* Prices may differ from that shown
Flashman is the cad to end all cads and this eponymous novel is the first in a series detailing his adventures, or to put it more correctly, his misadventures.
If the name Flashman seems familiar, that is because the gentleman in question featured in another book written many years previously: Tom Brown's Schooldays. Harry Flashman featured in that novel as the bully at Rugby School who frequently tormented poor Tom, and from which he was last seen leaving having been expelled for drunkenness.
Flashman and the subsequent novels are written as a memoire by our hero who, at the time of writing, is now an elderly, much decorated and lauded hero of England and who has decided to set the record straight. These Flashman Papers are supposedly rediscovered and published in 1965.
Even in the first few pages of the novel, it soon becomes clear that the heroic view of Flashman held by Victorian society is entirely erroneous. Here Harry is telling the truth, probably for the first time in his life, and it is plain that he hasn't changed much other than that he has evolved from the bullying schoolboy into a rank coward. However, our Flashy is a coward who always seems to land on his feet and emerge from any dire situation smelling of the proverbial rose and invariably gaining a medal into the bargain!
In this first of the series and by way of introduction, Flashman gives his version of events at Rugby, and sets the scene for his adventures, following his joining the British Army and his subsequent shipping overseas in defence of his country. As his army career coincides with the expansion of the British Empire, we see the development of that empire through his eyes and read his unvarnished truth about himself and the events with which he was uwillingly involved.
Although it isn't strictly necessary to read the subsequent books in date order, it really is best to begin with this one in order to get to know the charming, dissolute and very attractive Harry Flashman.
Flashman's creator, George Macdonald Fraser, endowed Harry with such charm that his early bullying and even his cowardice throughout his military career make him a very likeable character.
The books are mainly set on the Indian subcontinent and the Far East with later books covering such momentous events as the Boxer Rebellion and the first Afghan war, which strikes a chord, given our current involvement in that country.
There's no need to buy these books brand new. Many turn up in charity shops or can be picked up on auction sites for a few pence and, of course, every library in the land probably has the whole series for you to borrow for free.
Whichever way you choose to acquire your copy of this book, it is a great way to learn British history whilst having a darn good read and I guarantee that you'll be as seduced by Harry Flashman as I have been and, indeed, the countless women with whom he was intimately involved!