Flashman and the Mountain of Light

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Readers of the Flashman Papers are well aware that the roguish Flash earnestly endeavored to avoid any situation which might prove fatal or even mildly uncomfortable. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, he was compelled not only to live in exciting times but also to find himself perpetually “in the thick of it.” The biggest problem with having a heroic reputation, as Flashman would be quick to acknowledge, is the expectation that one is eager to repeat the experience.

This particular episode in Flashman’s long and varied career begins in the aftermath of his successful effort to rescue his kidnapped wife Elspeth, as recounted in FLASHMAN’S LADY. The First Sikh War is on the horizon, and the unwilling Flashman is dispatched to Bombay. Recruited to serve as diplomat-cum-spy to the Sikh court he is immediately, and typically, ensconced in the lap of carnal luxury. Affairs political soon intrude on this idyllic scene, however, and Flashman is again forced to flee for his life. Predictably, the craven Flash finds refuge in the midst of another battlefield and adds new undeserved laurels to his name.

Fraser’s historical novels with their extensive footnotes and skillful mixture of fact and plausible fiction have met with popular approval, and this work should prove no exception. FLASHMAN AND THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT illuminates a portion of British imperial history often relegate to a footnote in a fashion calculated to send many readers searching for more information.