As a little girl I used to devour Karl May‘s Wild West stories where Old Shatterhand and Winnetou would be the shining heroes. But I have never touched another warrior/ wild-west kind of book ever since.
Until I came across Flashman.
Seeing the sexist, patriarchal book cover showing a slimy, arrogant womanizer in uniform, holding the sword as a phallus symbol, an Indian-looking woman lovingly embracing his feet did make me a little sceptical at first.
But as it was forced upon me by a friend, I decided to give that asshole-looking dude a chance.
Flashman describes himself as “the portrait of a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward – and, oh yes, a toady” in the first of many ‘Flashman’-books by George MacDonald Fraser.
Real memories? No, but still good.
In the introduction to that book Fraser claims that he has found Flashman’s original memoires which he just edited. A lot of historical footnotes are supposed to prove this true.
I was right to judge Flashman by the cover: Harry Paget Flashman is the most despicable person you can imagine.
He drinks, gambles, cheats, abuses his servants with delight, beds every available women (rapes the rest) and abandons his allies at the first sight of danger.
But still – with an enormous amount of luck and the necessary money – he ends up being the hero, the honoured soldier rising to high ranks in the British army.
Why you should read this
The combination of this horrible/ interesting/ appaling character and brilliantly intelligent, quick paced writing makes you willingly follow Flashman on camel, pony, horse or mule where ever his ‘career’ takes him.
Even though you might not necessarily identify with Flashman, you simply must enjoy joining this rascal on his outrageous adventures.