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Royal Flash (Flashman Papers #2)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,374 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews
Coward, scoundrel, lover and cheat, but there is no better man to go into the jungle with. Join Flashman in his adventures as he survives fearful ordeals and outlandish perils across the four corners of the world.

A mission calls for a master of disguise, deceit and treachery: there’s only one man for the job. When a legendary femme fatale delivers him into the clutches of
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published 1970)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
168th out of 1,308 books — 3,371 voters
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Best Victorian Historical Fiction Set In Britain
51st out of 196 books — 521 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Last week I finally got around to reading Les Trois Mousquetaires, and this week, more or less by accident, I read Royal Flash. They're both excellent historical thrillers, and it's interesting to compare them. MacDonald Fraser is following very much in Dumas's footsteps. He takes real historical events from the mid-19th century, and recasts them so that history is no longer an inevitable unfolding of grand themes, but rather a haphazard collection of accidents, more often than not turning on wh ...more
Aug 18, 2016 Tristan rated it liked it
Sir Harry Flashman, highly decorated officer of the 11th Light Dragoons, is a cad, a chauvinist, a misogynist, an adulterer, and most of all a coward. His positive qualities consist of having a natural gift for foreign tongues (in this case this can be interpreted as a double entendre ), being a good rider, and having a strong sword arm. What lacks is character. His 'achievements' in his military enterprises are mostly due to either blind luck, running away from danger, a talent for snatching gl ...more
Evan Leach
I didn’t like Royal Flash quite as much as the first book in the series, probably because this is the lone Flashman novel set in a fictional location (instead of throwing Flashy directly into real-world events). The Flashman books work (at least for me) on three different levels: there’s the adventure, the humor, and the historical fiction. The third element is a bit lacking due to the make-believe setting Flashman spends much of the book running around in. That doesn’t mean that there are no hi ...more
J.G. Keely
For you poor folks who have never heard of the Flashman series, they tell the story of your classic Victorian adventurer, a man who travels through many lands, making his way by his wits and his skill and always being drawn into the dangers of politics, secret plots, and local politics. But the hero of these stories comes with a twist: he's an awful cad who lies, cheats, and steals his way through the world, a coward who only survives by the skin of his teeth, but who pretends the role of the br ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Nate marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
How the White Christ is this book so boring? It's Flashman! I'll eventually return to this one because I wanna read the future volumes and I'm a completist, but fuck...
May 09, 2015 Sally rated it really liked it
It took me a long while to get into Royal Flash. It's written from the perspective of Harry Flashman, a cowardly, selfish, mysoginistic bully who is perfectly happy to take credit for anything he hasn't earned and driven largely by his lust. A classic anti-hero and not an easy character for me to relate to at all.

However it was highly recommended and I enjoyed the way the tawdry historical references (of the sort you never find in school history books) were woven so intrinsically into the story,
Julie Johnson
Apr 29, 2011 Julie Johnson rated it really liked it
I have read a number of Flashman books before this one and usually in a series you get ones that are stellar and ones that just don't have that same spark.

I felt so-so about this one. It just didn't seem to have the same sparkle.

My forever favourite is still Flashman at the Charge. It was also the first one I ever read, and it was a revelation.

I adore the Flashman character even when I dislike him.

He is a character I at once love/hate. He's such a product of his age (Victorian), and has all the
Ian Mapp
Oct 19, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, humour
Of course, you know what you are going to get in series books like this. An exact replica but set in a different location.

Flashman is back from the afgan war a hero. In an escape from a london whorehouse, he take refuge in a police chase by hiding in the carriage of Lola Montez - who is entertaining Otto Von Bismark. You can guess what happens here.

Otto and Flashy meet up again, where flashy gets his revenge on him by organising an exhibition bout against a top puglist and his affair with Lola b
Simon Mcleish
May 05, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 1999.

The second of Fraser's Flashman series, Royal Flash is a spoof on Anthony Hope's classic The Prisoner of Zenda. It keeps fairly faithfully to the plot of Hope's novel, with the central part falling to the cowardly Flashman rather than the gallant Rudolf Rassendyll.

The major change made by Fraser is the motivation for the escapade. Flashman has no liking for adventure, and it requires both blackmail and force to get him to imitate Prince Carl Gust
Jul 18, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flashman's character is becoming more cohesive in this book. I felt that in the 1st book Fraser didn't quite know how to handle his creation, and Flashman fluctuated between being a cad and an outright unlikeable bastard. This time he's a coward, sure, and a bully if he sees the chance, and of course if you put a skirt on a hay bale then he'd probably sleep with it, but he still never dips below likeable scoundrel.

A few slow points where Fraser dips a bit too far into the history aspect, but mu
Feb 13, 2016 Derek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can see why people would like this. Harry Flashman is a reptile whose appetites--women, money, foolishly petty vengeance--dig him into trouble and his cowardice and knavery dig him back out. Narrating the story from many, many years later, he has absolutely no illusions about his courage or honor or sense of duty--actually, a buried sense of shame--and this distance and perspective is the only thing that made me keep reading after about the twentieth page. Well, no, not the only thing. The wor ...more
Rob Thompson
May 11, 2016 Rob Thompson rated it really liked it
“I was sufficiently recovered from my nervous condition – or else the booze was beginning to work ...

Royal Flash is the second of the Flashman novels. Written in 1970 by George MacDonald Fraser, Fraser based the book on the plot of The Prisoner of Zenda. Set during the Revolutions of 1848 the story is amusing enough. It is set in the fictional Duchy of Strackenz. This makes it the only Flashman novel to be set in a fictitious location. The story sees Flashman (view spoiler)
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Celebrated cavalry officer, Harry Flashman is caught with his trousers down in a London club. Read by Iain Cuthbertson.

Fuzzy Gerdes
Nov 09, 2009 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it really liked it
I had harsh words for the character of Flashman after I read the first book in George MacDonald Fraser's series. But there was something that compelled me to seek out more of his (mis)adventures and so I picked up Royal Flash from the library. Maybe it's that the novel is a pastiche of one of my childhood favorites, The Prisoner of Zenda, or that Flashman is less a victim of his own worst instincts than of the machinations of others. Regardless, I found him less loathsome and more the likable (t ...more
May 17, 2009 Smokinjbc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booksthatrock
Harry Flashman is still rotten to the core but takes you on quite a trip as he carouses his way through England and Europe. Several laugh out loud moments as he impersonates a Danish prince on his wedding night (the prince's, not Flashman's) and tries to escape the clutches of Bismarck. Especially entertaining was his description of fox hunting and his "education" in how to pull off an impressive scam.

My favorite lines are:

(speaking of Bismarck)

"I also learned that he had a wife in the capital
Robin Carter
May 07, 2012 Robin Carter rated it it was amazing
For a long time people had expounded the brilliance of the flashman and the books are damn fine to read, i don't think it needs me or anyone else to write a review saying about the high quality of the writing and characters... but for me the real brilliance comes to the fore when the book is read by the likes of Rupert Penry-Jones.
I love to listen to the Flashman books on audio format when im on holiday, the only issue i have is to make sure i dont start talking like a Victorian cad whilst going
Jan 25, 2013 Jonfaith rated it liked it
We had moved here and this proved topical. It was a humid summer and the house was gradually coming together. I'd come home from work and then attend to some task, usually making quite the mess. I lack facility in such matters. I read a number of story collections that summer, I also read a Flashman. The novel's layered plot I found engaging, though not the execution thereof. Who can complain about a protagonist whose favorite verb is roger? Sure, the politics are incredibly reactionary and the ...more
Jun 06, 2016 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: history, fiction
You know, I've read maybe 6-8 of these books (because I love them) and I was looking at the list of Flashman titles, and was like "hey! here's one I haven't read yet!" -- and unfortunately I think this is the weakest of all Fraser's books I've read. Not to say that it's bad--I loved the inclusion of Lola Montez, but she is actually not in it very long. It's the origin story to Prisoner of Zenda and it is a Ruritanian farce, but it didn't keep me in stitches to the same degree the others have.

Christian Schwoerke
Mar 14, 2014 Christian Schwoerke rated it really liked it
This is the second in the series of Flashman novels I’ve read, and I’m in the middle of the third (Flash for Freedom). These stories are adolescent in terms of the action involved—like boys’ adventure novels—but are clever, witty, irreverent, and historically informative. It’s the tidbits of historical information about major and minor figures, etymologies, customs, etc. that enliven the already engaging narrative. And it’s the narrative that makes the story, since it’s a first-person account of ...more
Royal Flash is a interpretation, along despicable Flashy lines, of Anthony Hawkins' The Prisoner of Zenda. Fraser, through Flashman, even goes so far as to argue that Hawkins got his idea for Zenda from Flashman's adventure in Germany with Bismarck and his toadies.

The Second volume in the series still has the same fresh and cowardly hero of Flashman up to no good as usual, but the action is not quite as ready as in the first book--Flashman--and the essential plot was the same as the
Rob Kitchin
Aug 30, 2015 Rob Kitchin rated it liked it
The second set of Flashman papers picks up where the first ended, but after an initial setup jumps forward a few years. As with the first tale, Macdonald Fraser inserts his intrepid, womanising, cowardly anti-hero into real world events in which he interacts with principal historical figures: in this case, the courtesan, Lola Montez, and the statesman, Otto Von Bismarck. The twist in this book, however, is to also parody the novel, The Prisoner of Zelda, which Flashman then claims is based upon ...more
May 13, 2015 Larry rated it liked it
First of all, I love the dedication ... “To Ronald Coleman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power …”.. It's the main character all rolled up into one! So apropos of Harry Flashman.

George MacDonald Fraser plays it straight. He picks up Flashman's "papers" (memoirs) in the 1840's and corrects the historical appraisal of celebrities’ character and actions. It’s just a fun read. Harry – the cad – is so blasé about the rewards of cowardice and lying! The language – Elizabethan era slang – a
Muthuprakash Ravindran
Jul 22, 2014 Muthuprakash Ravindran rated it really liked it
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. Ex ...more
Richard Barnes
May 22, 2016 Richard Barnes rated it liked it
As always, rollicking good fun - but perhaps not as colourful as Flash's escapades in more far flung places.

It could be because I'm English so fairly ignorant of Bismark and his works. While this book helps fill in some of my gaps (and prompted me to grab a potted history of Bismark from Wikipedia) this prime mover and shaker of Europe remains a little obscure for me.

Lola Montez, who is certainly a more obscure figure from history, however leaps off the page - the perfect foil to the arrogant eg
Oct 06, 2008 Frank rated it it was amazing
Something about reading about Flashy running around Eastern Europe, drinking and carrying on, can be a little dangerous; particularly when you are running around Eastern Europe. This is another wonderful Flashman book, our hero may be without his whiskers but that does not stop him from romping with chambermaids, acting the cad and behaving very badly in the face of danger.
Henrik Schunk
Jan 30, 2013 Henrik Schunk rated it really liked it
The second Flashman novel is slightly better than the first, at least in my humble opinion. Focusing in more personal affairs and some skullduggery instead of losing itself in macropolitical dabbling, Royal Flash is more of a pulp-spy novel and good fun.
Okay. Realize that the whole of Flashman and the Mountain of Light takes place between pages 52 and 53 of Royal Flash. George MacDonald Fraser is brilliant at peppering references to past and future Flashman-centric events throughout the series, but there is a certain disconnect here. Tossing the Koh-I-Noor to Hardinge his last official act before leaving India, Flashman was in reasonably good health and so anxious to return to the bosom of England__and Elspeth__that he turned down a munificent ...more
John S
May 21, 2012 John S rated it it was amazing
Read any of the Flashman series if you enjoy a great read of fiction based upon fact. GM Fraser is the best, he often has you holding your gut you're laughing so hard.

Certainly the best series I've ever had th epleasure of reading.

Aug 04, 2016 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
This is not as compelling as the first Flashman novel, but it is still a fun rollicking historical adventure/satire. In this second installment of the series, Flashman goes to Germany and is forced to impersonate a Danish prince and marry the duchess of a duchy contested between Bismark's Prussia (Bismark organizes the entire adventure) and Denmark. Through a series of misadventures, Flashman passes through danger, lust, greed, fear, and some less than gentlemanly actions.

One thing I do find par
Aug 08, 2016 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A fun romp through sword fights, royal marriage, infidelity, theft, horse racing, boxing, a splash of historic characters (Bismarck, Marx {very briefly}, the Mad King Ludwig, Lola) across a mid 19th Century European landscape, and you have a basic understanding of the Flashman series. Fraser is best known as a WWI historian, but that historians' eye for detail and narrative, makes Flashman a coward mistaken for a hero, a ladies man in a failed marriage, with just the right mix of skills as neede ...more
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He is best known for his Flashman series of historical novels, purportedly written by Harry Flashman, a fictional coward and bully originally created by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days. The novels are presented as "packets" of memoirs written by the nonagenarian Flashman, who looks back on his days as a hero of the British Army during the 19th century. The series begins with Flashman, and ...more
More about George MacDonald Fraser...

Other Books in the Series

Flashman Papers (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Flashman (The Flashman Papers, #1)
  • Flash for Freedom (The Flashman Papers #3)
  • Flashman at the Charge (Flashman Papers, #4)
  • Flashman in the Great Game (The Flashman Papers, #5)
  • Flashman's Lady (The Flashman Papers, #6)
  • Flashman and the Redskins (The Flashman Papers, #7)
  • Flashman and the Dragon (The Flashman Papers, #8)
  • Flashman and the Mountain of Light (The Flashman Papers, #9)
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord (The Flashman Papers, #10)
  • Flashman and the Tiger (The Flashman Papers, #11)

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“I was sufficiently recovered from my nervous condition – or else the booze was beginning to work – to be able to discuss with Rudi the merits of checked or striped trousers, which had been the great debate among the London nobs that year. I was a check-er myself, having the height and leg for it, but Rudi thought they looked bumpkinish, which only shows what damned queer taste they had in Austria in those days. Of course, if you’ll put up with Metternich you’ll put up with anything.” 5 likes
“I mention the fact here because it shows how great events are decided by trifles. Scholars, of course, won’t have it so. Policies, they say, and the subtly laid schemes of statesmen, are what influence the destinies of nations; the opinions of intellectuals, the writings of philosophers, settle the fate of mankind. Well, they may do their share, but in my experience the course of history is as often settled by someone’s having a belly-ache, or not sleeping well, or a sailor getting drunk, or some aristocratic harlot waggling her backside.” 1 likes
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