Flashman in the Great Game

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman in the Great Game. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1975.

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

We have been following Harry Flashman through his adventures (the Afghanistan War, encounters with Count Bismarck and Lola Montes, the African slave trade and the Crimean War). This time the year is 1856 and he is caught up in the Great Indian Mutiny and this is, by far, his bloodiest adventure yet. Flashman has been chosen to be a secret agent to discover who is cooking up the rebellion. Thanks to his knowledge of various languages and his ability to blend in with the natives Flashy is able to discern the enemy is none other than his old nemesis, Count Nicholas Pavlevitch. Once again, coward Harry Flashman is in the thick of it, battling Russian spies, secret assassins, rampaging mutineers and Thugs. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for a quick roll in the hay with prostitutes and even Lakshmaibai, the “Jezebel of Jhansi.” Some things never change.

The great game is described as to lie low in disguise, watching, listening and waiting for the right time to strike. Considering this is about the Indian Mutiny, that sounds about right.

Quotes I liked, “The truth is we all live under false pretenses much of the time; you just have to put on a bold front and brazen through” (p 109), and “Sufficient to say that fear, shock, ignorance, and racial and religious intolerance, on both sides, combined to produce a hatred akin to madness in some individuals…” (p 327). Again, some things never change.
I also liked the dedication, “For the Mad White Woman of Papar River.”

Book trivia: portions of Flashman in the Great Game appeared in Playboy Magazine.

Author fact: I’ve got nothing new this time around but fear not! I have at least 4 or 5 more times to write something else about Mr. Fraser.

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

Flashman at the Charge

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman at the Charge. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1973.

Are you paying attention? By now we are up to the fourth installment of papers owned by Mr Paget Morrison. As a reminder, Harry Flashman is the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. To bring the reader up to speed,┬áthe first three packets of papers revealed Flashy’s early military career, his involvement in the 1st Afghan War, his run-in with Otto Bismark (& Lola Montez), and his escapades as a slaver in West Africa. At the end of the last packet of papers Flashman’s wife, Elspeth, was pregnant with their(?) son. Flashman admits he’s not sure it’s his, especially after he catches his wife with a lover.
In the fourth installment the year is now 1854 and this time Flashy has been appointed as special guardian to Prince William of Celle during the Crimean War. His son, Harry Albert Victor (aka “Havvy”) is five years old. I don’t think I am giving anything away when I say Flashman is taken prisoner and makes an interesting deal with his captor. The outcome of that deal is not revealed in Flashman at the Charge. Maybe in the next installment?
George MacDonald Fraser calls himself the “editor” of this packet of papers and admits he only corrected spelling and added necessary footnotes (and there are a lot of them, as always).I have to admit, I’m still not used to the downright silliness of Fraser’s writing. Case in point – in the heat of battle Flashman has gas, “I remember, my stomach was asserting itself again, and I rode yelling with panic and farting furiously at the same time” (p 105). What I liked the best about this set of papers is that there is someone who sees through Flashman’s cowardice (finally!).

Reason read: to continue the series started in April (Fraser’s birthday).

Author fact: Fraser has been called a “comic novelist”. His writing is funny, I have to admit.

Book trivia: Interesting tidbit: the back flap ends with this statement, “Read Flashman at the Charge and you’ll understand his international reputation as:” That’s it. They leave you hanging.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). I have to note that Nancy Pearl called this Flash at the Charge (both within the chapter and in the index) when it should be Flashman.

Flash for Freedom

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flash for Freedom! New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April (George MacDonald Fraser’s birth month).

If you are keeping track, this is the third installment of the Flashman papers “owned” by Mr. Paget Morrison. To recap the first two packets of papers (published in 1969 & 1970): Flashman has been expelled from Rugby School, served in the British army and survived a skirmish with Otto von Bismark. The third packet picks up in the year 1848 and seems to be initially edited by Flashman’s sister-in-law, Grizel de Rothchild as the swearwords are heavily edited and the sex is practically nonexistent (unheard of for our Harry, but don’t worry – it picks up!). This time Harry’s adventure focuses on a trip to America (Washington and New Orleans) where he meets Abraham Lincoln, gets caught up in the slave trade (with the underground railroad and as a salve runner), and par for the course, nearly loses his life several times over. Once again, it’s a woman who saves his bacon.

The more I read the Flashman series, the more I like Flashy’s humor. I can’t help it. When he called his mother-in-law a “Medusa-in-law” I giggled.

Author fact: I’m leaving off the author fact from here on out because I’ve already ready four Fraser books and there is only so much I can say about him. If something interesting pops up I’ll share on the next book.

Book trivia: The cover of Flash for Freedom is really odd.

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

Royal Flash

Fraser, George MacDonald. Royal Flash: From the Flashman Papers, 1842-3 and 1847. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1970.

Even though I didn’t remember the plot of Flashman, the first book in Fraser’s series, one detail came rushing back to me immediately when I started Royal Flash – Harry Flashman is definitely not short on ego. He’s the same despicable cad he was in the first book. Within the first few pages of Royal Flash he describes himself as handsome, beloved, admired, and respected. And, like the first few pages of Flashman he winds up in the bed of a beautiful woman almost immediately. But, having said all that, he’s still a coward, albeit a clever one at that. He says brazenly, “The world was my oyster, and if it wasn’t my sword that had opened it, no one was any the wiser” (p 4). This time Flashy has got himself in deep. As payback for an earlier embarrassment Harry is forced to pretend he is Prince Carl Gustaf while the real royalty gets over a bout of the clap. Only, here’s the twist: he takes over for Carl on the eve of his wedding and has to marry the Irma, the frosty Duchess of Strackenz. He is assured the marriage is not binding due to his different religious faith (and the fact he is already married). True to Fraser style, all is not as it seems and Flashman finds himself in one pickle after another.

Couldn’t help myself lines I like, “Royalty – I have Bersonin’s solemn word for it – never claw at their arses to assist thought” (p 113).

Reason read: George MacDonald Fraser was born in the month of April.

Book trivia: this is the second book in the Flashman series. I read Flashman a long time ago (Oct 20, 2009) and had to review my blog to remember what I read.

Author fact: I have heard it said that Harry Flashman is George MacDonald Fraser in disguise. A womanizing coward? Yikes.

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