This is the book to get you pumped about studying Indian history.
What began as a mutiny of Indian soldiers in Meerut, Uttar Pradash, The Republic of India became The Indian Rebellion of 1857 which spread through Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and the area around Delhi – some of the stinkiest places on earth. The downtrodden Indians got to enjoy some old-fashioned “Killing of the British” before getting involved with extracurricular Indian-on-Indian violence with Sikhs and the rest of the Punjab backing the oppressors in what turned out to be a quality civil war which literally resulted in the death of millions.
Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old officer, recorded his experience:
It was literally murder... I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered, were most painful... Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that man's heart I think who can look on with indifference...
Against the backdrop of gore and tragedy, this book goes to the heart of the history and is about Flashman getting it on with a sweet Indian babe, Queen Rani Lakshmi Bai [pictured], while everyone dies around him - writing historical fiction about dudes scoring with in-real-life royalty seems to bit weird when you stop and think about it (note to self: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip royal erotica).
Queen Rani looks on top of her game in the artistic interpretation of her being at Flashman’s mercy and I’m sure that that was enough to get the hearts and loins of pale Englishman racing in the middle of last century. The Indian version of her paints her in a somewhat more realistic light. The very non-fiction General Hugh Rose, who features prominently in the fiction, commented that the Rani, was "remarkable for her beauty, cleverness and perseverance" so she seems to get good reviews. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying this, but the more likely picture of her would have to be that of a hairy and unwashed woman with poor nutrition living in a third-world country – the perfect foil for the colonial pseudo-rape fantasy which George MacDonald Fraser often dishes up (to be fair, I think this is probably the Flashman book least likely to incite a sexual assault which might be reason to stay away, up to you – no judgement here).
The book cheapens the history a bit by attributing the mutiny solely to the use of pig (or cow depending on your particular religious prohibition) grease in ammunition which drove the silly little Indians mad due to their crazy culture and religious ‘beliefs’ - reality is that there were likely to have been many causes such as the favouring of the supposedly 'high-caste' Bengalese as officers, and concerns about the Hindu and Muslim soliders being forced to convert to Christianity, even though the ammunition grease aspect was apparently an element [despite being false].
We read about Flashman [spoiler alert] nearly dying in a number of famous battles including the Siege of Cawnpore, the Siege of Lucknow and at Gwalior, where the killing and maiming of literally thousands of innocent people is the author’s backdrop for vaguely factually accurate boys-own-adventure erotica.
This is the book for you if you enjoy learning shallow facts about exotic locations to help you in pub trivia, the mocking of war heroes and brave leaders, and the exploitation of women.