George MacDonald Fraser's famous Flashman series appearing for the first time in B-format with an exciting new series style, ready to please his legions of old fans and attract armies of new ones. The Flashman Papers 1849--50 and 1875--1876 Vol. Seven What was Harry Flashman doing on the slopes of the Little Bighorn, caught between the gallant remnant of Custer's 7th Cavalry and the withering attack of Sitting Bull's Braves? He was trying to get out of the line of fire and escape yet again with his life (if not with his honour) intact after setting the American West by its ears. Here is the legendary and authentic West of the Mangas Colorado and Kit Carson, of Custer and Spotted Tail, of Crazy Horse and the Deadwood stage, gunfighters and gamblers, eccentrics, scoundrels and, of course, Indian belles, dusky beauties, enthusiastic widows and mysterious adventuresses; this seventh volume of The Flashman Papers shows the West as it really was. Terrifying
He leaves Susie along the west (and in order to take his leave, he commits a deed that is shameful even by Harry Flashman’s standards.) He then begins a wild trip across the Old West, even living with Apaches for awhile (where he weds yet again). Along the way, the reader meets many historical characters including Spotted Tail, John Joel Glanton, Mangas Coloradas, Geronimo, and Kit Carson. One of the more interesting historical bits involves Bent’s Fort and its mysterious destruction. Harry was there and resolves the mystery.
As always Fraser deflates the mythology surrounding historical figures. This characteristic debunking is a bit odd because Fraser believed the mythology about his own army and his own war, the Indian 17th Division of the British Army fighting in Burma during the last months of World War Two (See his war memoir [[ASIN:1602391904 Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II]]).
Flashman manages to escape the Apaches and returns to England. In Part Two, Elspeth, his ‘real’ English wife convinces Harry to return to the States, which introduces us to even more historical figures and eventually lands Harry right in the midst of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I found the first part more entertaining and the ending was more than a bit of stretch.
Fraser is a marvelous story teller and as he spins out his entertaining tales one also picks up a good deal of history. The reader should exercise caution in accepting Fraser’s history. His version tends to be based on older sources and he eschewed more modern works (and certainly rejected modern viewpoints). Enjoy it for what it is: well-told speculations on historical mysteries. While some will be offended by Flashman’s views on women, Indians, Africans, and other people of color, in fairness, he also did not generally hold other white men in high regard, perhaps because Harry knew what a scoundrel he was himself.
The Flashman novels could be dismissed as sensationalized light reading , but Fraser cleverly tied his character into most of the major events of the last sixty years of the nineteenth century, a Victorian Zelig or Forrest Gump. Flashman casually mentions this minor detail or that simple observation, then Fraser in his assumed role as editor of the Flashman papers meticulously explains in the endnotes how these mentions by Flashman confirm the truth of his narrative, since only if Flashman was there could he have known about this fact or that. Fraser's endnotes also round out the historic details of the narrative, giving background and elaboration to the history-as-I-lived-it tales told by Flashman. It all works wonderfully, even if you somewhat suspect that some details are being outrageously fabricated.
I very strongly recommend these books to anyone who has an interest in history and is willing to keep an open mind towards the womanizing and the language (the n-word appears quite a bit, but completely in character for Flashman). I would suggest the best way to read them is in order of publication. This doesn't follow Flashman's own life chronology, but the books published later often make reference to previous editions of the "Flashman Papers" and so is more fun for the reader to follow.
The first five Flashman novels were presented in chronological order. This “packet”, like its immediate predecessor, acts to fill in a previous “gap” in the Flashman timeline. From a chronological standpoint, the adventures of this novel immediately follow those contained in Flash For Freedom, wherein we left Flashman in the port of New Orleans awaiting transport to England. Alas, poor Harry is instead destined for adventures in the American West of 1849-50. The story then skips over 25 years and picks up again with Flashman attending the wedding of his good friend Philip Sheridan in Chicago. From there, our friend Flash hooks up with General George Custer for a leisurely ride through the Black Hills of Dakota and into Montana.
As in the previous Flashman novels, our Harry is revealed as the premier coward and opportunist of his era; faults which he quite willingly admits and even boasts of. Much as a prior day Forrest Gump, he has a way of finding himself among the most powerful and famous personages of his era, as he takes part in the great events of the period, in this case meeting a young Geronimo on the Santa Fe Trail, traveling with Kit Carson and riding among the American cavalry at Little Big Horn.
Aside from uproarious fun and games, the Flashman series is set against historical events and actually serves as an educational experience. On to volume eight of the Flashman Papers.
Fast forward and Flash is back in the States, this time with his real wife, Elspeth. To give you some perspective, the events in Royal Flash happened twenty eight years earlier. Remember Otto von Bismarck? This time Flashman is up against an even craftier opponent...a woman he has wronged (it was bound to happen sometime).