Review: Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

Villians are supposed to lose.  I just finished a novel where not only does the villian win, you are rooting for him! This is the basis of “Flashman” by George MacDonald Fraser .

Upfront Review: Flashman is the novel’s hero… and an amoral bastard, but endlessly fascinating.  A great romp through British colonial history. Flashman is such a great villian, I might use a version of him in my next game module.

Flashman ” the novel purports to be the “found” autobiography of Harry Flashman, hero of England uncovered in 1965 at an auction. Flashman, which is the name he usually goes by, describes in great detail his lifetime of adventures.  The novel spans the years from 1839-1842 and Flashman’s posting to Afghanistan. So far it is just like any other adventure novel with a dashing hero, hostile natives and an exotic locale. This is the first in a series of 12 books!

The novel is written in the first person, so we get to know Flashman’s darkest thoughts. It is from these thoughts we learn, almost immediately that Flashman is a cowardly  villian.  Nothing is beneath him. Every devious, underhanded trick you never dared use , Flashman  wields with  skill.  His only goal is self-advancement and preservation. Every other human being on the planet is nothing more than a tool for his use and abuse.

A quick rundown of  Flashman’s villiany:

Cheating at a duel

Seducing his step-mother





Lying, lots and lots of lying

Every step of the way, Flashman gets himself into trouble and somehow squirms out, appearing all the more heroic  with every step. I thought I would get tired of his antics, but the character is so interesting, I could not help but support his ongoing villiany.

The book puts “Flashman” into real historical events, but as an observer or unamed participant. There are helpful footnotes on historical figures and events that really added to the books “feel.”

So, if you are tired of heroes hogging all of the glory, here is your opportunity root for the bad guy.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

Full Disclosure: The book links to my Amazon astore, so I get a percentage if you buy a copy.



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.