Flashman’s Lady takes place between the two parts of Royal Flash, making it the third book chronologically of the Flashman Papers and the sixth book published.
Flashman and his wife, Elspeth, become friendly with Don Solomon Haslam, a rich merchant from the East Indies. Losing a wager to Haslam, who is smitten with Elspeth, Flashy has to let Haslam take Elspeth and her father on a trip to Singapore. As things have become hot for him in England, he sails east with them. Haslam’s feelings for Elspeth are deeper than Flashman had realized and Haslam kidnaps her, at which point Flashman learns that Haslam is wealthy because he’s a pirate chief from Borneo. James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, leads an expedition into the rivers of Borneo to rescue Elspeth, and Flashman must reluctantly tag along.
After an unsatisfactorily explained interlude, Flashman and Elspeth land in Madagascar, where he is enslaved at the court of the despotic Queen Ranavalona. Flashman survives by becoming the queen’s latest bedmate and the Sergeant-General of her army, drilling them to a fare-thee-well. After months of terror, he overcomes his cowardice and they make a successful escape.
The two halves of the book are individually satisfying but they do not hang together well. The first part is the better; the second adds little to the Flashman œuvre.