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fergo
2012-02-13, 09:05 AM
(Yes, I know the title doesn't make any sense :smalltongue:).

This thread is for discussing the exploits of Sir Harry Paget Flashman (VC KCB KCIE), to marvel at his daring and deplore his depravity.

Anyone else here a fan of the books by George MacDonald Fraser?

Sure, the main character is a nasty bully. Sure, they border on being a little too jingoistic (in a round-about, somewhat subtle way) for me sometimes. But these books are probably one of my favoruite series ever.

They're exciting, fascinating, sometimes even moving (especially the later books). The main character is at once completely vile and extremely likeable, and I hope I'm not the only one who, at points, was fooled into thinking he was a 'good man' (I won't go into details outside spoilers because I think it has more effect when reading for the first time if you don't know about it beforehand).

A couple of things for those thinking about reading:

1. Try and read them in the order published, not the chronological order. The character development is much better that way (I know it doesn't really make much sense for character development to apply retrospectively, but you don't really notice it at the time).

2. Notwithstanding the above, I personally found the first two books to be a bit less grabbing than some of the later ones (others may disagree). Specifically, Flashman in the first book is completely devoid of any saving grace that makes him more than an ogre-like characature. If you get stuck, just try and keep on going; the series gets much better.

3. It's awful. Absolutely awful. Don't take anything Flashman says about race, religion or nationality (or pretty much anything else) to heart.


So, any other fans on these forums? :smallbiggrin:

[edit] The only other thread on Flashman I found was this one (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187023), which didn't have the same focus, so I thought I'd be ok posting this one.

dehro
2012-02-13, 09:49 AM
I've hated him, that is, the character
my reply is pretty much what I said about him here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187023&highlight=flashman)

Terraoblivion
2012-02-13, 09:51 AM
I read most of them a long time ago, so my details are rusty. But they are indeed adventurous and exciting and for how much of a scumbag displaying the absolutely worst of the Victorian era, Flashman still does come off likable like you say. Just like his (probably not) vapid wife does, she really does seem like a woman who knows just how to make the best of the situation in a rigid society that doesn't allow her to be direct about anything. Still, he might be likable, but that doesn't mean you ought to like him, he really is a horrible person in every way from how he treats his subordinates to his views on race, gender, religion, etc. He doesn't have much higher thoughts about the British, though, nor any class of society, including his own.

Another noteworthy trait is how historically accurate they are. Right down to how the descriptions of the river battle in Borneo actually having a guy falling overboard at the point Flashman does. The notes in the Danish translation are quite a joy as they really pulls this to the fore and reveals it.

comicshorse
2012-02-13, 11:33 AM
I love the Flashman novels and am therefore very grateful that I didn't read the first novel first because in that Sir Harry is so vile I don't think I'd have read another. In later novels the other gets the balance right toning down his evil (while still keeping him the lying, cowardly, greedy,cheating lecherous scumbag he is) and making him more charming and even having the occasional glimmer of finer feelings.
I'm a history buff and they really bring the period and particularly the battles, the author served in the British army and takes that stuff seriously, to vivid and glorious life.
I loved all past the first one, the first one I like and some of that is in retrospect.

Selrahc
2012-02-13, 01:01 PM
I really enjoy the books.


(I won't go into details outside spoilers because I think it has more effect when reading for the first time if you don't know about it beforehand).


When would you think he was a good man? He is fairly unceasingly despicable at almost all points, and never ceases his ways for more than a few dozen pages. In an entertaining and charismatic fashion, but still... Are you talking about the
time he was drugged in Russia?



I love the Flashman novels and am therefore very grateful that I didn't read the first novel first

I think Flashman does more utterly despicable things in the first three books, than in the entire rest of the series combined.

Book one: Rape, murder and just a much darker character and style. This was the book that had a lot American reviewers believing it was real.
Book two: Torture and cold blooded murder, I think the only cold blooded killing by Flashman in the series. It was at least in a much jauntier book though.
Book three: Slaver, and a pretty cruel one too for all his self defence. Fraser spends a lot of time examining the morality of it in this one, with even Flashman saying that slaving was a bit rum. Still includes some despicable stuff.

The only other book containing a deed on the level of these ones was Flashman and the Redskins, where Flash joins a party to kill and execute Apache women and children for scalp bounty. That was a bit queasy and totally inexcusable, particularly coming right on the heels of him selling a woman who loved him into slavery.


All in all though, most of the books, most of the time... it's a fun jaunty rogue who happens to be a coward and brigand. It's written expertly. It's got very good period detail. Well worth a read. There are patterns that the series falls into over and over again, but I think each book has enough difference to be worth reading. Certainly try out one or two of them.

Adlan
2012-02-13, 02:21 PM
, where Flash joins a party to kill and execute Apache women and children for scalp bounty. That was a bit queasy and totally inexcusable, particularly coming right on the heels of him selling a woman who loved him into slavery.


As I recall, didn't Flashman join up with the Scalp hunters because it was that or be scalped? or at least the implied threat. I don't have my books to hand to check.

But I agree, he's a bounder, a rotter and a cad. I wonder if I'm one of the few who read Tom Brown's School days before I ever came across Flashman in his own series. I read them in Chronological Order, and found the character progression works in that way too. The first Book follows on nicely to his lead off in Tom Brown's schooldays
Where in, as I recall, he beats and tortures the younger boys, toadied to the older ones. He cheated in a fair fight and deceived/raped a local girl, leaving her pregnant and then abandoning her. He's finally expelled for drunkenness.

I don't think we should feel bad about liking the bad guy. Flashman is undoubtedly a bad guy, but he's the mock-heroic (he survives enough), honest (with us now anyway, never in life) Charmer who steals your horse while kissing your daughter.

hamishspence
2012-02-13, 03:58 PM
For more "likeable rotters" from George Macdonald Fraser, there's Colonel Blood in The Pyrates, and Gilderoy in The Reavers.

Those are much more comic than the Flashman books though.

dehro
2012-02-13, 04:09 PM
meh.. I like me a rogue and a bad guy as much as the next person..if they have at least one redeeming quality. flashman doesn't seem to have any.. so no, I'm rather happy with not having insisted any further than the 2 books I've read.

comicshorse
2012-02-13, 07:22 PM
meh.. I like me a rogue and a bad guy as much as the next person..if they have at least one redeeming quality. flashman doesn't seem to have any.. so no, I'm rather happy with not having insisted any further than the 2 books I've read.

Flashman's redeming feature are his honesty about himself but mostly is his love for his wife and family. He is an enormous coward yet planned to kill one of the most dangerous man he ever meet in order to protect his daughter

fergo
2012-02-14, 05:34 AM
For more "likeable rotters" from George Macdonald Fraser, there's Colonel Blood in The Pyrates, and Gilderoy in The Reavers.

Those are much more comic than the Flashman books though.

Coming from the borders myself (and born in the same city as Mr. McDonald Fraser himself) I loved The Reavers. The opening sentance (you know, the one that lasts about a page and a half) made me laugh out loud several times. For lovers of slightly surreal silliness, I would advise these two books without a doubt.

Also good is Mr. American (featuring a fantastic cameo by Flashman, to top it off). It has its funny moments, but on the whole it's a serious look at British culture and society before the War.



meh.. I like me a rogue and a bad guy as much as the next person..if they have at least one redeeming quality. flashman doesn't seem to have any.. so no, I'm rather happy with not having insisted any further than the 2 books I've read.

Just out of interest, which two books were they?





When would you think he was a good man? He is fairly unceasingly despicable at almost all points, and never ceases his ways for more than a few dozen pages. In an entertaining and charismatic fashion, but still...


As someone else mentioned,
it's his love for his family and, sometimes, his respect for his friends (of all races and cultures).

The way he describes different places borders on beautiful sometimes. I still shiver whenever I think of

"To learn the age-old lesson day by day,
It is not the bright arival planned,
But the dreams men dream along the way,
On the golden road to Samarkand."

(Written from memory, so sorry if I can't remember it right :smallyuk:).


The only other book containing a deed on the level of these ones was Flashman and the Redskins, where Flash joins a party to kill and execute Apache women and children for scalp bounty. That was a bit queasy and totally inexcusable, particularly coming right on the heels of him selling a woman who loved him into slavery.




I don't know, I know those deeds are pretty awful, but I still think of that book as showing the nicer side of Flashman.

E.g. how he talks about his (ex-third-) wife (can't remember her name off the top of my head) and of course the guy who appears at the end of it... you know the one I mean... even in spoilers I don't want to go into details :smalltongue:.


I'm a history buff and they really bring the period and particularly the battles, the author served in the British army and takes that stuff seriously, to vivid and glorious life.


I agree, the sheer ammount of research--and the genuine love the writer has for his subject--is staggering.

Elm11
2012-02-16, 02:23 AM
In all honesty, I couldn't get over the extreme depravity of Flashman, and really couldn't reconcile him in the slightest. Now, there's a series like flashman that I do enjoy very much.

And it has lasers.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

CIAPHAS CAIN, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!

It's pretty much flashman, except not such a jerk and I can actually relate to him!

EDIT: Having read a little more of the thread, I'll happily admit that I only read the first book and vowed not to touch the series again.

dehro
2012-02-16, 02:46 AM
Just out of interest, which two books were they?

I'm guessing the first 2..which should be first 2 in chronological order, unless he's gone prequel

Selrahc
2012-02-16, 03:40 AM
It's pretty much flashman, except not such a jerk and I can actually relate to him!

Except it loses the historical setting and a lot of the skill with prose.

Also, the fact that Flashman is a craven cur is not a point that I dislike. It's something I enjoy. For the most part, it's rather amusing and it leads into good situations. I find the softening of the character archetype for Cain into a much more heroic figure really loses a lot. It makes for a more generic figure. Cain novels are typical sci-fi action fare, except with a self deprecating narrator. Flashman novels are quite unique.

fergo
2012-02-17, 08:16 AM
Cain is good, and I love the obvious Flashman/Blackadder thing they have going on, but I have to go with Selrahc. Flashman is just a step beyond, in my opinion :smalltongue:.