Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series consists of twelve novels, supposedly written by the hero himself, Harry Flashman. Set in the Victorian era, they show a protagonist who is set apart from the usual British hero formula of the period and shows that Brits can be bastards too.

In this first novel, Flashman is perhaps at his worst, a right bastard of a protagonist, whose only care in the world is self-preservation at the expense of others. The story takes Harry Flashman through duels and family problems to India and Afghanistan where he winds up in the most dangerous battles despite his attempts to the opposite. He's quite happy to hide away in a hole while better and braver men fight and die in bloody battles, only to take credit for those actions when the danger is over and the real heroes are dead.

The writing is great and you end up chuckling to yourself and rooting for the protagonist, even though you hate him for his worst transgressions. Later on in subsequent novels, I think the character mellows down a little and becomes more a lovable rascal than an outright bastard.

In short, I found the first novel in the series to be a rollicking fun read and will look forward to the following additions to the story.