Flashman's latest adventure, ninth in Fraser's popular series (Flashman and the Dragon, Flashman and the Redskins, Flashman's Lady, etc.), recalls his young days on the northwest frontier of India when the Sikhs decided to take on the Raj. It all begins with tea at Windsor Castle, where Queen Victoria has invited her dear friends Elspeth and Sir Harry in order to get a little more information about just exactly how she should display the enormous Koh-i-noor diamond at her Jubilee, Sir Harry having been the first to see it in the hands of its Indian owners at the time of the Sikh revolt of the early 1840's. Actually, though, where Flashman first saw it was in the succulent navel of dowager Maharani Jeendan, who delights in passing it navel to navel with her dancing partners in her Punjab palace. Flashman is in the Punjab to do a bit of spying. In mufti and fully shaved, he has been sent to get a close look at Punjabi politics, which have been in an uproar since the death of the old maharaja. In the absence of a strong ruler, the democratic cadres of the army have worked up a war fever and are contemplating an attack on the British across the Sutlej river. No Flashman fan will be surprised to learn that the politically shrewd but thoroughly lewd maharani quickly takes a fancy to the newly married Lt. Flashman or that Flashman quickly decides that royalty must be obliged. Between their frolics, the history of the first Sikh rebellion is presented in agreeable and understandable detail, including chatty footnotes and a handy glossary. Smashing.