Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers #2): George MacDonald Fraser

This is the second volume of the Flashman Papers, and picks up from where the last one – Flashman – left off. We have Flashman meeting Otto von Bismarck, and helping deal with major questions around German unification – all much against his will and with him as ever trying to get out of it as much as possible. We see our dashing hero, with his fine whiskers getting to be royalty for a while, but still not managing to end up on top.

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Flashman (The Flashman Papers #1): George MacDonald Fraser

We are introduced here to the memoirs of Harry Flashman, recently expelled from Rugby School – as recounted in Tom Brown’s School Days – and now needing to find something to do. Flashman is writing these much later in life, and this is but the first packet found in a salehouse some where.

The book moves at a fair pace and is very enjoyable, we get through a couple of years of life, and a trip to Afghanistan. All in all this is a pleasure to read, just don;t think about it to hard.

Flashman at the Charge (Flashman Papers, #4): George MacDonald Fraser

Here we have the fourth instalment of the memoirs of Harry Flashman, where he manages to rise from the rank of Captain to that of Colonel. The book follows Flashman to the Crimea and the Charge of the Light Brigade, and then on to as he hints to save India for the empire. Again we see Flashman being the hero despite his best efforts to avoid it all. Also we get to meet one of Flashman’s fellows from Rugby School

I have to say one of the joys – aside form the main plot – of these books is the historical footnotes, which make the book feel more solid in what comes up.

Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt, Book Two): Adrian Tchaikovsky

This is the second of the Shadow of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky,  set in a nicely created fantasy world.

 

The book picks up where the first one left off, with the whole cast of characters moving on with what they where doing. While some new characters do come in, it is good to see the development of the existing characters. Here there is some solid character development – I especially like Totho’s story.

We also get to see more of the nations of the world, and see that not only are the characters well built, but the world they inhabit is as well.

The development here is good, however the book is clearly part of the series, and I think would not make as much sense if the first book in the series was not read first.

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, Book One): Adrian Tchaikovsky

This is the first of the Shadow of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, set in a nicely created fantasy world. In this world all the characters, the “humans” are related to insects, and from the type of insect their related to they inherit some of the natural abilities (called Arts) of that insect. This works well with a nice selection of insect-kin being presented (and not all of them know about).

The main plot follows Stenwold Maker and his attempts to prevent his home land falling to the Wasp Empire. In general there is both high action and cunning intrigue going on together. With a nice cast of characters who seem in the main rounded and with their own plot and background.

Another feature which I liked was that we saw things from both sides, with the author not showing a distinct favouritism to one side or the other in the narrative (though many characters do so), and thus there is no clear good and evil here, only the main shades of grey which are found when dealing with ethical questions.