Sunday, August 24, 2014

Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser

Royal Flash
by George MacDonald Fraser
1 star - sometimes you have to bail early
ALR Blue

Yesterday, while at the library, I decided to have a sit down in the stacks and see what the bottom shelves had to offer. It was there I stumbled across the Flashman series. Well, I was quite excited as they promised to offer several books of reading pleasure under the guise of the memoirs of an English gentleman known as Henry Flashman. A person who invariably found himself caught up in great moments in history around the world. 

Judging by the original date due insert (still intact), I also observed that the book had enjoyed frequent circulation from the time it arrived in the early seventies, up until the mid-nineties (when I suppose its alphabetical banishment to the bottom shelf might have caused it to be overlooked by many).

Henry Flashman is "England's Number 1 scoundrel, bully, lier, and womanizer.... Prussia's greatest statesman and Europe's most active lady of the bedchamber are plotting a royal marriage that will change the destiny of a continent. Flashman is their luckless pawn. Blackmailed into doubling for a prince with a most inopportune and unsuitable disease he has to use all his reserves of deceit, low cunningly, and treachery to stay one hop ahead of pursuing death. The Prisoner of Zenda? Here's what really happened."

Oh, what fun, right? Wrong. To think what could have been. Did I really only read 60 pages? Because it seemed closer to 100. That's how slowly things unfold and how dreadfully dull the adolescent Flashman was. I couldn't take it.

Lyrical sentence structure and liberal use of period slang cannot make up for situations which, ultimately, lack humor. As in "I was caught with my pants down at a bordello and now I'm running away from the coppers and getting dressed at the same time." Har har har. Or how about "Hey! I'll bet I can get that 60 something retired boxing champion to beat the crap out of the snotty Prussian." Yuckity, yuck. "Hey! Isn't that the former Mrs. James flouncing about on stage with her bosoms popping out? We can so totally humiliate her. Just watch!" Oh, stop, I'm laughing so hard. 

1 comment:

  1. It makes you wonder what all of those readers were thinking for 20 years, doesn't it?