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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurd and utterly unlike GMF's other novels.
I purchased this book a few weeks ago and was lucky enough to attend a book signing and get George Macdonald Fraser (yes, the great chap himself) to autograph my copy. Whilst waiting, I read most of the book (well, it was a long wait!). I was thinking at the time that most of his usual readers were not going to like this, and reading the two other reviews posted here on...
Published on 21 Oct. 2007 by marzipanthecat

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read It While It's Still Funny!!
As noted in other reviews, this books is written in the same vein as "The Pyrates", a book I didn't much like. But this novel is hilarious! It had me laughing on every page. However, as has also been noted, most of the humour is topical. Consequently, this book will probably have the shortest shelf life of all GMF's novels. So if you are going to read it, and I...
Published on 6 Nov. 2007 by William D. Freeman


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurd and utterly unlike GMF's other novels., 21 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Reavers (Hardcover)
I purchased this book a few weeks ago and was lucky enough to attend a book signing and get George Macdonald Fraser (yes, the great chap himself) to autograph my copy. Whilst waiting, I read most of the book (well, it was a long wait!). I was thinking at the time that most of his usual readers were not going to like this, and reading the two other reviews posted here on Amazon, it seems I was right.

However, I enjoyed it mightily.

I have read almost all his previous novels, and I am a huge fan of the Flashman series. And this is why I thought most people wouldn't like this one - it isn't historically accurate at all. It's more in the style of Robert Rankin. It is a sixteenth century novel full of twenty-first century references (and very modern and political ones at that - I don't think a lot of them will be understood ten years from now). But I did find it very amusing, and very clever. It does sit very much at odds with his other works, though.

Personally, I'd tell everyone to give it a read. It is funny and witty and enjoyable. Just don't go thinking it will be anything like his other books! Once you get past that way of thinking it does help.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Song of a Great Author..., 4 Jan. 2008
By 
John McKinna (Key Largo, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Reavers (Hardcover)
Well, he's gone now, as of a day or two ago. George MacDonald Fraser, that is. Godspeed to him, he entertained us with his stellar writing and imagination through McAuslan, Flashy, and a host of other fictitious and semi-fictitious characters in his many memorable novels, and moved us and made us think in his various memoirs/opinion pieces such as the incomparable QUARTERED SAFE OUT HERE and the gleefully non-P.C. LIGHT'S ON AT SIGNPOST. This last book, THE REAVERS, revisits his CANDLEMASS ROAD territory, with a healthy dose of THE PYRATES-style out-of-time humor and crazed comic style. Obviously he wrote this for the sheer joy of it, taking one last romp through the loves and influences that had shaped his writer's life. I'm taking it as a last hail-fellow-well-met from one of the great English storytellers of the 20th century, and glad he had time to favor us with one more before he made his exit. Great writer, and a life well lived. I admired the guy, and what a legacy he leaves for the ages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Farcical Farewell, 18 Sept. 2008
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Reavers (Paperback)
Like most others who will pick up this final book from Fraser, I am a longtime devotee of his Flashman series. And the sheer pleasure of reading that series has driven me to seek out and read most of his other fiction and non-fiction over the years (including this book's ancestor, The Pyrates). Of these twenty or so books, this one is clearly the silliest of the lot, and anyone picking it up should be ready for a pretty heavy dose of wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

The book is essentially a farcical rewriting of his earlier novel, The Candlemass Road, complete with many of the same characters and situations. The story is set in the same 16th-century Scottish/English borderlands that Fraser wrote a history of under the title The Steel Bonnets: Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers. It concerns a Spanish plot to kidnap King James and replace him with an impostor (and if that sounds familiar, it's because Fraser used the device in Royal Flash). Seeking to foil this plot are an Elizabethan secret agent, a Scottish highwayman, a stunning English noblewoman, and her saucy sidekick.

If this sounds like a delightful historical thriller, well, be warned that Fraser wrote this one with his tongue even more firmly planted in cheek than usual. It brims with modern pop culture references, anachronisms, authorial asides, and over-the-top renderings of thick Scots dialect. None of these bothered me, but plenty of other readers seemed to find some or all of these elements annoying. However, in the preface, Fraser is pretty clear that the book was primarily written to amuse himself, so I'm willing to go along with the ride. Especially since it's the last we're likely to get from such a great storyteller. (Unless, that is, a literary executor manages to uncover one last packet of Flashman adventures....)

Ultimately, a pretty minor and self-derivative work from a very entertaining writer. If approached in the right frame of mind, it should provide a few hours of very light entertainment, and possibly spur the reader to check out some of the true history of the setting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Reavers, 28 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Reavers (Hardcover)
This is the first (and to date only) G MacDonald Fraser novel I have read. I can only liken it to watching a movie on DVD with the directors commentry on, the narration being purposefully directed to 'you dear reader', it's as much insight to the fun the writer is having telling the absurd tale as it is entertainment for the reader. It starts well, had me baffled in the middle, and cheering for the several heros/anti-heros/semi-heros and heroines at the end.
I read this in Dec 07, thinking what else has he written and what will he come up with next? Sadly in Jan 08 I learnt that GMF passed away with the arrival of the new year...so we're just left with the back catalogue. I think I'll start with the Pyrates...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read It While It's Still Funny!!, 6 Nov. 2007
By 
William D. Freeman "wdavidfreeman" (Southern California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Reavers (Hardcover)
As noted in other reviews, this books is written in the same vein as "The Pyrates", a book I didn't much like. But this novel is hilarious! It had me laughing on every page. However, as has also been noted, most of the humour is topical. Consequently, this book will probably have the shortest shelf life of all GMF's novels. So if you are going to read it, and I recommend you do, do so soon.

Ironically, in the introduction GMF justifies this re-write of "The Candlemass Road" on the grounds that that book has faded into the past. In fact Candlemass could still be read and enjoyed in a hundred years when the jokes in "The Reavers" have become as obscure as those in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost."

RIP GMF 2 January 2008
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Innocent, silly fun, 6 Aug. 2008
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Reavers (Paperback)
'The Reavers' is indeed unlike any other book by George MacDonald Fraser. It is, for starters, not at all as historically accurate as the Flashman-series is, and then the humour is... well, downright silly! This is not to say I didn't enjoy reading it, and GMF freely admits in his introduction that he wrote 'The Reavers' with no other end in mind than amusing himself (and he did, it shows) but quite frankly: whereas I could go on (re-)reading the Flashman-novels, I wouldn't be able to do so with 'The Reavers'.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected, 9 Oct. 2007
By 
This review is from: The Reavers (Hardcover)
Having read all that G.M.F has put to paper, I have to say that this book didn't quite fulfil my expectations. It's maybe just me, but the constant references to 20th and 21st century matters in a 16th century setting played havoc with my efforts to delve into the tale, among a few other things. Unquestionably, this is a matter of personal taste, so if you're a fan of G.M.F go ahead and buy this book. If nothing else, it'll serve to complete your collection of G.M.F books, as it did for me. Otherwise go for the "Candlemass Road" by the same author, which is basically the same story, but in a much more impressive way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ludicrously funny final work of a great comic writer., 11 May 2011
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Reavers (Paperback)
The late George MacDonald Fraser's final novel is nonsense from its' cliche beginning - "It was a dark and stormy night in Elizabethan England" to its' daft ending. That isn't a criticism.

GMF himself wrote in the author's preface, "This book is nonsense. It's meant to be."

Completely over the top, a parody of a swashbuckling romance, taking the mick out of everything ancient and modern. Some people will like the style of humour, others will hate it. I found it funny enough, and the anachronisms obviously deliberate enough, that I could forgive things which usually have me knocking stars off right left and centre - such as a reference to a "Cumbrian" estate in the 16th century.

(The county of Cumbria was not created by Peter Walker until the 1970s, before that the area on the Anglo-Scottish border where the novel is set was part of the historic county of Cumberland.)

The heroine, Lady Godiva Dacre, described as "the ultimate Elizabethan knock-out" has been commanded by Good Queen Bess to leave her court, apparently because the Queen, jealous of her naturally red hair, did not want competition in the redhead department. (We're told the regal head now required industrial quantities of henna to retain its' colour.)

So Lady G has retired to her estate near the Scottish border, accompanied by her friend Kylie (yes, really) who is described as "petite, blonde and chocolate-box pretty, with those gorgeous contours common amongst saucy milkmaids and well described by the modern expression 'stacked'."

Hopefully those two quotes should give you an idea of the style of the humour. It continues in a similar preposterously anachronistic vein throughout the book as our heroines meet a cast of equally improbable and absurd characters and have a string of unlikely and absurdly anachronistic adventures.

It's more of a parody than a novel, a pastiche of a historical romance: not everyone will like it but I did, and suspect most of those who are not ashamed to admit to a silly sense of humour will likewise enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 7 July 2013
This review is from: The Reavers (Paperback)
This was George MacDonald Fraser's last novel published in 2007. It's a glorious load of nonsense set in the late Elizabethan era with the action taking place around the Anglo/Scottish borders, particularly the crime ridden sin city that is Carlisle. We are in the 1590's and the Spanish, having made a complete botch of the Armada, are planning, via a strategically placed network of conspirators, to substitute the real King James VI of Scotland with a lookalike carefully chosen and schooled for the part. When he then inherits the English throne as King James I he will be sympathetic to the Catholic cause and Philip II of Spain will have achieved his ends with hardly a shot fired. So much for the historical background.

This motley crew of subversives who amazingly include an Amazonian pygmy, have of course reckoned without the heroes of the piece namely Archie Noble and Gilderoy (Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks) plus their leading ladies Godiva and Kylie (pick your own Hollywood legends).
Mayhem ensues as you can imagine and I didn't stop smiling from beginning to end.
I'm sure that GMF had a wonderful time writing this little gem and I had a great time reading it. He has gathered all his wit, humour, writing skills and experience and dumped them wholesale between the front and rear covers of this book.
Please read and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good old-fashioned romp!, 2 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Reavers (Paperback)
Don't expect any authenticity historically here - it's slapstick and silliness all the way and I love it! I've read this twice and enjoyed it thoroughly both times. For an historically correct version 'The Candlemass Road' is virtually the same story told seriously and is also worth reading.
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The Reavers
The Reavers by George MacDonald Fraser (Paperback - 2 Jun. 2008)
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