"Marguerite bowed her head in silence. There was nothing more she could say, no plea that she could urge. Indeed, she had understood, as he had begged her to understand. She understood that long ago he had mapped out the course of his life, and now that the course happened to lead up to a Calvary of humiliation and suffering he was not likely to turn back, even though, on the summit, death was already waiting and beckoning with no uncertain hand; not until he could murmur, in the wake of the great and divine sacrifice, the sublime words, 'It is accomplished.'"
~El Dorado, chapter 29
Now, I'm one of those people who doesn't like to overuse the word "epic". I get annoyed when it's used to describe everything, from pool parties to carpet shampoo to dog treats. I overuse the word myself with astonishing frequency, but I am also one of those people who contradicts herself a lot, so bear with me, 'kay?
Where was I? El Dorado. Right.
If you've seen TSP82, you already know part of the story of El Dorado. The movie was based on two books-- El Dorado and the original novel The Scarlet Pimpernel. The movie, IMHO, combined the best of both books and even threw in some elements that weren't in the books (but were epic nonetheless). But this isn't a review of TSP82. It's a review of El Dorado. And it will abound in spoilers. Just so you know.
Armand St. Just, beloved brother of Marguerite Blakeney (nee St. Just) is in a bit of a quandary when the story begins. He is in the dangerous city of Paris in January 1794, and he is under strict orders from his chief, the enigmatic Scarlet Pimpernel, not to renew any of his old friendships while he awaits a meeting with the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel to plan their rescue of the young Dauphin. Foolishly, Armand chooses to disregard his leader's orders and goes to the theater with his old friend the Baron de Batz, where he stupidly reveals to de Batz the fact that he's in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel and simultaneously falls head-over-heels in love with an actress, Jeanne L'ange. (I am exerting great willpower at this point and not going into a long harangue about the stupidity of Armand's falling in love with a woman after hearing her speak two lines in play, not to mention the stupidity of Armand in general for not listening to his commander, not to mention--- yes, yes, I'll stop.)
Armand, of course, made a great mistake in disobeying Sir Percy (if you're reading this blog, you already know that Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel, right?) and his punishment doesn't take long to arrive. The Baron de Batz, an emissary for the Austrian government and concerned only with lining his own pocket, reports Armand to the Committee of Public Safety--namely, to Citizens Heron and... are you ready for this?... Chauvelin. Cue the music from Jaws, please.
Now, I am one of those unworthy beings who actually--gulp--felt sorry for Chauvelin in the movie. Yes. I did. But you can put down the rotten tomatoes now, please, because this book changed my entire viewpoint. Because what Chauvelin does in this book makes me ready to jerk him off the page and strangle him. Literally. I hate this guy. Hate is a strong word, but Chauvelin is a strong bad guy. He has to be, to be able to capture Sir Percy. I mean, hello.
Oops. I just gave away a rather important little tidbit of the plot, but perhaps this will serve to tantalize you into reading the book. :) Yes, you read that right--as a result of The Reckless Armand, Sir Percy gets captured and dumped in the Temple prison. I'll wait while you run for your smelling salts. Got them? Okay, we'll proceed.
Please don't despair. This book has a happy ending. (If it didn't, I wouldn't be reviewing it-- or if I did, it would be a "I hate Baroness Orczy and I hate this book and I hate the publishers for daring to print such heresy" post.) But, naturally, as we have come to expect from our beloved Sir Percy, the story features heart-stopping events that will bring you to the edge of your seat, with sweaty palms and a pounding heart, wondering if just maybe this time he won't come out okay...
Suspenseful? Yes. Heartbreaking? Yes. Sob-inducing? Yes. Amazing, wonderful, knock-your-socks-off, use-up-a-whole-box-of-tissues-ish? Yes. Incredible? Yes. Sir Percy Blakeney at his ultimate and absolute best? YES, YES, YES.
Just... go read it. Right now.