My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Full Disclosure: This is a re-read, or more technically a re-listen, of a Flashman book I have already read. I have read all of the real (non-revisionist) Flashman papers in book form at some point in my life and think highly of them. Still, after not reading one for a decade or more one gets the urge to revisit old haunts. Besides, it was in-stock as a loaner in the local library system. The version I listened to was not the Audible version featuring Timothy West as a narrator, rather, it was the Random House Audio version featuring David Case.
Mild spoilers follow.
The story is classic Flashman. He is at the end of his Indian Mutiny adventures outlined in FLASHMAN IN THE GREAT GAME, and waiting to get on a the packet for home, when an unpleasant domestic situation (of course), leads to him leaving India precipitously, where he ends up in South Africa at the tender mercies of John Charity Spring, the insane slaver, sea-captain and disgraced Oxford Don from FLASH FOR FREEDOM! As you can guess, things go haywire. What Flashman story wouldn’t? He ends up in Baltimore, enmeshed in various plots and schemes hatched up by abolitionists, pro-Southern secessionists, and reluctantly, the U.S. Government. It wouldn’t do to give too much away, just to say that Flashy is blackmailed into participating in the Harper’s Ferry schemes of one John Brown, Sr. in his crazy bid to free all the slaves in the American South. We all know how that one ended. What makes the narrative interesting and highly enjoyable is Fraser’s portrayal of all the secret societies and characters looming around this incident, and his surprisingly sympathetic portrait of John Brown, whom Flashy seems to have some affection for.
If you read my reviews, you’ve read my review of Flashman and the Dragon. I love this series, I make no bones about that. Re-reading the Flashman series is a worthy endeavor, and in general they hold up well. I rate this particular less higher than others for some of the sheer implausible jumps in logic that are taken to further the plot. Flashman seems to be ensnared rather easily every step of the way to Harper’s Ferry, and that doesn’t seem like him at all. Still, the notes are fantastic as usual, the historical material very engaging, and what can I say.. it’s a Flashman novel, and that means a fun time.
It’s not fair to mark DOWN for an audio review, but listening to David Case attempt American accents is at time hilarious, and other times wince-inducing. I suggest getting the Audible version with Timothy West narrating. He sounds like an upper class Briton attempting an American accent.. not that growly, mush-mouthed staccato served up by Mr. Case.
Other than the Random House audio, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Flashman and the Angel of the Lord. Bring the Jubilee!