Flashman at his worst. But for his fans, that means he's at his best in this, his most reckless, erotic adventure yet. Flashy yearns to unclothe the wife of a man of the cloth, smuggles opium to Hong Kong, grovels to a warlord, hooks up with a lady pirate from the Amazon and offers himself as a sex toy to the world's most stunning -- and evil -- woman.
As usual, Flashy rises to each occasion, no matter how low he must go.
"Extremely funny, but meticulously authentic. Between guffaws, you learn from it." (The Washington Post)
The delightful cad Flashman stalks again, now through China's 19th-century Taiping Rebellion, in this eighth and perhaps most sparkling volume of his ``memoirs.'' Though a little longer in the tooth, Colonel Flashman, V.C., has lost none of his dash, cunning, amorous propensity or cowardice. His adventures begin when he accompanies a consignment of ``opium'' (actually guns) to Canton on behalf of a British missionary. Thereafter, as Ambassador Elgin's chief intelligence officer, he gets into a succession of dire scrapes which include being attacked by pirates and falling into the hands first of the ferocious but disciplined Taipings, then of the equally ferocious but decadent Manchu imperialists. At one point he comes within a hair's breadth of having his poltroonery exposed; at other points he finds himself the sexual partner of a Chinese Amazon and, more plaything than partner, of the formidable Imperial Concubine Yi, later empress, to whose treacherous court intrigues he becomes privy. He winds up witnessing Elgin's destruction of Peking's Summer Palace, an act of vengeance described with horrifying vividness. There's a deal of shrewd observation in Flashman, and a deal of solid history in his flamboyant memoirs, factors that add weight to their dazzle. (April 4)