This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Series: The Flashman Papers #1
Authors: George Fraser
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Presented within the frame of the discovery of the supposedly historical Flashman Papers, this book chronicles the subsequent career of the bully Flashman from Tom Brown’s School Days. The book begins with a fictional note explaining that the Flashman Papers were discovered in 1965 during a sale of household furniture in Ashby, Leicestershire.
The papers are attributed to Harry Paget Flashman, the bully featured in Thomas Hughes’ novel, who becomes a well-known Victorian military hero (in Fraser’s fictional England). The papers were supposedly written between 1900 and 1905. The subsequent publishing of these papers, of which Flashman is the first installment, contrasts the public image of a (fictional) hero with his own more scandalous account of his life as an amoral and cowardly bully.
Flashman begins with the eponymous hero’s own account of his expulsion from Rugby and ends with his fame as “the Hector of Afghanistan”. It details his life from 1839 to 1842 and his travels to Scotland, India, and Afghanistan.
It also contains a number of notes by the author, in the guise of a mere editor of the papers, providing additional historical glosses on the events described. The history in these books is largely accurate; most of the prominent figures Flashman meets were real people.
Flashman’s expulsion from Rugby for drunkenness leads him to join the British Army in what he hopes will be a sinecure. He joins the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons commanded by Lord Cardigan, to whom he toadies in his best style. After an affair with a fellow-officer’s lover, he is challenged to a duel but wins after promising a large sum of money to the pistol loader to give his opponent a blank load in his gun. He does not kill his opponent but instead delopes and accidentally shoots the top off a bottle thirty yards away, an action that gives him instant fame and the respect of the Duke of Wellington.
Once the reason for fighting emerges, the army stations Flashman in Scotland. He is quartered with the family of textile industrialist Morrison and soon enough takes advantage of one of the daughters, Elspeth. After a forced marriage, Flashman is required to resign the Hussars due to marrying below his station. He is given another option, to make his reputation in India.
By showing off his language and riding skills in India, Flashman is assigned to the staff of Major General William George Keith Elphinstone, who is to command the garrison at the worst frontier of the British Empire at that time, Afghanistan. Upon arrival, he meets a soldier who relates the narrow escape he made in November 1842, on the first night of the Afghan Uprising. After Akbar Khan proclaims a general revolt which the citizens of Kabul immediately heed, a mob storms the house of Sir Alexander Burnes, one of the senior British political officers, and murders him and his staff. The soldier, stationed nearby, manages to flee in midst of the confusion.
This tale sets the tone for Flashman’s proceeding adventures, including the 1842 retreat from Kabul and the Battle of Jellalabad, in the First Anglo-Afghan War. Despite being captured, tortured and escaping death numerous times, hiding and shirking his duty as much as possible, he comes through it with a hero’s reputation … although his triumph is tempered when he realizes his wife might have been unfaithful while he was away.
The byline by one paper’s review (on the cover but probably illegible at that size) is “Villainy Triumphant”. That is the most apt description for this book.
This was a vile piece of filth, a vomitorium of trash, something so wrong that it left me sputtering because I couldn’t finds to express my utter disgust and horror that something like this could exist.
Flashman lies, cheats, murders and rapes his way through this book and is not only unrepentant but glad he did everything he did. He also considers anyone not looking out exclusively for themselves as idiots of the first order. While Flashman might be a fictional construct, the author thought this up and I trust he will be judged in the end for having created something so vile.
Evil and vile are the two words that spring to mind. I am sickened and appalled that someone would write something like this for entertainment.
This month is not turning out well for me and books.