Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: The First Sir Percy by Baroness Orczy

It's been a while since I reviewed Emmuska Orczy's The Laughing Cavalier. The First Sir Percy is a sequel that picks up the events very soon after the end of the first volume. Set in March, 1624, it explores the events that surrounded the Spanish invasion of that year, although this serves mostly as a setting and most of the action is based on a single location.

The hero of the story, Sir Percy Blakeney aka Diogenes, starts the story by wedding his beloved, Gilda, from the first novel, but his plans to move to England are interrupted when he has to set off on an urgent mission to prepare the armies of Maurice of Nassau to stop the Spanish invaders. He is joined by Gilda's brother, who - quite obviously to anyone who read the first book - is tagging along just to be able to betray Diogenes at the first possible opportunity. Diogenes' old enemy, Lord of Stoutenburg, also makes a return as a turncoat who is supporting the Spanish invaders.

Overall, the story is simpler than the one in the first novel. It seems to take only a few days and most scenes take place in and around a single town. It feels like the author needed to milk a small event into a novel and that makes for many long-winded scenes where nothing very important happens. And when some action finally takes place, it is told and repeated from so many different viewpoints that it loses all possible inertia; one character did this, this character didn't quite see what happened, and that character was further away doing his own thing, but saw that people seemed to get excited etc.

The mood is light and the story melo-romantic, there are some funny side characters having trouble with calculus and the bad guys are truly evil. This makes for a light and relatively fun reading if you are able to forgive the plodding storytelling style and the dearth of a good plot. Unfortunately, the novel does not compare to the first part and feels a somewhat unnecessary addition.