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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2015
The perfect companion for all historical fiction enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Our intrepid hero, Harry Flashman, is back for volume two of the Flashman Papers, a narrative of the life and times of one of the most ne'er-do-well wastrels to ever grace the pages of a published autobiography.
This instalment picks up where the first volume left off; Harry returns from his Afghan adventures, quite the conquering hero and the toast of London. Soon, however, the bloom is off the rose and further adventures await, this time among the nobility of the continent. Soon, Flash matches wits with one of the greatest statesmen of the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck, and changes the course of European history as a result.

As in the original Flashman novel, our Harry is revealed as the premier coward and opportunist of his era; faults which he quite willingly admits and even boasts of. This passage, relating to his beautiful, vacuous wife Elspeth gives a glimpse into the Flashman psyche:

"At that moment I was overcome again with that yearning affection for her that I sometimes felt, in spite of her infidelities; I can't explain it, beyond saying that she must have had some magical quality, something to do with the childlike thoughtful look she wore, and the pure, helpless stupidity in her eyes. It is very difficult not to like a lovely idiot."

Uproariously funny and entertaining, this sequel is every bit the equal of the original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
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In the second instalment of the wonderful Flashman saga, our 'Arry gets to cut a fine caper with the young Bismarck, suave Kraut blade Rudi von Starnberg, and seductive adventuress Lola Montez.

All the ingredients are in place: politics and history, the rough and tumble of a violently physical life, and rough and tumble of another more saucy kind.

Fraser's easy facility as a writer charms and beguiles, as he slots our lovable cad and poltroon into the exciting and colourful events of mid C19th Europe, hinging on that ol' chestnut 'the Schleswig Holstein question'.

Formulaic as they are, the Flashman novels - the allegedly barely edited renderings of the various packets of the 'Flashman papers' (what a great conceit, almost as good as bringing an incidental character from another authors book centre stage as your own anti-hero!) - are just sublime.

This early adventure sees Harry sitting in for royalty and, predictably, loving it, getting in and out of all kinds of jams more often and with greater adroitness than the chief flavour developer of Chivers Fruit Conserves.

This was my first taste of Flashman, and I was immediately hooked, such that I now not only own and have read them all, but have re-read many, and often gift them. Pure unadulterated pleasure in book form.
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on 11 February 2012
After getting the first volume Flashman (The Flashman Papers) on audio, I am now completely hooked on the flamboyantly detailed escapades of the biggest (fictional) English cad who ever 'lived'. I read Tom Brown's School days as a boy, and remember the hideous brute Harry Flashman, expelled from Rugby School for drunkenness, and who memorably toasted Tom over an open fire.
Here we see Flashman as anti-hero, a lascivious, lecherous and utterly unscrupulous rogue, with absolutely no redeeming features, but who seems to have a knack for getting involved in key Nineteenth Century events - invariably coming up smelling of roses.
This audio is compelling from the outset, and it is surely Flashy's cowardly charisma and weaselly demeanour that strangely, endear this bastion of amorality to us.
Penry-Jones is a first-class narrator, and effortlessly brings to life the various European ne'er do wells who populate Fraser's writing. Overall this is an excellent and well-packaged set, and I will certainly be working my way through the collection if they are all as good as the first two.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2014
Flash once again embarks on an adventure he doesn't plan, comes to situations we could never predict, acts the scoundrel and coward! And yet, always managing to keep his wits, and somehow finding time to show off his 'Clark Gable' allure (the ladies can't resist his whiskers!)
Definitely a good read! As is Flashman and so far... Flash for Freedom!
Also posted in good time :)
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