Saturday, 11 April 2015

Review: The Secret of the Bastille by Paul Féval, fils and M. Lassez

I've now progressed to the third book in my read-through of Paul Féval and M. Lassez's The Years Between series. This is a 4-part series where they take the famous characters (more or less loosely based on real historical people) created by Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Rostand, namely d'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac. The events of the series take place in-between Dumas' The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, in 1641.

The third novel continues directly from the events of the second novel and thus the following review will contain spoilers for those not familiar with the story. If you don't want to be spoiled, you can jump directly to the last paragraph.

Although Cyrano and d'Artagnan are important characters in the story, the focal point of the story is actually the so-called Mysterious Cavalier, aka Cavalier Tancrêde. He is a 16-year-old youth trying to find out the secret of his birth and his rightful place amongst the European nobility. Cyrano and Tancrêde became fast friends while d'Artagnan's position remained less clear. At the end of the second novel, Cavalier Tancrêde's youthful enthusiasm has gotten him into the worst possible place: imprisoned in the Bastille.

The third part of the story takes place mainly in and around Bastille. Inside, Tancrêde is being interrogated by the tricky traitor Vauselle while outside Cyrano takes his time realising where his friend has ended up and then tries to come up with a plan to save him. In the meanwhile, d'Artagnan knows more than he is able to reveal to any party and he is forced to step carefully in order to not betray his King, but still help the Queen as best he can.

This time around the story is more focussed than in the previous two parts and there is less annoyance from surprising and unbelievable coincidences - but some of them still insist on making an appearance. Turning a blind eye to these is getting increasingly difficult as the series continues, but if you can ignore them, this is still a very gripping adventure. Well worth a read to a any fan of historical adventures set in the 17th century!

3.5/5

P.S. It should be noted that I read the 1929 Finnish translation of the story.