on 26 January 2009
At the beginning of this book, the plot appeared to be a little bit unbelievable and I wondered whether it was going to be a successful and engaging story. Could Flashman pose as Royalty for a sustained period of time? Would it work?
I can definitely say that it did, this book was highly entertaining and outrageously funny. I love this author's writing style which is superbly original. Flashman reminiscing in his old age of his younger more adventurous years almost makes you feel/believe that he is a real person from history it's a superb literary feat.
As ever, the author's notes at the back of the book summarise the real event to which Flashman refers to in the novel. This gives the reader a snippet of true historical fact to supplement and enhance the story.
I'm certainly glad I have read this book and will continue with this series with high expectations.
on 12 February 2013
Flashman is a cad, without a care for anybody but himself, but at least he is truthful about it. `Royal Flashman' is the second (3rd chronologically) in George MacDonald Fraser's tales of the cowardly hero and the best I have read yet. This time Flashy must travel to Germany where he thinks he is off for a treat with a certain seductress, only to become wrapped up in a conspiracy that could have been ripped from the pages of `The Prisoner of Zenda' (and probably was). `Royal' is a slower paced Flashman novel than previous outings and is based in fewer locations. For this reason I think it may just be the best.
As always `Royal' is told as if Flashman is retelling the tales of his youth via his papers, filtering through Fraser. Whilst other books in the series have Harry running away from one perilous situation to another, this time Flashman has little choice, but to head into trouble. There is a certain charm to Flashman's caddishness and this is apparent more than ever in `Royal'. He admits freely to be a coward, selfish, whoremonger etc. but this upfront nature means that you can't help but forgive him a little. At one point he even berates himself for going a little too far.
With the character of Harry Flashman becoming far more rounded in this book, Fraser is able to concentrate on the adventure itself. The story of swapped identities is a great one, only improved by the fact that Flashman was only heading over to Germany for carnal reasons in the first place. It is Fraser`s eye for historic detail that raises the entire `Flashman' series of book and this is the case again here. The powder keg of a divided Germany is ready for Flashman to light the fuse.
on 26 December 2011
So hot on the heels of Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser pitches our loveable villain straight into another outrageous adventure. Before reading 'Royal Flash', make sure you've read 'Flashman' by the same author. If you loved that, you'll love this...
The second book in the series has the same great narrative of the first offering, and I feel bad in criticising aspects of the book, such as the opening chapter, which starts with an aged Flashy reflecting back, which is rather wordy and unnecessary. That doesn't last long however, and it's just a few pages before the reader is rapidly catapulted into the start of the story proper, with Flashy merrily whoring and viciously insulting his way around the clubs and knocking shops of St James in London. And making terrible ememies in the process. Sets everything up for a royal yarn with all the loveable ingredients of a classic Flashman novel. The book does lack the usual thread of great historical events, such as the charge of the Light Brigade, the Sepoy Rebellion etc., but whislt the historical richness is rather lacking (only German unification is covered here, forsooth), the narrative is as good as ever, with the sub-plots and one liners pure golden royal genius.
Look out for: Flashy stalking deer at Balmoral. It isn't long before the hunter becomes the hunted. Oh and you may be confused as to why he cannot look at a hairbrush again without breaking out in a sweat over a beautiful harradin with a penchant for using it to encourage her mate during coupling sessions. WHACK! Faster Flashy, FASTER! WHACK!
on 7 August 2011
George MacDonald Fraser picks up in "Royal Flash" where he left off in "Flashman". Fraser artfully blends historical figures into his stories along with a fictional character he stole, um, I mean pays homage to, in this delightful series. After covering the years 1839 - 1842 and his service in the first Anglo-Afghan War, "Royal Flash" cover 1842 - 1843 and then 1847 - 1848 in this second installment of "The Flashman Papers".
Fraser inserts Otto von Bismarck as Flashman's major nemesis in this story, and as for Flashman's legendary womanizing, Fraser is kind enough to hook him up with Lola Montez, among others. Fraser also doesn't mind borrowing heavily from Anthony Hope's "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1894) either, though in the Flashman universe it was Anthony Hope that borrowed from Flashman's adventures. At any rate, nothing is out of scope as far as I can tell from being selected for Flashman to have his hand in. There are a host of other historical figures which play minor roles in the novel as well.
In a brief meeting involving Lola Montez, Otto Bismarck takes an immediate dislike to our anti-hero, and from that meeting Bismarck later devises a plot to gain power and get revenge on Flashman all in one go. This plot involves a "Prisoner of Zenda" like plan, though in this case the switch which sees Flashman forced to pretend to be Carl Gustaf, a prince of Denmark. This plot involves the Duchy of Strackenz a fictional place (the only fictional setting for a Flashman novel). Though Strackenz is fictional, Fraser makes it a part of the Schleswig-Holstein Question which was a real situation between Denmark and Germany involving the two duchies.
As with the first book, there are too many references back to "Tom Brown's Schooldays". In one case it felt natural and part of the story, but in the other instances it felt forced and certainly was unnecessary considering this is the second book of the series and Flashman's origin has already been established. It also seems unlikely that Flashman would be so fixated on Tom Brown when one looks at his life since that period.
All things considered I am giving "Royal Flash" 4-stars, as it is almost as good as the first in the series, but at the same time it obviously cannot be as original, and the fictitious setting also takes away from it slightly, as do the unnecessary references to Tom Brown. Nevertheless, it is still very fun to read, and there is even some history to be learned.
on 20 March 2003
If 'Flashy' played for England, we would all be singing, 'There's only one Harry Flashman.' As any reader of this type of novel will know, protagonists of this kind do not come along too often. Having discovered 'The Flashman Papers' a few years ago; our cowardly cad in 'Royal Flash' never fails to impress.
After being lured away from London, the dishonest poltroon is made an offer that even he cannot refuse. The chance to impersonate Royalty and sample the regal life, in return for a tidy sum. But as 'Flashy' discovers, there is no such thing as an easy ride. Finding himself once again embroiled in deceit, intrigue and giddy-up passion - he displays his quick thinking and utter resourcefulness when confronted with the malevolent Statesman Bismarck.
There is certainly something special about Harry Flashman. Is it his talent for self-preservation that we admire, or his natural ability to be the number one love rat? Personally, I think more of us can associate with him than would care to admit. Squirming through life in his usual disastrous way, he somehow lives to shirk another day.
on 22 July 2015
If it were not for the papers of Harry Flashman, a 19th century cavalry officer, we would never have known about Otto von Bismarck's involvement in the first Schleswig Conflict. This second adventure from Flashman's papers describes how he ended up in a multitude of hairy situations, thanks ultimately to his ill-fated encounter with the young Bismarck back home in England, when Flashman had just returned as a hero from the Afghan War.
The cowardly Flashman is certainly a likeable character - more so than, for example, the grim and introverted Captain Alatriste. This is the first of the Flashman series that I read and I enjoyed it easily enough to try a few more. A good story clearly backed up by extensive research.
on 19 November 2000
I'm reading the Flashman books for the first time, and with this, the second volume, I really started to feel hooked. The first installment was good but I felt it stalled a bit in places, but this one really tears along. I also preferred the European setting to the Afghanistan of volume I. It's funny, hugely entertaining, and yes, you will learn a bit of history as you go along. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. (I've already got Volume 3 here, and I've just ordered the next 4).
on 11 May 2016
Royal Flash is the second of the Flashman novels. Written in 1970 by George MacDonald Fraser, Fraser based the book on the plot of The Prisoner of Zenda. Set during the Revolutions of 1848 the story is amusing enough. It is set in the fictional Duchy of Strackenz. This makes it the only Flashman novel to be set in a fictitious location. The story sees Flashman fleeing from a police raid on a brothel he was visiting, Flashman meets Lola Montez and Otto von Bismarck. Some years later a tempting offer sees Flashman in Munich. Here Bismarck has him abducted and blackmailed. His mission: to imitate Prince Carl Gustaf, a fictional member of the Danish royal family. Gustaf is to marry Duchess Irma, the ruler of the fictional Duchy of Strackenz. But according to Bismarck the prince has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. This, of course, would be embarrassing if uncovered by his future wife. This turns out to be a lie. In fact the prince is in prison in Jotunberg Castle. Flashman is a doppelgänger of the Prince. He is trained to take his place until the Prince is cured. Accompanied to Strackenz by Bismarck's accomplices, Rudi von Starnberg, Detchard and de Gautet, Flashy weds the Duchess. Shortly afterwards, while out hunting, Flashman finds out that Bismarck meant to double-cross him and kill him. But he turns the tables on his attacker and tortures the information out of him and kills him instead. He is then captured by Strackenzian nationalists and forced to help them storm the Jotunberg Castle. They are successful, but Flashman and von Starnberg fight in the dungeon, with Flashman escapes death. He then goes back to England, with the help of Montez, who robs him along the way.
In Royal Flash we see old Flashy in all his guises. Coward, scoundrel, lover and cheat. He uses his wits and skill to out of all manner of sticky situations. Well researched and full of detail, the mixture of history, humour and adventure makes for a great read.
on 26 March 2016
I came too these wonderful books from an long round about way , i'd just finished all the Fleming Bond books and had the ' post good book withdrawal ' phase :( . Then i remembered i'd brought the entire 'Flashman papers' about 8 years before, i'd tried reading the first book but couldn't get into it, so i gave up, after locating them , all still in their plastic wrappers, i read the first book again , i think i got to about the same part of the book i'd reached before and was starting to tire of it as the story seamed too slow , but this time i read on.
Wow once through too the end i was hooked and strait too book 2 ,Royal Flash , hmm interesting title ?.This was even better than the first book , so it was this ,'packet of the papers' that i knew i was onto something special , and Flashman himself is like the mirror image of Bond , very 'boys own' stuff lots of sex only he's a total coward. History was never funnier , even when Monty Python had a go at it , plus ask yourself ,what wars do i know about ? well of course theres the most recent stuff at the 21st century and then theres the 2 world wars, and going back before that ? err the Napoleonic wars and after that i had a bit of a blank im afraid , funny once theres no footage t.v isn't interested so we never get too hear about anything before 1900 . Well im glad to tell you the Flashman papers will soon bring you up too speed because its so well researched , most of the caricatures in the stories are real or first hand accounts of eye witness's , and f course our hero is at all the major events , i bit like Forrest Gump only not so sickening .
If your still reading this review and your wondering if you should read it yourself , i would say if you like history and Bond books ,your in for a treat also im not sure if anyone else has mentioned it but theres a film of this book too 'Royal Flash' staring Malcolm Mcdowell Oliver Reed and lots of big stars and also a young David Jason . the film is very close the book , odd that , and shot in the locations the book is set in , wow it does look lavish on screen , but it must have died at the box office , i know i'd never seen it on t.v or heard of it , its a shame coz its very good and funny.
on 21 October 2012
Some 20 years ago, I picked up one of the Flashman books and enjoyed it. When I purchased a kindle and as I perused the titles, I got "The Great Game" I enjoyed the irreverant attitude and found the detail to life and attitudes of the times and background to the campaigns interesting. I have since purchased three more of the books starting with the first Flashman and continuing in chronogical order. When you start a book you want to continue reading it, and when you reach the end, you want to start the next book in the series. Well worth the money.