Harry Flashman: the unrepentant bully of Tom Brown's schooldays, now with a Victoria Cross, has three main talents - horsemanship, facility with foreign languages, and fornication. A reluctant military hero, Flashman plays a key part in most of the defining military campaigns of the 19th century despite trying his utmost to escape them all.
When our hero Flashman accepts an invitation from his old enemy, Tom Brown of Rugby, to join in a friendly cricket match, he does not suspect that he is letting himself in for the most desperate game of his scandalous career.
What follows is a deadly struggle that sees him scampering from the hallowed wicket of Lord's to the jungle lairs of Borneo pirates, from a Newgate hanging to the torture pits of Madagascar, and from Chinatown's vice dens to slavery in the palace of the female Caligula herself, Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar.
Had he known what lay ahead, Flashman would never have taken up cricket seriously.
"The Flashman Papers do what all great sagas do - winning new admirers along the way but never, ever betraying old ones. It is an immense achievement." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Not so much a march as a full-blooded charge, fortified by the usual lashings of salty sex, meticulously choreographed battle scenes and hilariously spineless acts of self preservation by Flashman." (Sunday Times)
"Not only are the Flashman books extremely funny, but they give meticulous care to authenticity. You can, between the guffaws, learn from them." (Washington Post)
"A first-rate historical novelist." (Kingsley Amis)
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Great story, difficult to hear
- Meg Howell