Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser

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Good old Flashy. Or should that be bad old Flashy? Classic antihero Harry Flashman and I would certainly not be friends in real life.

Referenced in famous Tom Brown’s school days, George MacDonald Fraser’s creation is one of a kind; a Victorian British Army hero who is immoral, cowardly, racist, sexist- probably all the ‘ists’ one can be. So why do I want to read about him? Well, only for the fact he’s jolly good fun and gets up to lots of adventures.

This one concerns itself with Flashman’s adventures in Central Asia and Russia. An unwilling participant in the Crimean War, Flashman is captured by the Russians and co-erced into a march across Central Asia to take Afghanistan, bedding, drinking and gambling the whole way.

I ought not to like this series; it’s repetitive, formulaic and patchy in places. But there’s something very joyful and funny about someone trying to bluff their way through famous historical set pieces- no one tells you about having terrible wind at times of stress like the Charge of the Light Brigade (perhaps for a reason).

Whatever you think of him, Flashman gives you that vicarious thrill of having gotten away with having done something bad.

Read: when you’re feeling mischievous.

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