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3.2 out of 5 stars
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3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 21 October 2007
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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on 4 January 2008
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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on 9 October 2007
I was on tenterhooks waiting for this to arrive and I started reading straightaway....100 pages later and it's on the shelf, never to be touched again ! Filled with the silliness that marked the great GMF's screenplays this one makes 'The Pyrates' seem sober and sensible. It's clever, as you'd expect, but fun ? Not for me I'm afraid, and I love everyhing this great popular writer has produced (except for the Pyrates, which I merely 'liked'). Got an extra star because the author obviously enjoyed writing it and he deserves to be happy !
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on 6 November 2007
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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on 9 October 2007
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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I hate to speak ill of the dead, but despite the very sad recent passing of GMF I have to report that The Reavers is a woeful book.

Its intended as a deliberately anachronistic and utterly irreverant and silly romp (I'm avoiding the prefix of 'period' to romp because that suggests the sort of historical veracity which is entirely absent here), and not a satirical comedy in the Flashman mould. Whilst it is undoubtedly silly however, to the point where you actually crave even a passing aquaintance with normality, it is very definitely not funny.

Chock full of leaden gags, attempts at humour that might just have worked visually in a second rate Mel Brooks movie (the whole book feels like a rerun of Brook's woeful early 90's Robin Hood parody) but fall flat on the printed page and satire that feels decades out of date (the whole book is a spoof of the sort of hollwood historical epics that haven't been made since the 60's), where it should be light, breezy fun the Reavers is a slog that struggles to raise a chortle. Its competently written as you would expect from GMF but it fails in its central purpose which is to make the reader laugh. As such it can only be viewed as a failure.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 September 2008
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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on 1 July 2008
Let me begin by saying that, like many other reviewers, I have read and very much enjoyed GMF's Flashman books. I've not read all of them, but enjoyed all the ones I've read. Then there's this book. It looks pretty. I like the cover artwork, which is similar to the Flashman series. But O! 'ow different 'tis inside... Again, like others have remarked it is full of anachronisms and allusions to popular culture. I could handle that. After all, it doesn't pretend to be historically accurate. The thing that spoils this book for me is the heavily accented dialogue of its eccentric characters. You have to read so slowly to work out what it means. One character -- a dashing highwayman -- sounds like a cross between The Queen and a Geordie. (I never did quite work out why.) Then there's the humour. A satellite dish or an internal combustion engine, for example, in the sixteenth century might be funny the first time it intrudes on the story, or the second, or the third, but take my word for it that after not very long it just becomes irksome, silly and pointless. I managed two chapters. I think this book is aimed at diehard GMF fans who will buy this book just to complete their collection. I can't imagine anybody else would enjoy it. A less scrupulous person might put some heavy books on it to flatten the pages down so they could try to sell it on as new... To conclude, reading it was a chore. Life's too short.
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on 6 August 2008
'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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on 6 August 2008
Firstly, I have to make the point that I have generally loved the work of this great man. The Flashman books are fantastic, and even the poorer installments of histories best anti hero are well worth a read due to their humour and above all, their historical accuracy.

I am sorry to say that I would rate a trip to the dentist as being less painful as reading 'The Reavers'.

I dont say this lightly, and I know that the previous reviewer enjoyed the book, but it wasnt for me at all.
This book was set in Elizabethan times, but frankly it could have been set during the time The Martians landed outside 10 Downing Street, because its about as hisorically accurate. I cringed throughout and in the end had to give up.

I am so sorry this was his last book, because he cant improve on this poor effort. I only seem to comment on books I have enjoyed, but in this case my huge disappointment spurred me on.

Keep away from this book, read all about Flashman instead, this is how i want to remember George MacDonald Fraser, and not for this book.
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