Saturday, March 26, 2016

Flashman & The Tiger by George Macdonald Fraser

Eight former sergeants of the Border Regiment gathered in the pre-dawn Burma sunlight to review the Sacred Relics of G.M. Fraser, discuss the relationship of Flashman to James Bond, and consider how even fictional cowards and bullies can change the world for the good – or at least for the Victorian Cross.  One by one the troopers took one step forward, saluted smartly, and had their say:

Bob Woods:   What I find most appealing in the Flashman Papers is that the author takes a specific incident and researches the heck out of it.  His meticulous research had me convinced that he was a historian who turned to writing fiction, but as it turns out, he is a journalist who loves research.  A-

Keith:  Looking for a concise summary of Flashman:  Casanova; Lady Killer; rake; rouĂ©; wolf; woman chaser.  50 pages is plenty for me; however, the ending was superb.  Dynamic action is good in the short run.   Hearing 40 minutes of Rush Limbaugh gives you knowledge of what 4 hours will be like.  B-

Kenny G:  This is my first Flashman book.  I read “Flashman & The Tiger” story first and thought it clever to mix history and fiction.  B+ for that story.   However, the Baccarat story was overdrawn, turned me off:  C+   Overall:  B-

Bob Simon:  I read the first and last story, not the one about Baccarat.  I enjoyed the ending to the first story, thought it clever:  A-  I loved the energy of the story – invigorating.  Even humorous writers don’t have this energy.  Good ol’ Flashy goes in, gets the woman, fights his way out – wild!  He saves Franz Joseph from being assassinated, gets high commendations.  Interesting, but not sure I would recommend to others.  Charming, a genre I’m not familiar with.  I don’t know how Fraser animates his artistic genre.  A-

Charlie:  Fun and entertaining, I enjoyed reading it.  Doesn’t compare well with Western Literature.  Doesn’t make it to the top level – very good, but B overall.  Good fun.

Dick Arms:  I enjoyed it.  I read the first part, then learned I was supposed to read the third part.  Very skillfully written, excellent grasp of history, loved where he was idololizing his granddaughter only to discover that she had his same sense of morals.  Skillfully done, probably not tell all my friends to read it.  A-

Mike:  If the twin goals of reading are for entertainment and to learn, this was a top-notch book.  I am always amazed with how little of human history I know.  Especially entertaining to read Flashman on a Kindle iPad app.  
Here one can click on words like Isandl'wana and impi, and people like Cetshwayo and Lord Chelmsford to try to ascertain:  are these fictional or real?  Great mixture of both, and I subsequently learned a great deal.  My thanks to Brother Simon for introducing me to the movie "Zulu" – at, a search for Zulu chants brings 6 minutes of unforgettable video.  A-

… and from well outside of Zululand …

Dear Bob,

Sorry I won't be able to join in the conversation on Thursday.  We will be RVing in northern Arizona far from the threat of Hungarian fanatics, Gordon-Cumming, and Zulus.

I purchased the First Anchor Books 1999 edition of Flashman and the Tiger and read all three extracts.  I did not enjoy "The Subtleties of Baccarat" as much as I did "The Road to Charring Cross" and "Flashman and the Tiger."  These were the first works by George MacDonald Fraser I had ever read.  I enjoyed them very much.  They were fun, if not alway funny--British humor doesn't always tickle my fancy.  Harry Flashman is a protagonist I had difficulty identifying with (still trying to imagine a cowardly Indiana Jones or James Bond), but GMF was successful in keeping me in suspense in every one of Sir Harry's adventures.  A-



Bob and Mike:
I will not be at the meeting tonight.
Here is my brief review of the book.
I enjoyed reading Flashman and The Tiger,  I think it was quite well written and I found the characters interesting--the story was also quite interesting.  I planned to read more stories about Flashman (the book that I bought has two more stories in it) but I was not able to read them--we have been out of town on a cruise.
I don't think this story was quite as good as some of the previous ones that we have read so I would give it a B.

Sorry to miss the meeting.
Dick Jensen

The first Flashman tale we read [2000] led me to regard the hero as a lovable scalawag.  I didn't think our hero was very lovable in this Tiger tale.  Closer to loathsome.  Glad it was short.

C plus.  The plus is for brevity.