"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
We join him in 1868, a sword’s-breadth ahead of an Austrian officer whose great-niece he has ravished and — his mile-wide yellow streak notwithstanding — happy to be advancing with Sir Robert Napier’s forces to free a party of Her Majesty’s subjects held captive by the deranged, Kurtz-like Abyssinian king, Theodore.
Not one to rebuff the amorous advances of the nubile Nubians who fling themselves at his breeches, Flashy is much less enamoured of an undercover mission that sees him strapped into an iron-maiden-like contraption and dangled above an abyss, being dragged into the maw of a raging waterfall (his chivalry disappears over the edge, along with his vengeful warrior lover Uliba-Wark) and — in an arch inversion of his own fiendish party trick from Tom Brown’s Schooldays — nearly roasted by natives on a fire.
MacDonald Fraser’s rollicking, roistering novel is not so much a march as a full-blooded charge, fortified by the usual lashings of salty sex, meticulously choreographed battle scenes and hilariously spineless acts of self-preservation by the eponymous bounder. As you are whisked at an unflagging clip from one comical coupling (“I confess I entered into the spirit of the thing uninvited, going ‘Brrr!’ between her boobies as she collapsed whimpering on my ruined carcase”) to the next life-threatening scrape, it feels like being in the company of an old friend — albeit one who is likely to roger your wife, seduce your daughter, snaffle your finest cigars and polish off your best brandy.