Flashman & the Cobra
Brightwell’s protagonist is Thomas Flashman, uncle to the notorious Harry Flashman of “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” and George MacDonald Fraser’s novels.
After a memorable night in Paris with the Berkeley sisters, their father Lord Berkeley is after Flashman’s head. In order to escape the irate nobleman’s paid thugs, Flashman reluctantly agrees to carry a message on behalf of the British Government to the Raja of Berar in India. A seemingly simple mission, which becomes increasingly complicated and dangerous. Despite his best efforts to avoid any risk to his own person, Flashman finds himself embroiled in political intrigue, desperate escapes, fights with cut-throat brigands and finally, on the battlefields at Assaye and Gawilghur, where the young Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, makes his reputation as a victorious general in the Second Anglo-Mahratta War.
The author has researched the period very well and includes historical notes at the end of the book. A minor gripe is the cover illustration, which actually depicts the Anglo-Sikh War of 40 years later (which, ironically, was the subject of one of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels).
Think Sharpe, but with more humour and a self-confessed coward as the hero. An enjoyable historical romp!