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Flashman gets some backbone
on January 25, 2001
Reading this series in chronological order has been tricky, thanks to Fraser's skipping about history. Still, having already read "Flashman", "Royal Flash", and "Flashman's Lady", I saw a change in the "Mountain of Light": Flashy gets a little backbone.
The book itself focuses on a largely forgotten episode in British India, between the Afghan withdrawal in 1842 and the Great Mutiny in the 1850s. This time, Flashman is called into service just as the 80,000-strong Sikh army, the Khalsa, appears ready to sweep down on the English and drive them out once and for all. Flashman is drawn into behind-the-scenes subterfuge that take him from the Sikh royal court to the middle of bloody battlefields. To say much more would spoil the living history that Fraser's created.
However, I find it interesting to note a change in Flashman's character. The first novel, "Flashman", remains my favorite because the young character flees from every battle, and it is only through luck and chicanery that he rises to his fame. Never fear; Flashman still lies to save his hide and jumps on every woman he can get, but I finished "The Mountain of Light" feeling that Flashy had done a pretty good service--which he will tell you in the book. Maybe this is due to Fraser. While the book is the 4th chronologically, it's Fraser's 10th book about his alter ego. Having known the character for so long, maybe Flashman's done a little growing up.