Reviews: Fiction

Flashman in the Peninsular

Brightwell, Robert. Flashman in the Peninsular. FeedARead, 2014. 284 p. ISBN# 9781784075590. Paperback/ebook.

Flashman in the Peninsular

Robert Brightwell presents the third installment (Flashman and the Seawolf and Flashman and the Cobra) of the fictional adventures of Thomas Flashman, scoundrel, coward, womanizer, and cheat. Having returned from India a hero, Thomas Flashman, uncle of the Victorian soldier and adventurer Sir Harry Flashman, finds himself stripped of his (undeserved) battlefield promotion and pay by a ungrateful, penny pinching government, adrift in London and in need of ready cash. Selling fake historical relics to gullible British aristocrats, Flashman gets involved in manipulating a scandal which brings down a member of the Royal family but results in him having to flee the country to avoid a vengeful government.

Fortunately for Flashman, Arthur Wellesley (not yet Wellington), who has already been mistakenly impressed with Flashman’s courage at Assaye (Flashman and the Cobra), is on his way back to Spain to organize resistance to Napoleon in the Iberian peninsula and wants our reluctant hero on his staff. Flashman’s duties as liaison to the Spanish army which would ostensibly allow him to shirk from any dangerous duties instead finds him, in true Flashman fashion, frequently thrown into hot water. Flashman’s adventures include reluctantly stopping a French army at Alcantara, unwillingly charging vitually alone against the French guns at Talavera, feuding with a killer Spanish dwarf, tending to Lord Byron’s flea-bitten dog, and barely surviving the battle of Busaco.

Brightwell’s book are an acknowledged homage to the original Flashman series. Brightwell’s ability to capture George Macdonald Fraser’s skill at creating a compelling story that combines adventure with humor has grown over the three volumes.  Brightwell seems more confident in creating Flashman’s voice, an integral aspect of the success of Fraser’s creation. Brightwell’s Flashman still remains more PC than the original, but that might be as much a product of our times compared to the 1960s when Flashman first appeared. Brightwell’s Flashman is a creditable successor to Fraser’s original Flashman. Fast-paced and readable, I look forward to the continuation of Flashy’s adventures in the Peninsular War.

Reviewed by Tom Holmberg

Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2014


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