Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flashman at the Charge - Chapter 9

The occupants of the cell Flashman was thrown into at the end of chapter 8 of Flashman at the Charge, play a much larger role in chapter 9.

Central asia, and the area Flashman is in seems to be either Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, in the middle part of the 19th century was still a wild place and the two men in Flashman's cell were important figures in that wild region. The one chained to the ceiling was Yakub Beg, is a highly born, well regarded military commander in the Syr Daria area, he and the other cell mate get an appendix at the end of Flashman at the Charge all to themselves. The other man is Izzar Kutebar; a bandit leader and guerilla fighter, and although the two men have their differences, they are allies at present and close friends, as evidenced by their banter, which Flashman knows is a sign of respect and friendship amongst the Ghazis.

Once they know Flashman isn't a Russki as they call the Russians, they welcome him as an ally. Beg keeps talking about a rescue and someone he refers to as the Silk One, Flashman thinks he's raving, but surely enough when night falls the camp is attacked and Flashman and Kutebar are forced to fight for their lives in the dungeon. Flashman remarks that he's a veteran of dungeon fights, referencing things that take place in Flashman and Royal Flash.

The three men are ultimately liberated by forces led by someone who appears to Flashman to be a slightly built turbaned boy. The boy is called the Silk One and appears to be some sort of lover to Beg. Flashman knows that same sex relationships are no uncommon amongst men in the area and while he personally doesn't go in for that sort of thing he allows each to their own. The shock comes when the Silk One tries to thank Harry for his part in keeping Beg safe and he attempts to reject the advances thinking it is a boy, then realises once the body is pressed against him that this is very much a woman!

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