Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Farewell to Fraser

Sad news: I learned via The Evil DM that George MacDonald Fraser had passed on. Besides being an extremely distant, distant relative (and one whom certainly I never met), Fraser was best-known for his Flashman books, which took the villain from Tom Brown's Schooldays and turned him into a despicable, sex-crazed, immoral, cowardly, and yes, lovable, anti-hero that showed up everywhere from the Zulu Wars to Custer's Last Stand.

Fraser had an amazing eye for historical detail; the footnotes denoting the crazy and near-unbelievable (but very real) historical figures are worth reading alone. Never did I come away from a Flashman novel but that I felt I knew more about some part of history then when I starting. And it was always a grand romp, too. I think the characterizations and events Fraser wrote about really influenced both my choices in historical reading, fiction, and even plots and characters for some of my RPGs.

The Flashman books are one of those books my dad and I can have a good conversation regarding--the love of history, the humor about life in the British Empire and the military, and the hilarious political incorrectness and sly pokes throughout the novels.

It's a solace that Flashy isn't going anywhere, the scoundrel. He'll stay on my bookshelf until Queen and Country call again, and it's time to lie, cheat, wench, and squirm into a "hero's duty" once more.


Dane of War said...

I was really saddened to hear of his passing, as well. Some of his non-Flashman work was also quite fantastic - Quartered Safe Out Here and The Hollywood History of the World: From One Million Years B.C. to Apocalypse Now are two such examples.

As far as his Flashman novels, Flashman and the Redskins is perhaps my very favorite.

Zachary The First said...

And The Pyrates and McAuslan In The Rough...wow!