Book description

Book info

Author
Title
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers Ltd
File size3.6 Mb
GanreHistorical Fiction
Release date 01.02.1999
ISBN9780006511274
Pages count343
Book rating4.17 (2573 votes)
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Perhaps, dear reader, you finished The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn and said “that was pretty good, but what really would have put this book over the top is if they replaced Huck with a borderline sociopath (sporting a full set of whiskers):

img: Flashman

Well, George MacDonald Fraser has answered your prayers with the third entry in the Flashman series. This book covers a lot of territory, with the protagonist zipping all over three continents over the course of just over 350 pages, but the bulk of the story centers around Flashman’s (unwilling) participation in the American slave trade. Flashy gets in trouble with the law back home, in his usual sordid fashion, and ends up being shipped out on a slave ship. The first part of the book deals with how the slavers acquire their human “cargo.” The slave ship, captained by the insane John Charity (accompanied by his equally delusional wife), sets sail for Dahomey, an African nation led by a tyrant named Ghezo. One of my favorite things about the Flashman books is that they insert some fascinating, solid history in between the adventure and the laughs, and this is a prime example. The slaver nation of Dahomey (along with Ghezo) was very real, as was their elite fighting force of Amazons, called “Our Mothers” by the Damoney tribesmen:

img: Dahomey Amazons

I thought this part of the story was really interesting, as I knew very little about this particular chunk of history (in the U.S., we learn a great deal about slavery within our borders, but the nuts and bolts of how the demand was supplied are covered in much less detail). Chaos ensues, as you might expect, and eventually Flashman is off to the good ol’ USA for the first time in his illustrious career. There he manages to get himself into all sorts of bizarre situations involving a brothel, a meeting with Abraham Lincoln, a trip up the Mississippi working for the Underground Railroad (like a demented Huck Finn), a brief career as a plantation manager, and even a wild incident that he claims was the inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin.

If you’ve read any of the previous installations in this series, you know political correctness is pretty much out the window (which I’d argue fits with the period, but FYI). This book is no exception. But I thought this was an absolutely ripping good adventure story from start to finish, sprinkled with Fraser’s usual comic genius. The plot moves Flashman all over the place pretty quickly, and the story can feel a little schizophrenic at times which had me toying with the idea of knocking off half a star. But at the end of the day, this was a page turner I simply couldn’t put down. The first Flashman book probably remains my personal favorite, but this was a close second. 5 stars, highly recommended!

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