|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (March 2009)|
The space opera series is set in the 31st century, during the waning days of the Terran Empire. Flandry is a dashing field agent of the Imperial Intelligence Corps who travels the stars to fight off imminent threats to the empire from both external enemies and internal treachery. His long-time archenemy is Aycharaych, a cultured but ruthless telepathic spymaster who weaves plots for the expansionistic rival empire of the alien Merseians.
The illegitimate son of a minor nobleman, Flandry rises to considerable power within the decadent Empire by his own wits, and enjoys all the pleasures his position in society gives him. Still he is painfully conscious of the impending fall of the Terran Empire and the subsequent "Long Night" of a galactic dark age. His career is dedicated to holding it off for as long as possible. In time, he passes the mantle to his daughter Diana, who is also illegitimate.
Flandry is willing to disregard conventional morality and use his foes' tactics against them. He can cheerfully deceive, seduce, and blackmail; in A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, he orders the mind-probing of his traitorous illegitimate son, reducing him to a vegetative state, and bombards Aycharaych's uninhabited homeworld into radioactive ruin in part for vengeance, as Aycharaych's latest plot had resulted in the death of the woman he loved and planned to marry.
- Ensign Flandry (1966)
- A Circus of Hells (1970)
- The Rebel Worlds (1969)
- A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (1974)
- A Stone in Heaven (1979)
- The Game of Empire (1985)
- Agent of the Terran Empire (1965) consisting of the short stories "Tiger by the Tail", "The Warriors from Nowhere", "Honorable Enemies" and "Hunters of the Sky Cave".
- Flandry of Terra (1965) containing "The Game of Glory", "A Message in Secret" and "The Plague of Masters".
- Young Flandry (2009), combining the novels Ensign Flandry, A Circus of Hells and The Rebel Worlds.
- Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire (2010), combining the short stories "Outpost of Empire", "The Day of Their Return", "Tiger by the Tail", "Honorable Enemies", "The Game of Glory" and "A Message in Secret".
- Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra (2010), combining the short stories "The Plague of Masters", "Hunters of the Sky Cave", "The Warriors from Nowhere" and the novel A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows.
- Flandry's Legacy (2011), combining the novels A Stone in Heaven' and 'The Game of Empire.
In other works
He also appears – with Anderson's permission – in the novel The Dark Dimensions (1971), part of the John Grimes series written by A. Bertram Chandler. There, Flandry crosses over into Chandler's Rim Worlds and meets Chandler's Commodore Grimes (the two fail to like each other).
"The Day of Their Return" is related to the Flandry saga though he does not appear in it – being a sequel to 'The Rebel Worlds' depicting how the planet Aeneas and its inhabitants fared after Flandry ended his mission there and went elsewhere.
And "Outpost of Empire" features the same kind of crisis which Flandry is normally sent to deal with – a planet torn by the clash of humans and non-humans and of competing human cultures, with Merseia stirring up the pot – but in this case it is resolved by a professor, with an academic approach different from Flandry's (though he too can take bold and decisive action).
While still a cadet, Flandry seduced the girlfriend of a fellow trainee named Fenross. The girl was not very attractive and Flandry was not particularly smitten with her; in later times he could hardly remember her name ("Majorie or something like that"). After Flandry dropped her, the girl became "very wild" and was killed in an accident on Venus. Fenross, who had cared for her very much, never looked at another woman afterwards and never forgave Flandry. Being promoted faster, Fenross became an admiral and Flandry's direct superior, and kept doing all he could to get Flandry killed. Flandry admitted that Fenross had a legitimate grudge, but did manage to survive all the very dangerous missions on which Fenross kept sending him.
Similar to the James Bond stories (which started two years later), every new adventure brings Flandry another beautiful damsel to woo and rescue. The women are of many different backgrounds – Queens and haughty aristocrats as well as slaves and peasants, courtesans as well as blushing virgins, and at least one alluring non-human female; but they all tend to be brave, intelligent and resourceful and to lend significant help to the success of Flandry's mission. Many of the adventures end with a sad and painful scene where Flandry, his mission over, departs and leaves behind yet another heartbroken woman, saying things like "It would never work out, better that I leave before a bright memory becomes tarnished"  and "I'm just not the forever-and-ever sort, and less than that would be unfair to you, lass"  and "I'm as mossless a stone as you'l find in a universe of rolling". Sometimes Flandry tries to play fair and warn a woman from the outset that their affair would not last beyond his present mission – which only partly helps; and on some occasions he makes an effort on departure to get the current Flandry Girl settled down with a suitable male of her own planet and social millieu. And in one case, Flandry's current lover and partner gets gets herself and her entire family freed of slavery and settled on a piece of land, a suitable recompense for seeing him depart at the end of his mission.
Djana, the ex-prostitute who shares the young Flandry's illicit treasure-hunt and captivity among the Merseians in A Circus of Hell, had been deeply traumatized in early life and is correspondingly more deeply hurt than others at the termination of their relationship. On departure she leaves Flandry with a curse: "I guess I can't stop you from having nearly any woman who comes by. But I'l wish this, that you never get the one you really want". At the time, Flandry shrugs it off ("Women! The aliens among us") – but Djana's curse comes all too true. In The Rebel Worlds Flandry falls head over heels in love with Kathryn McCormac, wife of the rebel Admiral Hugh McCormac. For once, he does very much want to be "the forever-and-ever sort", and in order to have Kathryn he is even willing to betray his oath to the Empire and join her husband's foredoomed rebellion. But Kathryn – though far from indifferent to Flandry's charms – remains steadfastly loyal to her husband, and eventually chooses to join his exile far outside the Empire's boundaries. In that case it is the heartbroken Flandry who is left behind, reduced to thinking "But she's happy. That's enough".
Also much later in life, a single other occasion when Flandry thought he had found an enduring love ended tragically, through the machinations of Flandry's arch-enemy Aycharaych – much as James Bond's single attempt at finding matrimonial bliss was terminated by Bond's own arch-enemy.
Flandry delights in making flippant, ironic remarks, such as:
- "I don't believe in false modesty, or even in real modesty" (Plague of Masters).
- "Some people don't appreciate the value of hypocrisy as a social lubricant" (The Rebel Worlds).
- "Great greasy comets, I might have been sitting in Everest House with a bucket of champagne, lying to some beautiful wench about my exploits, but no, I had to come to this planet and actually do 'em" (Message in Secret).
- "Am I really going to die here? There are wines and women and adventures yet to be undertaken. Death is the ultimate dullness!" (Plague of Masters)
- "What is civilization but an elaborate structure of special privileges?" (Hunters of the Sky Cave).
- "I was born under the Bar sinister. That is, my father used to frequent that very sinister bar..." (Hunters of the Sky Cave).
- "The Empire is currently in the early stages of decadence, which is the most agreeable time to inhabit: peace and pleasure, and the society not yet so far rotted that chaos sets in. You might say the Empire is a banana just starting to show brown spots..." (Warriors from Nowhere).
- "Those who most complain about decadence are historical philosophers who never had to do any of the actual fighting" (Warriors from Nowhere).
- "I'm not superstitious, I don't believe in curses and spooks, as I don't believe in the benevolence of governments" (Knight of Ghosts and Shadows).
- Poul Anderson at http://www.baen.com/ Retrieved 20-10-2010
- To Queen Gunli of Scotcha in Tiger by the Tail
- To Catherine "Kit" Kitteredge in Warriors from Nowhere
- To Luang in A Plague of Masters
- Bourtai Ivanska in A message in Secret
- Tessa Hoorn in The Game of Glory, Bourtai Ivanska in A message in Secret"
- Ella McIntyre in Warriors From Nowhere
- In On Her Majesty's Secret Service
- Poul Anderson's Future Histories, by Dr Paul Shackley
- Dominic Flandry series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Wagner, Thomas M. (1997). "ENSIGN FLANDRY". sfReviews. "This book kicks ass!"