In this entry, Flashy finds himself in Hong Kong (and already knowing Chinese, for some reason) — and quickly is tricked into running guns, meets Frederick Townsend Ward, is sent to parley with the Taipings, is captured by the Imperials, and is present at the burning of the Summer Palace. Not bad for not quite a year’s work, eh?
All the praise I showered on this book when I first read it, not to mention the praise for the other volumes recently, goes here as well. Erudite, bawdy, witty and hilarious, as always. Yes, Flashy’s skill at languages is starting to border on the superhuman — and there are at least two linguistic mistakes as far as my incredibly limited knowledge can tell (“he” and “it” are treated as different words, and “Prince (Y)I” is made to rhyme with “eye”) — but who cares? Another cracking good piece of historical fiction: hilarious, well-researched, compelling. An amazing book, as all the Flashman entries I’ve read have been. It's an erudite, bawdy adventure yarn, masterfully plotted. What’s really impressive is how Fraser puts a human face on historical figures and events, giving concubines, princes and rebels distinct, believable personalities and motives. And he adds Flashman as an historical mover and shaker, to boot. Great stuff.
[Read twice: 1/21/00, 3/14/04]