Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sir Percy Leads the Band - Baroness Emmuska Orczy

sir percy leads the band
baroness emmuska orczy
c. 1937
316 pages
completed 1/27/2010

read for: french revolution mini challenge, what's in a name challenge, scarlet pimpernel series

*may contain spoilers*

The Hall of the Pas Perdus, the precincts of the House of Justice, the corridors, the bureaux of the various officials, judges, and advocates were all thronged that day as they had been during all the week, ever since Tuesday when the first question was put to the vote: "Is Louis Capet guilty of conspiring against liberty?"

Unfortunately, we already know the answer to that question, at least in the minds of those presiding over Louis Capet's trial, is "yes." And so the King is sentenced to death by guillotine, and there is nothing anyone can do, not even someone as daring and elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel. That being said, the Abbé called to administer to the King before his death is now in danger of being renounced as a traitor to the republic, and the Pimpernel and his League must spring to action in order to save him, no easy task as the Abbé is being hunted all over France. The Pimpernel seems to have enough on his plate as it is, but the League is about to discover they may have their own traitor in their midst...

Okay! Book two of the Scarlet Pimpernel series. In all actuality this was written almost thirty years later than the original. The series was written out of chronological order. Some people, I'm sure, read them in the order in which they were written, but I have always been a slave to chronological order and so have to read them that way or not at all.

While not quite as good as the original, this installment was a lot of fun. Percy's many disguises, each more over the top and ridiculous than the last, are always exciting to discover. The action was pretty consistent so there were no sections that dragged along. Percy's one confrontation with Chauvelin was pretty funny. I could just imagine Chauvelin's blind rage at being flung over Percy's shoulder and being hauled down to the cellar like a sack of potatoes, and that ridiculous image alone almost made me laugh out loud.

I really like the character of Percy. He's witty and ridiculous (how many times can I use that word in this review?), the most quintessential fop imaginable, even when holed up in a shack wearing rags and sharing a stale loaf of bread with his comrades. That being said, he still cares a great deal for honor, something shown very much in his dealings with St. John Devinne. While I like the comedy his foppishness brings, it's nice to see his serious side poke through every once in a while.

I did very much notice the absence of Marguerite. One thing I loved so much about the original was the love and tension between Percy and Marguerite, but she was completely absent from this episode and I definitely missed the dynamic of their relationship. I am looking forward to more of her as I continue with the series. I believe at one point she becomes a member of the League herself (at least according to Wikipedia) so I know I will get to see her again. The lack of Marguerite was my only real complaint with the book. Other than that, it was exactly what I wanted from a Scarlet Pimpernel novel.



Beth F said...

I love the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I read the first one long ago, but I don't think I read any of the others. You've gotten me interested in him again.

Veronica said...

Beth, This is only the second one I've read, but like I said it was almost as good as the first. So if you liked the first one, the second is no disappointment. Here's hoping the rest are as good. :)