I heard about the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser while watching a British show, in which various TV personalities shared some of the books that had made an impact on them in their lives. I can’t remember who had mentioned Flashman, but it sounded interesting, despite his disclaimer about some of the main character’s behavior.
I started with the first book in the series, presently titled as just Flashman, which introduces you to the character of the same name through papers supposedly found among his belongings after he died. He chronicles part of his childhood and experiences in a private school, and then jumps to the beginning of his military career, starting with training and then in traveling to the British colonies of India and Afghanistan.
You soon realize that Flashman is not as great a hero as others have found him to be. He is rather cowardly and is only interested in his own well-being, even causing another man’s death by running away from danger instead of fighting. He also does some pretty awful things, like raping a woman he meets while traveling; some people may have considered this acceptable at the time, but it’s hard to read about it in today’s times, even with that context.
Initially, I thought this book was interesting, but as Flashman’s true character became revealed, I had a harder time reading on. I tried to take him for what he was and read with that in mind, but eventually, I just had to skim to finish, and decided not to read further books in the series. The books aren’t badly written, but without anyone to cheer for, I just didn’t enjoy reading about Flashman.