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Black Ajax


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In the spirit of Flashman and in the inimitable George MacDonald Fraser style comes a rousing story of prize fighting in the 19th century. Reissued in a stunning new package, Black Ajax will attract a new generation of fans. When Captain Buck Flashman sees the black boxer catch a fly in mid-flight he realizes that he is in the presence of speed such as the prize ring has never seen. Tom Molineaux may be crude and untutored, but if 'Mad Buck' knows anything (and like his notorious son, the archcad Harry Flashman, he has an unerring eye for the main chance), this ex-slave from America is a Champion in the making, on whose broad shoulders the ambitious Captain can climb to sporting and social fame. Under his patronage, the 'Black Ajax' is carried on a popular tide of sporting fever to his great dream: to fight the invincible, undefeated Champion of England, the great Tom Cribb. The story of Molineaux and his eventual battles with Cribb is told through a series of superbly original and individual voices -- colourful, powerful and funny. Together they create a magnificent picture of Regency England and a portrait of a flawed hero who surmounted the barriers of ignorance, poverty and race hatred to bring the prize ring a lustre it had never known before, and may never again. / Black Ajax was a top ten Sunday Times bestseller / A wonderful new package of 'The Pyrates' to be reissued to coincide with the publication of 'The Reavers', the new hardback from George MacDonald Fraser / This is a book that will be greeted with eager arms by the thousands of devoted MacDonald Fraser fans, as well as a book that will attract legions of new readers

About the Author

The author of the famous `Flashman Papers' and the `Private McAuslan' stories, George MacDonald Fraser has worked on newspapers in Britain and Canada. In addition to his novels he has also written numeous films, most notably `The Three Musketeers', `The Four Musketeers', and the James Bond film, `Octopussy'. George Macdonald Fraser died in January 2008 at the age of 82.


Taking a break from his delightful series about the Victorian scoundrel Harry Flashman, Fraser gives us a superb novel about Tom Molineaux, a freed slave from Virginia who was a boxing sensation in the early days of the sport in Regency England. Fraser's encyclopedic knowledge of 19th-century British mores and slang and his splendid eye for period color have never been put to better use. He tells the story of Molineaux through a series of narrators: Molineaux's trainer and second; contemporary boxing journalists; Flashman's rakish father, who takes up Tom's cause for a time; his childhood sweetheart; a lascivious footman; and others. All of them are characterized with a perfect ear for their particular diction‘and, for those taken aback by the authentic vernacular, there is a useful glossary. The portrait of Molineaux‘vain, strutting, childlike, at once hugely courageous and profoundly vulnerable‘is memorable. Has there ever been a more vivid picture of the thrills and horrors of the early bare-knuckle boxing days, when the sport was at once illegal and a national obsession? For anyone interested in the period, in the place of a black man in a highly stratified society and in a compelling story of courage and ultimate sorrow, this is the book. (Apr.)

'Mr Fraser is a great historical novelist and in Black Ajax he is at the very top of his form. Damme if he ain't.' Christopher Matthew, Daily Mail 'This is not a flashy novel, wearing its learning noisily. It's rigorous, intelligent, meticulously horrifying. Wonderfully well done.' Nicci Gerrard, Observer

The author of the popular "Flashman Papers" series, Fraser has established a reputation as a master of historical fiction. His latest effort, based in fact, chronicles the brief career of a black American boxer in Regency England. Tom Molineaux was a freed slave who challenged England's champion, Tom Cribb, twice. Molineaux finds a patron in Captain Buckley "Mad Buck" Flashman (father of the Flashman of Fraser's novels), and he quickly begins to attract attention, gaining notice even from the Prince Regent. Fraser tells the boxer's sad tale through the reports of various witnesses whose lives intersected with that of Molineaux, revealing the attitudes and prejudices of a raucous society not quite ready to have a black man become champion of England. Fans of historical fiction will revel in Fraser's effortless re-creation of the Regency period, and for those unfamiliar with Regency cant, there is a glossary to explain what phrases like "dicked in the nob" and "pattering the flash" mean. Highly recommended where historical fiction and Fraser's works are popular.‘Dean James, Murder by the Book, Houston

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