Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 9:22 am
Horatio Hornblower? Wimp. Richard Sharpe? Peasant. When it comes to fictional British military figures, accept nothing less than Sir Harry Flashman.
Bully, coward, cad, thief and archenemy of decency everywhere, Flashman began life in Tom Brown's School Days, the 1857 novel by Thomas Hughes. Only in Fraser's hands, however, did he reach maturity, blossoming from mere adolescent bully to well-rounded adult scoundrel. Over 12 novels, Flashy commits all seven deadly sins across four continents. If there'd been glamorous, amorous babes in Antarctica, it would surely have been five.
Undoubtedly, tales of run-of-the-mill bravery have their place, but the grandeur of empire demands an epic villain. For this England, thankfully, there's this Lawrence of Amorality, this Duke of Wenchington. For he is a jolly bad fellow.