I am a big fan of George MacDonald Fraser's `Flashman' novels; they are crude, rude, but good to know. The secret to the Flashman books is that they are historically accurate and they are funny. `The Blooding of Jack Absolute' has a passing resemblance to the `Flashman' books, both are about boorish military types you like to chase women, and both are based on characters taken from other fiction. However, whilst Old Flashy plays for laughs, Absolute plays it's straight and for this reason is just not as good.
`Blooding' is the second book in the Absolute series and follows Jack from childhood until his first major conflict in Canada. The book has two distinct sections; London as an older school boy and Canada as a fighter. Both of them work in some ways, but fail in others. C. C. Humphreys' description of London itself is evocative and seems to be well researched. I enjoyed some of the japes that Absolute got himself into, but the earnest nature of the character made him a little charmless, so you don't feel too sorry for him. The Canadian part of the book starts off promisingly with a good battle, but then descends into a boy's own style adventure of survival and aboriginals.
I found some of the naivety of the action a little off putting; it needed to be a little more cynical and dark to feel truthful. At times it was a little condescending and did not feel like anything historically accurate. Humphreys' book swerves from self-discovery to action and back again - all the elements are present for a rollicking adventure, it is just a shame that they are slightly undermined by some twee sections. `The Blooding of Jack Absolute' is a decent read, but no match for Fraser.