Flashman and the Tiger

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Tiger.

Reason read: to FINISH the series started in April in honor of Fraser’s birth month finally, right?). While the series might be ending for me there is one more book I will read in honor of GMF but it wasn’t written by him: Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes. Fraser took the bully character from School Days and created the Flashman series. Clever.

The premise for Flashman and the Tiger is simple…sort of: This set of papers is actually made up of three different time frames with three different titles: “Road to Charing Cross” (1878 – 1883-1884), “Subtleties of Baccarat” (1890-1891) and “Flashman and the Tiger (1879 & 1894). This is the first time in the Flashman papers that there has been a change in pattern. Each of these sections is only a minor episode in Flashman’s career. In “Road to Charing Cross” Flashman has found himself, once again, in an adventure he didn’t count on. He goes to France for President “Sam” Grant, who can’t speak french. The plot thickens when he agrees to help a Times reporter by the name of Blowitz. Blowitz wants to be the first to scoop the story of the amendment of the San Stefano Treaty. For the history bluffs: Flashman is one of the first to ride the famed Orient Express, only he isn’t impressed. He prefers the steamship.
In “Subtleties of Baccarat” the Prince of Wales is accused of cheating at baccarat, a French card game. Flashy is caught in the middle when a group of five men ask that he confront the cheater for an explanation.
In “Flashman and the Tiger” confronts Tiger Jack, someone he met earlier (1879). At this point the year is 1894 and Flashy is now 72 years old. Tiger Jack is not out to get our man Harry directly. Instead, he is looking to ruin Flashman through the ruination of Flashman’s teenage granddaughter. For the history buffs in the crowd, Oscar Wilde makes an appearance at the end.

New to the series: Fraser presents the reader with Flashy’s vitae so far. It’s a nice recap of everything that has happened in the previous nine books.

Typical Flashy lines: “I’d come to France to skulk and fornicate in peace, not to travel; on the other hand, I’d never visited Vienna, which in those days was reckoned first among all the other capitals of Europe for immoral high jinks, and a day and a night of luxurious seclusion with Her Highness should make for an amusing journey” (p 58), and “So we talked cricket while waiting for the attempted murder of the Austrian Emperor” (p 133). One more: “You think twice about committing murder when you’re over seventy” (p 295). I would think so!

Author fact: George MacDonald Fraser died three years after the publication of Flashman on the March. Had he lived, I am quite sure Flashman would be in many more adventures.

Book trivia: This is the 10th book in the Flashman series and the last one I will read for the challenge. The series continues with Flashman on the March.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93).

December Missed

Woops! December left us without me writing about the reading. Not sure how that happened (other than to say “life”), but anyway – here’s what was accomplished for December:

  • Beth Shaw’s Yoga Fit by Beth Shaw (an Early Review book for LibraryThing)
  • Cod by Mark Kurlansky
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser
  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  • The Man Who Was Taller Than God by Harold Adams
  • Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett

Here’s a belated look at January 2016 (already started, as you will see):

  1. Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser (the LAST book in the series on my list)
  2. Always a Body to Trade by K.C. Constantine (already read in honor of January being National Mystery month. Read this in a day)
  3. Blue Light by Walter Mosley (already read in honor of Mosley’s birth month. Another quick read)
  4. Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett (the LAST book in the Lymond Series). It bears noting I am also consulting The Prophecies by Nostradamus (translated by Richard Sieburth) while reading Checkmate.
  5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (an audio book in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January)
  6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (in honor of Nabokov’s wife, Vera. Pale Fire is dedicated to her and her birthday is in January)
  7. Up, into the Singing Mountain by Richard Llewellyn (to continue the series started last month).

I have been chosen to review a book about the photography of Dickey Chapelle but since it hasn’t arrived yet I can’t put it on the list. I was also chosen to review Liar by Rob Roberge, but I don’t expect that one until February.

On a personal note: December ended with writing to 12 complete strangers. I am really hoping one or two of them become pen pals.

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Angel of the Lord. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1995.

Reason read: this continues the series started last April in honor of Fraser’s birth month.

If you have been keeping track, the Flashman papers are now in the years 1858 to 1859. Flashman is thirty six years old and back in America where old enemies remember him and new enemies are out to blackmail him. He’s not back by choice, though. Someone from his past had an old score to settle. So here’s Harry, knee deep in the conflicts of slavery…again. This time he’s working with “the angel of the Lord,” John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame. Yes, THAT John Brown.
Interestingly enough, Fraser decided to scale back the sex scenes for this particular installment. In addition to not having many opportunities to shag the lady next door, Flashman appears to be growing up some. To some he doesn’t appear to be as cowardly or as shallow…He still tries to get out of getting out of the October 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry but as usual, is unsuccessful.

For some reason I decided to keep track of the aliases of Flashman this time around:

  • Bully Waterman
  • Grattan Nugent-Hare
  • Beauchamp Millward Comber
  • Joshua

A line that made me laugh: “It’s a shame those books on etiquette don’t have a chapter to cover encounters with murderous lunatics whom you’d hoped never to meet again” (p 38).

Book trivia: this is the tenth Flashy book and penultimate Fraser book on my list. Are you keeping track?

Author fact: What haven’t I told you about George MacDonald Fraser? Have I mentioned he died in January of 2008? Well he did.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93).

Flashman and the Mountain of Light

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Mountain of Light. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Reason read: Some of you might remember, way back in April I started the Flashman series in honor of Fraser’s April birth month. It seems so long ago…

Harry Flashman is back again! It almost seems like he won’t go away. The year is 1845 and this time Flashy is a spy for Her Majesty’s Secret Service! When we last left Flashy he was in Singapore. I have to admit, the start to Flashman and the Mountain of Light was a little slow this time around. It took me two chapters before I really got into it. If you are looking for Fraser’s trademark sex and violence, Flashman and the Mountain of Light does not disappoint. It just takes a little longer to get to. For the historians out there, Fraser covers the Sutlej Crisis and of course, the Mountain of Light or Koh-i-Noor, one of the largest diamonds in the world.

Confessional: this wasn’t my favorite. In fact, I didn’t even finish it.

Favorite line: “Optimism run mad, if you ask me, but then I’ve never been shipwrecked much, and philosophy in the face of tribulation aint my line” (p 105).

Author fact: According to the back flap of Flashman and the Mountain of Light Fraser helped with the screenplay for Lester’s The Three Musketeers. Sounds about right.

Book trivia: This is the ninth book in the Flashman series. I only have two more after this one.

BookLust Twist: Say it with me: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). You would think I would have this information memorized by now.

Flashman and the Dragon

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Dragon. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1986.

Reason read: this is the eighth book in the Flashman series. Hard to believe I started this in April in honor of Fraser’s birth month!

To bring all you historians up to speed: So far in the series Flashman has seen action in four military campaigns: the First Afghan War, Crimea, the Indian Mutiny and the Sioux War of 1879. With Flashman and the Dragon Harry gets himself involved in the Taiping Rebellion. Another worthy note: for this particular installment of papers, George MacDonald Fraser himself acts as editor, admitting he confines his corrections to spelling, while “checking the accuracy of Flashman’s narrative and inserting footnotes wherever necessary.”
Fans of Flashman’s sexual conquests will not be disappointed. As usual, Harry works his charms on a number of different women, the most important being the favored Imperial Yi Concubine, Lady Yehonala (who later became Empress Tzu-hsi). She ends up saving his life (much like my favorite tart, Szu-Zhan, from earlier in the story). “Get ’em weeping, and you’re halfway to climbing all over them” (p 11).

A small word of warning for the faint of heart: there is a lot of detailed violence and torture in this Flashman installment. It’s almost as if Fraser was getting bored with Flashman as just a cowardly womanizer. The action needed to be ramped up a little.

Book trivia: The cover to Flashman and the Dragon is interesting. A nearly naked woman holding a fan is cradled in the arms of a gentleman (not Flashy). The man’s face is partially obscured by the woman’s fan.

Author fact: Fraser has also written a series of short stories, The General Danced at Dawn and McAuslan in the Rough.

BookLust Twist: Are you tired of me saying, “from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93)”? We only have three more after this one.

Flashman and the Redskins

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Redskins. New York: Plume, 1983.

Reason read: Flashman and the Redskins continues the series I started in April in honor of Fraser’s birth month.

Flashman and the Redskins circles back to where Flash for Freedom left off. Harry Flashman is up to his old tricks again. If you think I’m joking just know that sex is mentioned on the very first page. That’s Flashy for you! But, in Flashman and the Redskins he takes it a bit further. To get out of yet another jam Flashman is forced to take up with Susie, a madame of a New Orleans brothel (surprise, surprise), but to further complicate things, he ends up marrying her to ensure safe passage across the west to California. It’s on this journey that Flashman encounters the “redskins” and ends up marrying an Apache Indian too. Never a dull moment for 28 year old Harry. The multiple marriages set the stage for the rest of Flashman’s story with a twist at the end.
Fast forward and Flash is back in the States, this time with his real wife, Elspeth. To give you some perspective, the events in Royal Flash happened twenty eight years earlier. Remember Otto von Bismarck? This time Flashman is up against an even craftier opponent…a woman he has wronged (it was bound to happen sometime).

The charming way Flashman looks at women: “…she looked like a bellydancer who’s gone in for banking” (p 337).

Best line, “But life aint a bed of roses, and you must just pluck the thorns out of your rump and get on” (p 442).

As an aside, earlier this year someone decided Washington D.C.’s professional football team’s name needed to be changed. Suddenly the word “redskin” wasn’t political correct. I have to wonder if someone will try to ban this book on the same premise?

Author fact: What can I tell you about Mr. Fraser this time? According to Flashman and the Redskins Fraser also wrote The Pyrates (another Flashy book; after The Great Game but before Lady). This book is not listed in Book Lust. Hmmm…

Book trivia: for some reason the pagination is weird. The pages skip from xii to 15 immediately and I don’t think any are missing. Odd. Another piece of trivia: my copy included a map of the U.S. from Minnesota to Idaho called “Flashman’s West.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the obvious chapter “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). Where else?

Flashman’s Lady

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman’s Lady. New York: Penguin, 1988.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Fraser’s birth month.

If you are keeping track we are now ten years into the biography of Harry Flashman. This is the sixth packet of papers and introduces events between 1842 – 1845 which were previously missing in earlier manuscripts. Like an earlier packet, this installment was edited by Flashman’s sister-in-law, Grizel de Rothschild and includes journal entries from Fashman’s wife Elspeth. I think it’s hysterical that Grizel cleaned up his “rough” language but left in his exploits with other women (because Flashman always gets his girl, whether she be an African queen or his own lovely wife). And speaking of Elspeth, Flashman has to turn his attention to her (more than normal) when she is kidnapped by a pirate who wants her for himself. Along the way (by way of Madagascar), Flashman is held captive by the ruthless Queen Ranavalona and forced to be her love slave (but of course).

Laugh out loud lines (warning: they are both a little crude): “…her udders were almost in her soup” (p 51) and “For a moment I wondered if having his love-muscle shot off had affected his brain…” (p 144).

Author fact: at the time of publication Fraser was living on the Isle of Man.

Book trivia: the footnotes are not as annoying this time around and there is a great deal of attention paid to the game of cricket.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93).