Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Review: State Secret (D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled, #1) by Paul Féval, fils

I've previously reviewed Paul Féval, fils' and M. Lassez' The Years Between series that saw d'Artagnan meet up with Cyrano de Bergerac and go on adventures with each other. A few years later, Paul Féval decided to revisit the characters and wrote a trilogy that is known as D'Artagnan and Cyrano Reconciled. The story is set after Alexandre Dumas' Twenty Years After and spans the years between 1649 and 1655.

The story of the first volume of the trilogy shows us how the Queen ask d'Artagnan for a little service (don't know many stories that don't begin with her asking d'Artagnan for something). This time around, her request has to do with George, who is the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham and Anne of Austria, and who is coming to Paris to meet his mother in secret. Suspecting that the devious Cardinal Mazarin might already know about the plan, d'Artagnan and Cyrano de Bergerac are given the responsibility of escorting young George and his wife to Paris.

The novel has a bit of a shaky start, or at least I felt it difficult to get into it, but Féval soon gets the action going and the rest of the first book zips past very quickly. D'Artagnan and de Bergerac plot and fall victim to plots in quick order, but they both also have time to woo pretty ladies and enjoy wine and good food on their adventures. The characterisations are good - better than I expected based on the earlier stories from Féval and Lassez - and there was only one annoyingly unexplained plot twist.


And that plot twist is pretty annoying. Mazarin has kidnapped George and is holding him prisoner. The Queen knows this and goes to his palace to confront him. Mazarin asks his servants to torture George so that he'll scream loudly enough for the Queen to hear. Upon hearing these cries, the Queen is understandably panicked. But then... Mazarin uses this opportunity to profess his undying love for the Queen and she looks upon him fondly and then they end up in bed together. Later, he lies that it wasn't actually George who was tortured but someone else and this fully satisfies the Queen of his character.

Overall, if one manages to ignore the plot twist, the story gets to a good start here. If not taken too seriously, it is a fun little adventure and promises of more to come.