on 7 June 2003
One of the best of the series, Flashman and the Dragon combines the usual sublime writing with a particularly fascinating, and not too-well known, military campaign. If you want to learn something new about Victorian history without realising you are making the effort there is no better way.
Highly recommended, and if you liked any of the other Flashman's you will be safe buying this book
on 7 July 2014
Probably the best of the Flashman's, after Flashman in the Great Game. Wonderfully entertaining and has a bit of everything. My only cavill is that near the end of the book, which was concentrating on the treachery and bad faith of the Chinese, I suddenly asked myself why the bloody British were in China at all, and why they had the right to force the Chinese into accepting a trade treaty they didn't want? Call me picky, but how could the British have the high moral ground when they sent an army to make the Chinese government allow them to sell DRUGS in China? I mean, really? Good read but My God the British Empire has a lot of crimes to answer for.
on 4 March 2016
As usual with MacDonald Fraser's stories, and entertaining romp leads to one learning a lot of fascinating history. I'd never heard of the Taiping rebellion, and certainly would not have expected it to have led to the deaths of more people than the First World War!
on 14 December 2011
The more I read the Flashman series the more impressed I get and the more I wonder at the fact that George MacDonald Fraser didn't get a knighthood and an honorary degree for services to the understanding of English History during the Victorian Era. The man's a genius!
"Flashman and the Dragon" is Flashman's China adventure covering the Taiping Rebellion (the greatest loss of life in any civil war and - I believe - second only to the Second World War) and the Second China (or Opium) War. The tale is hilarious at times but it is also quite enlightening about a moment in history I doubt many of us are aware of.
The British Empire was created by men who really did have stiff upper lips and ramrod straight backs and we see their self-confidence and courage matched against a different, just as arrogant, culture. In a tale where the British and French are pulled (almost unwillingly) into a war in order to ensure Chinese adherence to existing trade agreements and where the Chinese actually do see themselves as the centre of the world where everyone (except themselves) is a barbarian only fit to be treated as a slave, casual heroism abounds.
Through the maelstrom sails Flashman, bravely trying to avoid any situation in which he might put his life at risk and exploiting any misunderstanding that places him in a heroic light. We see him at his worst - and at his best... and we learn so much about this far-off time and place that still has resonance today.
The whole book asks serious questions about what constitutes civilised behaviour and about the crimes committed by the powerful... and what might be a suitable means of punishment for those crimes. China still looks back at the form of punishment meted out.
... and the ending! How lovely - only Flashman!
on 25 October 2000
Yes, once again Flashy finds himself in the thick of things - a Chinese Civil War! GMF combines well-researched historical fact - stranger than a lot of fiction - with the tale of the ever-reluctant Colonel Flashman, who beds and connives his way through the Imperial and rebel courts and battlefields of China in 1860. From the very first sentence, when Flashman warns the reader that the time to beware of a pretty woman is not when you're flush, but broke - because what is she after, then? - you just know he is ging to be cajoled/ordered/kidnapped into another daring adventure... and you're not disappointed. Buy this book - and the whole series, if you can!
on 21 March 2007
No sense in wasting any of your time: this is yet another great book in the incomparable Flashman-series.
Flashman, with his new knighthood and V.C., is idling away the time in Hong Kong before sailing for home, and damned if he doesn't get caught up with a woman! Before he (or you) are fully aware he's upriver smuggling guns, being caught by pirates and Taiping rebels, commandereed by Lord Elgin to accompany him to Peking, captured by the Imperial army, and sequestered by the Imperial Concubine as private barbarian pet... All in a day's work for Flashy ;-)
Having re-read the reviews I wrote on all previous Flashman-novels I should add (as I omitted perhaps in those) that, apart from the countless hilarious scenes, there are times when Flashman is dead serious (I'm thinking for instance of the final chapter where he discusses the destruction of the Summer Palace) and all in all this makes for a very entertaining read.
An informative read as well, because MacDonald Fraser not only has the historical facts correct, but knows how to make you want to know more about the particular place and time of Flashman's adventures, and that in itself is surely a good thing.
The only thing I regret is that there's now only one Flashman-novel left for me to read, because they must all surely rank amongst the finest historical novels one could wish for.
on 9 September 2015
Flash Harry goes on another memorable adventure - this time in China!
For fans of historical fiction (particularly British military history), this series is pure gold. Through the eyes of the magnificent Flashman, GMF effortlessly guides us through 1860 China: from the devastating Taiping Rebellion to the Second Opium War and onto the burning of the Summer Palace, GMF paints a colourful and accurate picture of a fascinating period in Chinese history.
Of course, none of it would be the same without the unbeatable Harry Flashman: coward; cad; bully; toady - you can't help but love this character as he lands himself in some horrific messes, then shamelessly and immorally worms his way out, usually at the expense of others! This series is one of a very select few that has me howling with laughter throughout.
If you appreciate historical fiction, and want to learn something (while laughing) then this series is for you. I cannot recommend this series more highly.
on 4 September 2009
I found this story interesting because I learnt quite a lot about the Chinese history. An era I had never known much about.
Toby Stephens is a remarkable reader and so amusing with the female voices, very clever indeed.
Also his ability to alter voice tones and dialects is amazing.
The author is one whose books I have never read and will seek them out in the local library.A naughty hero if ever there was one!
For a long time people had expounded the brilliance of the flashman and the books are damn fine to read, i don't think it needs me or anyone else to write a review saying about the high quality of the writing and characters... but for me the real brilliance comes to the fore when the book is read by the likes of Rupert Penry-Jones or Toby Stephens.
I love to listen to the Flashman books on audio format when im on holiday, the only issue i have is to make sure i dont start talking like a Victorian cad whilst going to the bar to get a drink.
If you love the books and have not tried the audio format yet do so, i promise you its a whole new way to experience the world of Flashman, and if you are new to the Man...go on..you will love him.
on 29 June 2005
Only one country to date can say that they have placed and held military troops within the forbidden city, and that is the British.
This is probably the best book in the Flashman series, that provides all the winning attributes of Flashman and his adventures.
The history provided in this volume (packet) was new to me, and the lengths that the British went to, to prove their military might during the 19th century is clearly displayed.
There was a point in Chinese history where their amazing invention for war machines, finally got superceeded by the rest of the world. Flashman moves through the Opium filled Asian country to his final destination.
For anybody that has looked into the female emperors of China, this book provides a funny view into the life of these people.
Definate read for anybody that enjoys good humour.