Flashman & Dragon

George MacDonald Fraser, Author Alfred A. Knopf $16.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-394-55357-3
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)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1986
Release date: 03/01/1986
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-00-721721-2
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-452-26191-4
Hardcover - 978-0-00-750561-6
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