Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 05-02-2014, 03:33 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 74,865
Pseudo-Flashman recommendations

I've read all that Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser. And unfortunately, there aren't going to be any more.

But I see there are a number of books that are loosely (or not all that loosely) inspired by the series: an anti-hero protagonist present at historical events.

I'd be interested in hearing any opinions from people who have read any of the following books:

The Thomas Flashman books by Robert Brightwell. Three books about Flashman's uncle, set during the Napoleonic wars.

The Harry Flashman Jr books by Paul Moore. Only one book so far but the author is planning on more. Based on Flashman's illegitimate son. Set during WWI.

Harry Flashman and the Invasion of Iraq by H.C. Tayler. A descendant of Flashman in modern times.

The Speedicut papers by Christopher Joll. A series of books based around another Tom Brown character. Three books so far in what's planned as a ten book series.

The Carton Chronicles by Keith Laidler. A crossover book that has Sydney Carton being Harry Flashman's real father.

The Adventures of Charlie Smithers by C.W. Lovatt. A book "inspired" by the Flashman books.

The Life and Times of Archibald Brinsley Fox by Stewart Hennessey. Two books set during the Russian Revolution.

Thorverton and the Nile by Stephen Manning. Another book inspired by Flashman.

The Martin Jerrold books by Edwin Thomas. A Napoleonic naval character.

The Otto Prohaska books by John Biggins. An Austo-Hungarian character around WWI.

The Roger Shallot books by Michael Clynes. A medieval series.

The Alan Lewrie series by Dewey Lambdin. A naval series set during the Napoleonic wars. Apparently successful as there are fourteen books in the series so far.

The Bandy Papers by Donald Jack. A series about Barthlomew Bandy, a pilot in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Fenwick Travers books by Raymond Saunders. An American character like Flashman.

Scoundrel! by Keith Thompson. Based on James Wilkinson, a real life person.

Any other recommendations in this genre would be welcome.
#2
Old 05-02-2014, 06:43 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 2,229
You could try the Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich.
Gage is an American caught up in the French Revolution and the subsequent wars, etc. The first two, Napoloen's Pyramids and The Rosetta Stone form a pair set during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Great fun!

He's also written a couple of stand alone historicals which I thought were very good; one about Hadrian's Wall and one about Attila the Hun. Details on the site I linked to.
#3
Old 05-02-2014, 07:14 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
I thoroughly recommend C. C. Humphreys' Jack Absolute novels, although there are sadly only three of them. They're based in the 19th Century North American British campaigns against the French, and Jack Absolute is a British intelligence agent: whom, to the detriment of his spying career, the playwright Richard Sheridan based his own comic character Captain Jack Absolute upon. The real Jack Absolute must thwart French plots in the New World while living down the reputation of his fictional namesake...
#4
Old 05-02-2014, 07:51 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I've read all that Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser. And unfortunately, there aren't going to be any more.

But I see there are a number of books that are loosely (or not all that loosely) inspired by the series: an anti-hero protagonist present at historical events.

I'd be interested in hearing any opinions from people who have read any of the following books:

The Otto Prohaska books by John Biggins. An Austo-Hungarian character around WWI.
I rate "Prohaska" as absolutely splendid. IMO, though, the "Flashman" parallel here is only partial. The hero and first-person narrator, Ottokar Prohaska, does indeed feature on a considerable variety of World War I's theatres of operations -- and assorted pre-WWI stuff -- re all of which, he's an acute and unsparing observer and commentator. And the books deliver a mixture of the comical / ridiculous, and the tragic and heartbreaking. But Prohaska, though cynical in world-view, is anything but a scoundrel -- he's a thoroughly decent and honourable guy.

Sadly, there are only four Prohaska books. Potential is there, for plenty more -- there are many passing references in the novels, to Prohaska's long picaresque "expat" career after WWI ends and the Austro-Hungarian Empire ceases to exist. I gather that Biggins would have wished to write further, re this milieu; but the Prohaska books had only indifferent sales, and the author would have had financial difficulties re going further along this road. Frustrating, in the light of all the total crap which is published and sells hugely...

Quote:
The Roger Shallot books by Michael Clynes. A medieval series.
(Actually, set in Tudor -- rather than medieval -- England.) After dipping a toe into these, I reckoned them frankly, bloody awful -- a crude, clumsy, unoriginal attempt at jumping on the "Flashman-be-alike" bandwagon, which for me totally failed to work. Others' mileages may vary.

A few years ago I came upon a hilarious bit of fanfic, unfortunately now lost to me without trace. It involved -- no word of a lie -- a crossover between Fraser's Harry Flashman, and "Harry Potter". (Flashy gets, by wizarding means, a trip to the future and back again.)
#5
Old 05-02-2014, 12:58 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
Posts: 9,896
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
The Alan Lewrie series by Dewey Lambdin. A naval series set during the Napoleonic wars. Apparently successful as there are fourteen books in the series so far.
I'm on the third one in the series and am somewhat regretting having bought the fourth at the same time. He's not really pulling off the "amoral rascal" -- his hero isn't particularly heroic, but he's not as gloriously bawdy as Flashman -- he just likes to screw a lot. So its a bit like an indifferently written Horatio Hornblower novel interspersed with indifferently written soft porn. It turns out that you have to be a more talented author than Lambdin to successfully write a good sex scene.

He can't write a good comic scene either, or maybe he just hasn't tried yet.
#6
Old 05-02-2014, 04:32 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 74,865
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finagle View Post
I'm on the third one in the series and am somewhat regretting having bought the fourth at the same time. He's not really pulling off the "amoral rascal" -- his hero isn't particularly heroic, but he's not as gloriously bawdy as Flashman -- he just likes to screw a lot. So its a bit like an indifferently written Horatio Hornblower novel interspersed with indifferently written soft porn. It turns out that you have to be a more talented author than Lambdin to successfully write a good sex scene.

He can't write a good comic scene either, or maybe he just hasn't tried yet.
For what it's worth I see that the Forester estate has authorized the continuation of the series. John Mahon has written The Jamaican Affair of 1805 which begins where Forester's uncompleted last novel ended.
#7
Old 05-02-2014, 04:37 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 74,865
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meurglys View Post
You could try the Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich.
Gage is an American caught up in the French Revolution and the subsequent wars, etc. The first two, Napoloen's Pyramids and The Rosetta Stone form a pair set during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Great fun!
Looking at the descriptions it appears Gage is often involved in quests for ancient magical artifacts. How strong a fantasy element is there in these books?
#8
Old 05-02-2014, 04:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 17,865
One directly inspired by Flashman is The Peshawar Lancers. It's an alternate-history in which a meteor strike has screwed up western Europe and the British Empire is now centred on India - facing dastardly Russian cannibals. It's a hoot.

The main character is clearly supposed to be a descendant of Flashman (though nothing like him in character), and the villian is "Count Ignatieff".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peshawar_Lancers
#9
Old 05-02-2014, 07:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 761
There's even a Flashman in the 'Grim Darkness of the 41st Millenium, where there is only WAR!"

Meet Ciaphis Cain, 'Hero of the Imperium'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciaphas_Cain

They are a guilty pleasure, but i love those books.
#10
Old 05-02-2014, 07:16 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 2,229
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Looking at the descriptions it appears Gage is often involved in quests for ancient magical artifacts. How strong a fantasy element is there in these books?
He ends up searching for secrets of the ancients, especially ones with Masonic relevance. Some scenes are really quite far-fetched! But there's also lots of well-described action and events.
If you don't like 'ancient artifact' thrillers or mysteries then they're not for you.
#11
Old 05-02-2014, 08:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
Denis Wheatley's Roger Brook series, published between 1947 and 1974, is fascinating as a proto-Flashman, and the books, hugely popular in their time, were a major influence on Fraser, although he gleefully subverts their swashbuckling and intrepid hero with the knavish and cowardly Flashy. They're set between the French Revolution and Waterloo, and like Flashman, the eponymous Brook goes absolutely everywhere and meets everyone who was anyone in the period. Here's the synopsis for 1955's The Dark Secret of Josephine:

Quote:
Roger Brook – Prime Minister Pitt's most daring and resourceful secret agent – had sailed for the West Indies with a party that included three beautiful women. His purpose: pleasure. But the Caribbean, blue seas, lush tropical islands and palm-shaded beaches, was infested with pirates. The slaves of the 'Sugar Islands' were in revolt. All this Roger Brook encountered. But also he uncovered a mysterious episode in the early life of the Empress Josephine – a mystery that had its effect on the Parisian intrigues that led to Napoleon receiving his first great command: the Army of Italy. A mystery that tied together many strange scenes and unlikely events.

Last edited by Penfeather; 05-02-2014 at 08:49 PM.
#12
Old 05-02-2014, 09:09 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 74,865
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
One directly inspired by Flashman is The Peshawar Lancers. It's an alternate-history in which a meteor strike has screwed up western Europe and the British Empire is now centred on India - facing dastardly Russian cannibals. It's a hoot.
It's an excellent book. I've always felt that if anyone was going to continue the series after Fraser's death, I'd like to see Stirling do it.
#13
Old 05-02-2014, 11:19 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
Rather more obscurely, The Victor comic in the 70s and 80s had quite a good strip about the adventures of Captain Gerald Cadman, a thinly disguised Flashman variant who skulked and snivelled his way - no rogering in a comic aimed at 10 year old boys - all the way from the Western Front to 1930s Berlin.

Last edited by Penfeather; 05-02-2014 at 11:19 PM.
#14
Old 05-03-2014, 01:35 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
Denis Wheatley's Roger Brook series, published between 1947 and 1974, is fascinating as a proto-Flashman, and the books, hugely popular in their time, were a major influence on Fraser, although he gleefully subverts their swashbuckling and intrepid hero with the knavish and cowardly Flashy. They're set between the French Revolution and Waterloo, and like Flashman, the eponymous Brook goes absolutely everywhere and meets everyone who was anyone in the period. Here's the synopsis for 1955's The Dark Secret of Josephine:
I've found Wheatley's "Roger Brook" series, mostly good fun. (To be pedantic, Roger's adventures abroad actually begin in 1783 -- in the last years of the old French monarchy.) I'd seen similarities between the Brook, and the Flashman, books, though had not realised the mentioned actual modelling by Fraser, after Wheatley's material.

I have always had a bit of a problem with the Brook series, in the suspension-of-disbelief area. As you say, Roger "goes absolutely everywhere and meets anyone who was anyone" -- some of such, in wildly complicated and credibility-straining ways. He spends a lot of time actually among the French military, and becomes well-acquainted with Napoleon and family: passes himself off as a French officer, one Roger Breuc, and gets away with it. Plus, he has yet another alias which he uses at times -- the identity of his Jacobite cousin, who actually exists, though he's never met the guy. There's just no sense-making way that anyone in a limited period of history, could be present at virtually every big event in it. The same, of course, goes for Flashman -- with him, though, one is able to reflect that the whole thing is basically satire and burlesque; and overlook the taking of liberties with what's probable. The narrative of the Brook novels, though, is in deadly-serious vein.

As some of the Flashman novels are IMO better than others: I feel that the same goes for the Brook series, a few of of which are to my mind, poorish stuff. The Irish Witch I find particularly lame. This book, incidentally, features (pretty much the best bit in it) a fairly brief spell which Roger spends in the USA, at the time of the War of 1812 -- if I recall rightly, Roger's only visit ever to North America.
#15
Old 05-03-2014, 01:44 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
Rather more obscurely, The Victor comic in the 70s and 80s had quite a good strip about the adventures of Captain Gerald Cadman, a thinly disguised Flashman variant who skulked and snivelled his way - no rogering in a comic aimed at 10 year old boys - all the way from the Western Front to 1930s Berlin.
Though I'm British, I'd never heard of Captain Gerald Cadman before (link didn't work for me). The whole thing sounds strange and rather fascinating. Even minus the rogering -- it's not an angle on the World Wars, that I can imagine in a British kids' comic from my childhood in the 1950s / early 60s -- straight-up heroism was the only imaginable fare then, in that context. Of course, times change -- and one can see kids a couple of decades later, being a good deal more worldly and cynical; and their parents less likely to have actually taken part in World War II, and to object furiously to perceivedly subversive stuff.
#16
Old 05-03-2014, 01:48 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
One directly inspired by Flashman is The Peshawar Lancers. It's an alternate-history in which a meteor strike has screwed up western Europe and the British Empire is now centred on India - facing dastardly Russian cannibals. It's a hoot.

The main character is clearly supposed to be a descendant of Flashman (though nothing like him in character), and the villian is "Count Ignatieff".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peshawar_Lancers
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
It's an excellent book. I've always felt that if anyone was going to continue the series after Fraser's death, I'd like to see Stirling do it.
I concur -- Stirling would be the guy for the job. If only he'd drop the IMO God-awful stuff he's turning out nowadays, and proceed with further "Flashman" instead...
#17
Old 05-03-2014, 02:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
Quote:
Originally Posted by vontsira View Post
Though I'm British, I'd never heard of Captain Gerald Cadman before (link didn't work for me). The whole thing sounds strange and rather fascinating. Even minus the rogering -- it's not an angle on the World Wars, that I can imagine in a British kids' comic from my childhood in the 1950s / early 60s -- straight-up heroism was the only imaginable fare then, in that context. Of course, times change -- and one can see kids a couple of decades later, being a good deal more worldly and cynical; and their parents less likely to have actually taken part in World War II, and to object furiously to perceivedly subversive stuff.
Try that link. Yeah, it was an odd strip, but a very interesting one despite its derivative character.
#18
Old 05-03-2014, 03:04 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
Try that link. Yeah, it was an odd strip, but a very interesting one despite its derivative character.
Crikey, what a bounder!
#19
Old 05-03-2014, 06:13 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
Try that link. Yeah, it was an odd strip, but a very interesting one despite its derivative character.
This one worked -- thanks. It does seem a very creative idea to make such a figure, an anti-hero in a kids' comic strip -- for sure, a thing I'd never have thought of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
And here he is at Gallipoli ! ... He certainly -- to borrow your words -- seems to go absolutely everywhere and meet everyone.
#20
Old 05-03-2014, 08:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
At a bit of a loose end, and keeping making posts: Wheatley's "Roger Brook" series getting an airing, brings to mind for me, the same author's "Gregory Sallust" books: "the mixture as before", so to speak, but about World War II instead of the Napoleonic Wars. Seven or eight books in the series IIRC: the eponymous hero, a super-skilful British secret agent, is closely involved with -- and plays vital roles in -- nearly every part of the war in the European theatre. (He has no first-hand ado with the Japan / Pacific part of the conflict -- maybe the sheer logistics of getting him to and from that side of the world, as well as his being into most things in the ETO, would defeat even an author of Wheatley- or Fraser-level ingenuity?)

The Sallust books are a gripping and exciting read (punctuated with didactic stuff in the guise of the books' characters discussing the twists and turns of the war) if you like that kind of thing. However, they get yet further away from true Flashman-resemblance. Gregory Sallust is a tough and ruthless fighter and intriguer in his country's cause; but he's very much a man of true courage, and integrity -- and fairly faithful in the love-life department (with the odd lapse) -- the true great love of his life is an anti-Nazi German lady.
#21
Old 05-03-2014, 03:27 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 74,865
I just remembered another interesting series: The Desert Peach by Donna Barr. It was a comic book series back in the nineties about Manfred Rommel, Erwin Rommel's flamboyantly gay younger brother who commanded a support unit in the North Africa campaign.
#22
Old 05-03-2014, 03:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 8,508
I came here to mention Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium! Then I found out someone already had.
#23
Old 05-03-2014, 03:33 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 9,113
There's The Walled Orchard and Goatsong by Tom Holt, which are set in Athens at the time of the Pelopennesian War; the protagonist is not quite Flashman-level awful but is definitely not heroic and very cynical. There's a later book by Holt called Olympiad (I think) that is similarly cynical about ancient Greece. All three are quite different in tone from Holt's usual light fantasy stories.
#24
Old 05-03-2014, 05:40 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,245
This is getting further from the OP, but Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida is a brutal deconstruction of literary conceits about the romance and chivalry of war. It's bleak, bitter and cynical, and Homer's culture heroes are depicted as knaves, fools, thugs, pimps and cynics, with the slave Thersites providing a mordant commentary throughout. It's an astonishingly modern play for 1603; it reads more like it was written in Weimar Germany.
#25
Old 05-03-2014, 05:51 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 854
The Red Baron Lives ! by Brian Innes may be a candidate . In it the Baron survives his shooting down, but officially is declared dead. The British Secret Service blackmail him (I think) and recruit him to perform special missions for them as a pilot . He is still in hospital when the first seduction scene occurs and several follow. He is not portrayed as a coward but somewhat amoral. The mission described is an attempt to save the Russian imperial family before their execution. On the way he encounters Lawrence of Arabia, amongst other historical characters

It seemed to me that the book was laying a pathway for further adventures in the turbulent inter war years, but I am not aware of any sequels .
#26
Old 05-03-2014, 06:12 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 854
Looking up goodreads .com I find there is a book called Red Red Baron suggesting further adventures of the Red Baron in Soviet Russia .

In addition to my previous post I must add that the Baron was flying a large passenger cargo plane, the make which I cannot remember .

Last edited by Damfino; 05-03-2014 at 06:14 PM. Reason: typo
#27
Old 05-03-2014, 07:15 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota US
Posts: 15,582
Banana Republican, by Eric Rauchway borrows the character of "sexist, racist, elitist" Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby and places him in the middle of the actual revolution/ American intervention in 1924 Nicaragua
#28
Old 05-03-2014, 07:25 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 761
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Scud View Post
There's The Walled Orchard and Goatsong by Tom Holt, which are set in Athens at the time of the Pelopennesian War; the protagonist is not quite Flashman-level awful but is definitely not heroic and very cynical. There's a later book by Holt called Olympiad (I think) that is similarly cynical about ancient Greece. All three are quite different in tone from Holt's usual light fantasy stories.
They're all pretty good as well, i'd recommend them.
#29
Old 05-03-2014, 10:23 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,902
Yes, Holt's historical novels are good.

Another that comes to mind is Julian Rathbone's A Very English Agent, which focuses, more or less, on the Peterloo massacre, with another bit about Shelley's death in Italy. The protagonist is cynical and shifty, but otherwise quite different than Harry Flashman: unimposing, obscure, and poor. Looks like Rathbone wrote several other historical novels. I should look into them.
#30
Old 05-04-2014, 07:39 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Hartwick View Post
Yes, Holt's historical novels are good.

Another that comes to mind is Julian Rathbone's A Very English Agent, which focuses, more or less, on the Peterloo massacre, with another bit about Shelley's death in Italy. The protagonist is cynical and shifty, but otherwise quite different than Harry Flashman: unimposing, obscure, and poor. Looks like Rathbone wrote several other historical novels. I should look into them.
I've read a couple of Rathbone's historical novels -- reckoned them rather weird, but fascinating. One was The Last English King, which I gather is his most acclaimed novel: the first-person narrator being a member of King Harold's house-guards at Hastings. A trait of this book, is the author's jest of slyly slipping in various anachronisms -- which I enjoyed, but which could imaginably grate on some readers. Have also read his Kings of Albion -- a mission to England during the Wars of the Roses, undertaken by a small group of dignitaries from a state in India, who are considerably more civilised and knowledgeable than their English counterparts.

I found what I've read of his Very English Agent books OK, but was not immensely taken with them -- just a matter of personal taste, no doubt.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:34 PM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: indignant cat pusillanimous etymology cat eats bread microwaving french fries walmart shredder oil two fours star wars trophies tuning piano cost phillips vs flathead uncut tv shows prevpac cost pilot a plane bus etymology old encyclopaedias 1960s cigarette brands tea kettle noise compressible liquids iv message board define illusionary define tout suite how to blackmail latin beaver bye bye butterfly pluck ewe garrote for sale meryl streep porn nessun dorma movie buy back vehicles santana winning bird samples gallagher the onion luxaire furnaces spanish irish bonus multiplier slow toilet drano engine steam cleaner led zeppelin zoso symbol do scrap yards take tvs does reckless driving show on background check usps package pickup without notice empire state building observation deck 102 floor last four digits of credit card how long to bake a potato at 450 lending club payment due date if a mechanic doesn't fix the problem vincent gray sixth sense how to euthanize a goldfish chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips film location rental rates old motor oil to fertilize your lawn f14 f15 f16 f18 is there a statute of limitations on traffic tickets do deer eat sunflowers is it bad to say no to contacting previous employer 11 or 12 point font bank of america automatic minimum payment psalm 23 rod and staff you're welcome in japanese casual throwing trash in someone else's dumpster new cars with manual windows upper gi vs egd the flintstones theme song lyrics movies with southern accents ich hob dich lieb how long does it take to recover from a gunshot wound to the abdomen aqua teen hunger force quote oh ee oh ee oh paddy o furniture joke red vs green antifreeze