives him an army career.

Flashman is a truly horrible human being. He is bullying, cowardly, his attitude to women is reprehensible (not to say criminal), he is completely self centred. He lies and cheats to get his own way. There is no character development, he is as odious at the end of the book as he is at the beginning.

The fun of the book is the adventure. Flashman gets into all kinds of scrapes and while we might want him to get his comeuppance, of course he never does. It is set in the 1830/40s where, after a series of misadventures he is posted to Afghanistan. This is not a good posting, the British are barely hanging on there, with woeful leadership and low morale. Flashman is in the thick of it, but by cunning and undeserved good fortune manages to emerge unscathed.

I feel much better informed about this period in history than I was before reading the book. I know from reading reviews by people who know about these things that the historical research for the Flashman series is excellent.

I look forward to making my way through the series.


  1. I'd always assumed that these books wouldn't be for me as well, but you're the second person in the last couple of weeks whose made me question my assumptions. I don't think I dare look too closely at them right now; I have far too much underway without jumping in to a new series. I'll think about them again, perhaps over the summer. Are there parallels to be drawn between the fighting in Afghanistan then and now and of so is this deliberate or were the first books written before the latest war?

  2. I think this one was first published in 1969. It made me realise that Afghanistan has been war-torn for a very long time. I know what you mean about starting a series. Over the past few years I've been dipping my toe into the waters of sci-fi and series seem to be very prevalent in that genre.
    My heart sinks when I read a good review and realise that the book in question is 5th in a a series. Whatever happened to trilogies - I could cope with them!