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4.8 out of 5 stars51
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 February 2007
The standard of the entire Flashman-series is incredibly high, but this must surely be one of the best installments. As usual Flashman is - however unwillingly - in the thick of legendary military actions, and doesn't shrink from helping us to his opinion of well-known historical figures such as Raglan ('the old fool'), Cardigan ('lecherous villain') and a score of others.

This is superb entertainment for anyone even remotely interested in history, and if you fail to appreciate the politically (very) incorrect humour well damn your eyes! ;-)
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on 16 August 2007
I was looking at the Flashman books on my shelf and trying to decide which one was my favourite. Whilst Redskins and the Great Game are very enjoyable, the Charge is probably my favourite.

Macdonald Fraser was on top form with this novel; not only do we have the usual mix of historical and fictional events, but there are great heros, heroines and villains. The story ranges from the pool halls of London to Asia via Crimea! Flashman also plays a more active role in events (in some of the latter books he is more of a passive spectator of what's happening).

If you have come across the Flashman series for the first time, then this is fantastic book.
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on 7 June 2008
Its beginning to look like the superbly structured Flash for Freedom!, this book's immediate predecessor, was the high point of the series. Flashman gets three-and-a-half stars just for being Flashman, of course, but this tale starts at a leisurely pace before bursting into action at Balaclava, then tailing off again. Those who have read the series so far will be familiar with our anti-hero's historic tourism, romping through bit-parts in the major events of the nineteenth century. This time it is the Charge of the Light Brigade. It has to be said GMF writes battle and action scenes brilliantly, though in this case a detailed knowledge of the Crimean campaign, characters, and controversies (or at least access to Wikipedia) would be helpful. The Charge is a hard act to follow and for the rest of the book, Flashman more-or-less meanders eastwards, getting into various scrapes. There are a few exciting set pieces, of course, and some interesting insights into the brutality of Imperial Russia, and its expansionist ambitions. GMF's meticulous research shines a revealing light on more recent events. The ending, as Flashman returns `home' to India is satisfying, too.
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on 19 February 2003
I confess to having read all of the Flashman books. They are all brilliant, some slightly more so than others. This (in my opinion) is one of his best tales. The feeling that you are with Flashy all the way is sometimes palpable, especially during the build up to the Charge of the Light Brigade. I felt as if I was there, hearing the creak of saddles and the jingle of harnesses, in the moments before the charge. The writing is at times very fine indeed: undoubtedly people will be reading these books in a 100 years time. They are classics and they are hilariously funny.
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on 21 October 2006
I love the George MacDonald Fraser Flashman series and this is my favourite one - the Great Game being second. The historical accuracy is spot on as usual and the books always keep me laughing and thoroughly amused all the way through! Not going to bother going into all the detail, plots etc.. because the simple message is that you need to buy a Flashman book and from one keen reader to another I promise you you will not regret it. Read it now!
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on 14 March 2006
Flashman is somehow likeable despite being a complete cad and coward. To understand this is to somehow understand why these books are so incredibly enjoying and enthralling as we watch him stumble blindly from one real-life military disaster to another. This episode though is head and shoulders abover the rest for sheer vigour as he is sent spiralling across Russia from the mouth of the valley of death.
I thoroughly recommend this book to all and sundry.
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A hugely enjoyable read as we follow our 'hero' to the Crimea and Central Asia where he gets embroiled in all sorts of capers. Intent on one course of action, Flashy, as usual, ends up doing quite another and, as usual, comes up 'smelling of roses'
In places this is the best of the 'Flashman' novels I have read (I've currently read the first four). The first third of the book are excellent, detailing as it does Flashman's Crimean War memoirs, but the later sections detailing his
imprisonment in a Russian house, and later, his exploits as a member of a Central Asian tribe fighting Russian encroachment is somewhat less inspired.
The story briefly starts with our 'hero' preparing for war by trying to hide away in the Board of Ordance, but unfortunately for him he is made the guardian of a German Prince, Prince William of Celle, who is studying the art of soldiering, so off to the Crimea he must go.
Once in the Crimea, Flashy, who is employed as a 'galloper' (messenger) is witness to some of the great battles of British military history. He gets caught up in the Battle of the Alma, where unfortunately his charge, the hapless and randy William is killed. But what happens later firmly plants Flashy as one of the great warriors of the British Army; ever !
Whilst trying desperately to avoid any hint of danger, Flashy inadvertently finds himself, not only present at the Battle of Balaclava, but becoming an integral part of it. He becomes a member of the 'Thin Red Line', one of General Scarlett's Heavy Brigade, charging uphill into the Russian cavalry and later, most famously, as one of 'the six hundred' who charge the Russian guns at the North Valley, better known as the 'Valley of Death' in what passed into legend as, 'the Charge of the Light Brigade'.
This passage of events surpasses anything Flashy (or us) has encountered before in terms of action, drama and humour. MacDonald Fraser's attention to historical fact makes what happens to Flashy fit seamlessly into the true historical version of events. His role in the actual conveying of the fateful message from Lord Raglan to Lord Lucan (Flashy actually had an amendment to Lew Nolan's famous message), his giving Lord George Paget one of his cheroots for the Charge, as well as his unwilling stampede up the valley that momentarily saw him overtake Lord Cardigan in the Charge, all have the ring of truth about them.
As well as being immensely gripping and realistic (MacDonald Fraser's description of the carnage wrought on the Russian cavalry by Sir Colin Campbell's 93rd Highland Regiment is truly impressive) this section of the book is very funny (if war and battles can be funny). The way that Flashy is determined to avoid danger and the way that danger seeks him out is highly entertaining, but nothing can beat the running gag of Flashy's wind that plagues him at Balaclava and culminates in him letting rip as he thunders up the 'Valley of Death, "I dug in my heels, yelling nonsense and brandishing my sabre, shot into the smoke with one final rip from my bowels and a prayer...". Brilliant, you can almost smell the fear !
Taken prisoner following the Charge, the novel slows down in pace and excitement. Flashman is taken to a remote country house where he is a 'guest'of one Count Pencherjevsky, a Zaporozhiyan Cossack. Also being held is his old school 'mate', Scud East, and their contrast in attitudes to their imprisonment and their duty to escape are highly amusing. Flashman, as usual, manages to have some romantic diversions whilst being held prisoner and one encounter with 'Aunt Sara' in a Russian steam-bath with "..the damned serfs blotting everything out with steam again.." is how I want to go when my time comes.
Escape, capture and transportation in chains to the shores of the Aral Sea by the villainous Count Ignatieff follow for Flashy. The Count is planning an invasion of British India and thinks Flashy will be of use due to his previous experience of Afghanistan and all (see 'Flashman'). However another escape follows and Flashy finds himself unwittingly caught up in the struggles of a Khokandian leader called Yakub Beg, in what is now modern day Kazakhstan, to stop the Russians from conquering his country. I thoroughly recommend this book if you are looking for a highly entertaining and amusing read, as well as a lesson in the 'hidden history' of the mid-19th Century. Not as consistently entertaining as 'Flashman', 'Flashman at the Charge' nevertheless is another worthy installment of the adventures of the British army's most famous poltroon.
It contains all the usual ingredients of famous people (Flashy gets to meet amongst others, Prince Albert, Lord Palmerston, Lord Raglan, Lord Cardigan and William Howard Russell, as well as glimpsing Gladstone and even Tsar Nicholas I), sex (apart from squiring Elspeth our hero gets to mount two Russian ladies and a Chinese war-lords daughter) and classic quotes, like this one, as Flashy describes the much-maligned British Commander-in-Chief, Lord Raglan, "Oh, he was brave and determined and ready to take on all the odds - the worst kind of general imaginable. Give me a clever coward everytime".
However it is the character of Flashman himself who, predictably, dominates the book as this fraudulent, lecherous, ingratiating, quivering mass of wind and deceit again takes centre stage to regale us with his mis-adventures, all told with the brutal honesty of one who knows his and everyone elses limitations, even if no-one else does. Maybe that's why Flashman is so compelling. It is easy to despise him but look a little deeper, don't you recognise some of the traits ? You should do !
Foward all you followers of Colonel Flashman (he gets promoted don't you know), the fifth packet of the Flashman Papers awaits !
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on 1 November 2013
I haven't actually read this particular book since I'm still finishing the preceding one. This will be the sixth in the series. They are very well written by a competent author who obviously spends a great deal of time researching historical facts to provide the background for his hero. How he survives the seemingly impossible situations he finds himself in, and then emerges covered in glory is quite astonishing. He is an inspration for all who are cowards.

I would recommend these books by George McDonald Fraser to anyone who enjoys boys' adventure stories for men- they are great.
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on 9 September 2001
A hugely enjoyable read as we follow our 'hero' to the Crimea and Central Asia where he gets embroiled in all sorts of capers. Intent on one course of action, Flashy, as usual, ends up doing quite another and, as usual, comes up 'smelling of roses'
In places this is the best of the 'Flashman' novels I have read (I've currently read the first four). The first third of the book are excellent, detailing as it does Flashman's Crimean War memoirs, but the later sections detailing his
imprisonment in a Russian house, and later, his exploits as a member of a Central Asian tribe fighting Russian encroachment is somewhat less inspired.
I thoroughly recommend this book if you are looking for a highly entertaining and amusing read, as well as a lesson in the 'hidden history' of the mid-19th Century. Not as consistently entertaining as 'Flashman', 'Flashman at the Charge' nevertheless is another worthy installment of the adventures of the British army's most famous poltroon.
It contains all the usual ingredients of famous people (Flashy gets to meet amongst others, Prince Albert, Lord Palmerston, Lord Raglan, Lord Cardigan and William Howard Russell, as well as glimpsing Gladstone and even Tsar Nicholas I), sex (apart from squiring Elspeth our hero gets to mount two Russian ladies and a Chinese war-lords daughter) and classic quotes, like this one, as Flashy describes the much-maligned British Commander-in-Chief, Lord Raglan, "Oh, he was brave and determined and ready to take on all the odds - the worst kind of general imaginable. Give me a clever coward everytime".
However it is the character of Flashman himself who, predictably, dominates the book as this fraudulent, lecherous, ingratiating, quivering mass of wind and deceit again takes centre stage to regale us with his mis-adventures, all told with the brutal honesty of one who knows his and everyone elses limitations, even if no-one else does. Maybe that's why Flashman is so compelling. It is easy to despise him but look a little deeper, don't you recognise some of the traits ? You should do !
Foward all you followers of Colonel Flashman (he gets promoted don't you know), the fifth packet of the Flashman Papers awaits.
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on 25 March 2008
Im currently on my 7th Flashman book but anytime i think of my favourite(As almost impossible a question that may be) i inevitable come back to this episode. Its almost perfection in bringing together the the ingredients that make the flashman books so brilliant which would be in my humble opinion, historical realism, empathy for the main character(come on who says they wouldnt do the same thing), action and both excellent characters and character dialogue. For a prime example of the Brilliance that is Flashman, see here and Damn your eyes if you think otherwise!
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