The rowdy, bawdy adventures of a charming cad, adept with both heart-slicing blade and heart-melting words.
British author Fraser (1925–2008), the phenomenally popular creator of Harry Flashman (Flashman on the March, 2005, etc.), really has only one character in his armory, the rogue whom men admire and women faint over, even as they recognize that he’s the sort mummy warned them against. In this instance, the rogue in question is a light-fingered reaver, a sort of junior highwayman out on the frontier of Scotland and England, who finds his merry days complicated by regicidal conspiracy, the grand larceny of glimmering jewels and a rather luscious gentlewoman named, lest the point be missed, Lady Godiva. Hijinks, japes, jests and jousts ensue. The specifics are beside the point, for a Fraser novel is an excuse to indulge in goofery. This book, as the narrator says, presents “an all-star cast of steely-eyed heroes, noble ladies, unspeakable villains, gorgeous wantons, corrupt creeps, maniacs, freebooters, freeloaders, and hordes of colourful extras, in a variety of Great Locations.” He left out the Spanish torturers, twisting their waxed mustachios in evil glee, and a few discards from the cast of Braveheart, but Fraser’s catalog about covers it. As if this were all not enough, this, like any Fraser novel, is a battlefield littered with dead puns (of two hanged cows, for instance, “ye couldnae tell one frae the udder”), obvious names (“the reigning Scottish Traitor of the Year, Lord Anguish”) and tattered bodices (“where petrified soldiery had stood, there were now forty voluptuous dancing girls in gauzy trousers and flimsy veils, undulating in beauteous bewilderment”).
Fans of Fraser know what they’re in for—and they’ll have a grand romp.