This, Sharpe's Gold, was the first of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels (1981) and the reader will see a number of the literary devices and characterizThis, Sharpe's Gold, was the first of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels (1981) and the reader will see a number of the literary devices and characterizations at an early stage of development.
First of all, this is an action/adventure novel set during the Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. The author was at pains to get the details right while balancing this with a modern, moralizing sensibility. There is a darkness in the character of Sharpe while at the same time making it clear to the reader that the Captain is a good man in a lousy situation.
All in all this was a very good first novel of a much loved series.
Sharpe's Gold is not George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series, but a straight up action adventure narrative with a romantic leading man...Fraser's series was perhaps better but the Flashman books were also populated by a darkness that was only saved by humor and a courage which Cornwell's books lack. Courage in the sense of an honesty about how those of that time felt about race, gender, and class.
In the end, the Sharpe series is about good, honest escapist fun, and this Cornwell delivers in abundance.
Jack Carnac’s Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, of highly dubious origin, has received on GoodReads an overall rating of 3.31 stars (as of writing). TJack Carnac’s Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, of highly dubious origin, has received on GoodReads an overall rating of 3.31 stars (as of writing). This rating sums up the quality of this bit of ripperture (ripper literature).
Although not a bad bit of pseudo life-writing it remains only a mildly engaging work with no great insights into the character of this J.R. If it was written in the late ‘20s or early ‘30s it should have included some of the vulgar Freudianisms that were floating about the intellectual world at the time, but Carnac’s autobiography demonstrates none of these. Perhaps Carnac had no interest in these tropes of human nature, but he should have been able to offer something insightful about the character. In fact, there is very little insight at all.
Here is where the book fails, but not overly, and that is that there is almost no great understanding of the man, his character, or impulsions.
For all this, it was still a mildly amusing and engaging read. For those drawn to criminology, crime, True Crime, or the amateur study of psychopathology this may be an enjoyable read…for others it may simply be diverting.
The Flashman Papers comes to its end with Flashman on the March, not because the adventures of Flashy are over but because it was the last in the seriThe Flashman Papers comes to its end with Flashman on the March, not because the adventures of Flashy are over but because it was the last in the series George MacDonald Fraser completed before his death in 2007. Though a good, long life, Mr. Fraser died at 82, it was not long enough to complete the adventures of the eponymous hero Harry Flashman. The only Englishman whose life was and is deserving of such a history would be Winston Churchill and they both have, and will continue, to create quite a stir in the world of Social Justice Warriors [but, well, stuff them!].
The Flashman series was a wonderful series of comic novels that also engaged intelligently with Britain's imperial past. By no means does Mr. Fraser attempt to whitewash the past, but he does deal with it a damn sight more intelligently than most left-leaning liberals and Guardian sops. This alone make the books worth reading. However, the novels are mostly worth reading because they are instances of excellent storytelling and unbelievably funny writing; along with being very perceptive of human nature.
How good are the books? They inspire a couple of spin-offs by other writers that take on the earlier generation and the later generation of Flashmans. How well these novels do remains to be seen, but, if nothing else, enough people have loved these books to warrant spin-offs.
Flashman on the March leaves the series on a high note. Some of the later books seemed almost perfunctory, but with March the vim and verve of Flashy is recaptured and the jokes/gags are flying on every page. Also, the narrative is fast moving and engaging.
This is a must read in the series.
Highly recommended for lovers of good historical fiction, comic novels, satire, and parody.
Flashman and the Tiger, by G.M. Fraser, finds Flashy in old age. Though enjoyable, Harry Flashman doesn't quite pull off old age, but it is a revealinFlashman and the Tiger, by G.M. Fraser, finds Flashy in old age. Though enjoyable, Harry Flashman doesn't quite pull off old age, but it is a revealing look at the anti-hero's later years, and for this reason alone the book is worth the effort.
Readers should note this is not a novel but a collection of three novellas.
Flashman and the Tiger is the penultimate volume in the series and it appears the author was attempting to hurry the series to a conclusion with it. In some ways the stories feel rushed. Each of the novellas could have been novel in their own right and may have been better if they had been, but Mr. Fraser, for whatever reason, seemed to think a conclusion was necessary. In consequence, readers are presented with Flash in later life. Though interesting, it is also rather sad--which is generally true for everyone as age takes hold and the grave is more than an abstract notion.
Volume 9 of The Flashman Papers, Flashman and the Mountain of Light, finds the Empire's pre-eminent scallywag avoiding Queen's Victoria's request forVolume 9 of The Flashman Papers, Flashman and the Mountain of Light, finds the Empire's pre-eminent scallywag avoiding Queen's Victoria's request for the history of one of the central gems in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Privately, Harry Flashman reveals the true story in his Papers.
The story opens before the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-6 and covers this period. Flashman this time around is a Political Officer and is dragged into becoming a spy when all he wants to do is get back to is hot, randy, and possibly slutty wife, Elsbeth.
Aside from the hilariously despicable adventures of our hero, there is also a careful history of this conflict offered. One of the most interesting parts of Mr. Fraser's Flashman novels is their careful attention to history and the critique of the often politically motivated interpretation of this in the post-colonial era. The author is balanced and fair in his reading of this history, and that is rarely to be found in academic historians today whom, for the most part, follow the intellectual and moralizing fashion of their time.
This was an excellent read and will be of interest to those with a taste for history, comedy, and immoral protagonists...though not quite evil. Harry is solidly fixed in the anti-hero tradition popular today.
The 8th installment of The Flashman Papers takes Harry Flashman to China during the Taiping Rebellion and the Second Opium War [specifically 1860[.
FlThe 8th installment of The Flashman Papers takes Harry Flashman to China during the Taiping Rebellion and the Second Opium War [specifically 1860[.
Flashman and the Dragon finds the eponymous hero dodging, weaving, cowering, lying, cheating, and finagling his way through China in an attempt to get back to England and Elspeth [his philandering wife...maybe].
After a while the Flashman books begin to blend one into another. Essentially this is because they are all, pretty much, the same book. To be sure, geography and characters change, and their place within mid to late 19th Century history. However, how Harry gets himself into and out of trouble, by the skin of his teeth, is almost always the same. What saves the books from tedium is the character of Flashman, the humor, and the honest interrogation of the Empire and the history Britain blundered through...if George MacDonald Fraser is to be believed.
In the end, this is a solid entry in the series and may inspire many readers to look into the Taiping Rebellion, the Second Opium War, and the burning of the Summer Palace.
With The Flashman Papers it is less important where the reader begins then that they begin. The author often recounts events in Harry's past and future life that enables the reader to begin just about anywhere in the series. Of course, ideally the reader should begin with the first book, Flashman, but it isn't absolutely necessary.
Recommended for readers of historical fiction; fans of parody and satire, and those who enjoy a good, if seedy, adventure.
The approach of many Europeans to America often leave North Americans a little bewildered and wondering whether or not they've any idea, at all, aboutThe approach of many Europeans to America often leave North Americans a little bewildered and wondering whether or not they've any idea, at all, about what is actually going on in the Americas in general and North America in particular. George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman and the Redskins [Bk 7 of The Flashman Papers] is another example of this. This Flashman, as all the Flashman books, has been painstakingly researched by the author in order to get the history correct, but at the level of characters readers are often left wondering whether or not this is just a European masked-ball.
To be sure, Flashman and the Redskins had its moments but these were overshadowed by the book's episodic nature, flat-ish American characters, and the problematic characters of Custer, his wife, and many other historical American characters. Though correct, for the most part, in detail, the historical characters were more pastiches than anything else.
The book, plot/story, is made up of two independent, though linked, novellas that have been welded together. The first part of the book picks up Harry Flashman after the events of Flash For Freedom [Bk 3 of The Flashman Papers] and follows him through 1849-50 and his trip across the American frontier to his escape from the U.S. via the west coast. The second part of the book takes place 25 years later in which Flash and the ever facile Elspeth [Harry's wife] take a trip to America. Of course, Flash's past comes back to haunt him, and here is the link between the two halves of the story.
Though deftly handled, the two narratives could have, perhaps should have been, separate books and they'd have been better for it.
Ultimately, the only ones that will truly enjoy this addition to The Flashman Papers are hardcore fans.
Flashman's Lady, by George MacDonald Fraser, [book 6 in the Flashman series] is for the most part a great romp. If you are a reader from one of the maFlashman's Lady, by George MacDonald Fraser, [book 6 in the Flashman series] is for the most part a great romp. If you are a reader from one of the many cricket loving nations then the whole book will be enjoyable. However, for those readers who do not love or understand the fascination with cricket the first part of the book may seem incomprehensible and, occasionally, tedious.
Not to worry, once Flashy has taken to the high-seas with his ditzy wife and dour father-in-law in tow the adventure perks up and the rest of the book is clear sailing: not for Flashman, of course, but the reader.
Spoilers. The wife is kidnapped, Flashman is in pursuit, if reluctantly, and there are pirates, well, just about everywhere...and they're a scurvy lot. Things really pick up with James Brooke/The White Raja and then Ranavalona 1 [the mad Queen of Madagascar]: both of these are historical characters.
One of the pleasures of the Flashman books is the deft manner in which Mr. Fraser weaves together history and fiction...rarely sacrificing one for the other. This is a rare gift. Often historical novelists are either good at history or fiction, but rarely both. In Fraser's works you discover a wonderful blend of the two.
In all, Flashman's Lady is a great installment in the continuing, bawdy, deplorable, brilliant, disturbing, and mesmerizing adventures of the anti-hero/bad-boy of the British Empire.
The start is slow and a bit tedious, but the finish is spectacular.
Highly Recommended for enthusiasts of historical fiction, adventure, satire, comedy, anti-heroes [with style], action, and the British Empire. Social Justice Warriors should avoid this wonderfully appalling series.
G. M. Fraser's Flashman in the Great Game is probably, to date, the best in the series.
Here Flashman has been caught up in the 1857 Indian Mutiny, asG. M. Fraser's Flashman in the Great Game is probably, to date, the best in the series.
Here Flashman has been caught up in the 1857 Indian Mutiny, as it is popularly referred as.
There are moments of Flashman's loathsome, but endearing, humor, for the most part, however, the brutality of the Mutiny, on both sides, is front and center. Many will cringe at the barbarity but Mr. Fraser has attempted to stay as honest and insightful as is humanly possible when dealing with such a contentious topic.
In an age of post post-colonialism it is difficult to look back on the British Empire, or the American for the matter, without a reflexive cringe, but at the same time it is a fascinating period. The first global economy emerged during the the period of British Imperialism and the values, for the most part, that would become a central feature of our own nascent global civilization were given voice by the Imperial Age.
These sentiments have been hotly debated and they will continue to be. Europeans, and those of European descent, will argue for the civilizing influence of the Empire while those of non-European descent, especially those whose ancestors were subjected to its 'tender' mercies, will argue for its barbarities -- which are on full display in the Flashman books...though Fraser attempts to be balanced in his reading of this part of British history.
This dialectic will not see its conclusion any time soon. The origins of this, obviously enough, are to be found in history and, perhaps, resentment at the European success stories, and those of many of its former colonies.
Nonetheless, Flashman in the Great Game is a rousing good story that has been well handled by the author and may encourage an interesting debate about the Indian Mutiny and what place in world history it is to occupy.
Recommended for readers of historical fiction, adventure/action aficionados, and enthusiasts of the comic novel. Social justice warriors looking for something else to rail about on Twitter might enjoy Flashman in the Great Game for the cathartic, auto-erotic rage it will inspire.
If Flash For Freedom, the third book in the series, was a stumble into an area that no one has managed to make funny [the international, illegal slaveIf Flash For Freedom, the third book in the series, was a stumble into an area that no one has managed to make funny [the international, illegal slave trade of the 19th Century and American slavery], Flashman at the Charge is a true return to form. Perhaps this volume is the funniest and most informative of the series.
Here Flashy finds himself in the middle of the Crimean War, the charge of the Light Brigade, and a minor, but deeply significant, war in Central Asia to prevent the Russians from invading India.
The narrative has all the earmarks of a great Flashman adventure: critique of war, lampooning the ruling classes [British], a virulent send-up of the British Military...the Empire doesn't escape a sideswipe either.
All-in-all, this was an excellent read and extremely funny. Though it would help to have read the other books in the series before this one, it is not strictly necessary for enjoying Flashman at the Charge. Another win for the author, George MacDonald Fraser.
Rating: a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars
Recommended for those readers who enjoy historical novels, comic novels, satire, adventure, and Empire fiction. ...more
Flash for Freedom! is a very difficult book to review because there are two things going on, and both of these functioning at very different levels.
FFlash for Freedom! is a very difficult book to review because there are two things going on, and both of these functioning at very different levels.
Firstly, as a Satire. The problem with Flash For Freedom as satire and/or a comic novel is the subject matter does not entirely support the genres at this time. Illegal slavers, slavery in the US, and Flash's typical cowardice. Freedom never is entirely funny because of this. The social commentary is there and the view is politically correct but one never smiles or even feels the impulse to smile. If there is an emotional reaction to Flash For Freedom it is the cringe and gag response. On this level, the book is a bit of a failure.
Secondly, as Craft Mr. Fraser is in full command of plot, crisis, incident, pacing, dialogue, style, and characterizations. All the marks are struck on the technical levels.
What the reader is left with is a serious bit of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand the story is filled with far more cringe than smiles, but on the other the technique is that of a master.
In the end it is hard to come down for or against Flash For Freedom.
Recommended only for hardcore Flashman fanboys--nonetheless an interesting effort.
Royal Flash is a interpretation, along despicable Flashy lines, of Anthony Hawkins' The Prisoner of Zenda. Fraser, through Flashman, even goes so farRoyal 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 first...in its broad outlines. Nonetheless, Royal Flash was fun.
What is getting a little tedious is that he lies, cheats, and finagles his cowardly way through the book outwitting everyone through intelligence, luck, and duplicity, however in the end he becomes suddenly stupid and loses everything he hoped to gain excepting his freedom and life. This doesn't ring quite true--after all, it is the cowardly villains that do well in the world [bankers and politicians for instance].
That said, Flashman as an anti-hero is only possible because the hoi polloi will only stomach his villainy if he gets his comeuppance. Sad that, villains should be shown as more successful than not in this world simply because they are. But there you have it--middle class values will out for the feckless reading public...god curse their decency.
Recommended for fans of comic anti-heroes and historical fiction.
The Social Justice Warriors and PC Police are going to want to either give Flashman, as well as the other 11 books in the series, a wide berth or theyThe Social Justice Warriors and PC Police are going to want to either give Flashman, as well as the other 11 books in the series, a wide berth or they'll be wanting to start a Twitter campaign against the vile and loathsome Flashman and his equally problematic author George MacDonald Fraser.
As for the rest of the 'male' reading audience they will have great fun with this series [Flashman was first published in '69]. The series follows a 'cad', 'bounder', 'liar', 'cheat', 'coward', etc. in his rambles through the 19th Century as a British Imperial officer. The books, essentially, are a satire of the Empire and a backhanded compliment to it as well [if the reader squints just right].
Flashman is honestly dishonest and forthrightly despicable. If that is your 'cup of tea' then such readers will enjoy this series very much. If, however, you have a moral conscience and harbor any feminist sensibilities you are going to want to stay far away from the Flashman series.
The characters are well drawn, the plot tight, the energy always kept high, the action always on the move, and the picaresque sensibilities all well-honed.
Flashy is no damn good, and he loves to reminded the reader of this again and again and again...proves it at every turn as well.
In an age drunk on its own cynicism this book should read well with a male audience and perhaps with some women as well...but there is a strong misogynistic strain in the work. Though this is handled in such a way that can be dismissed, it mostly comes from Flashman and he is a wicked, faithless creature [says so himself].
All in all, it was a wonderful read and can be highly recommended with the above caveats kept in mind.