Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: El Dorado

"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

This book defines the word "epic".

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.

15 comments:

Maria Elisabeth said...

When I read this I was under the mistaken impression that it only went to chapter 25, which would leave Marguerite only enough time to run over to Paris and have a hearbreaking last farewell with Percy. I seriously thought my life would be ruined.

Anna said...

Spoilers!!!!
Funny you should write this review since I just finished this book this afternoon! I just wanted to cry for poor Percy not being able to sleep. It was just awful awful. It just points out how incredible and amazing Sir Percy is that even in exhaustion he has a brilliant mind.
And when Armand comes to him and tells him about Jeanne but Percy already knows and then Percy still trusts him and Armand recklessly goes off. Percy. is. AMAZING. His self control is incredible. He is also understanding, because Percy remarks how he understands why Armand runs off because he wouldn't trust Marguerite with anyone else either.
And I'll just sum up the book: Percy at his best!!

Alexandra said...

THIS IS THE MOST EPIC BOOK EVER, AND DEFINITELY THE BEST OF ALL THE TSP BOOKS, WORLD WITHOUT END. THE END.

I can't gush about this book enough. First off, that's my FAVORITE quote in the whole book, from my favorite scene. As you know. And you are so right about TSP1982, BTW. Anyway.

Do not speak to me of Armand at this time. His fool's errand kept him most occupied, most occupied indeed...ha! Aaaanyyyyhooooz. ugh, I hate him. Anyway. :-P

And Chauvelin is rotten to his very core. Yup.

And Percy is soooooooo amazing. ACK, I'm having a major fan moment. What am I saying? My life is a perpetual major fan moment. Anyway! This is even more so.

I LOVE this book. I love how it combines the best of everything...there's plenty of Marguerite, plenty of drama, lots of heart-stopping awesome romance (prison scene, EEEEEEEEP!!!!!!!), and most of all, TONS of Percy. Like, the most of all the books, I think. And we get a huge chunk of the story from Percy's POV, which I think is one of the only times in the TSP series that we get it. And Marguerite is on top of her game as far as "super supportive wife he can trust to take care of things" in this one. They're so *PERFECT* in this one. I mean, it's just....

Yeah. I love it desperately. The only thing that could be improved is if it had the Two Things in TSP1982...you know. But other than that...amazing. Percy all worn and sleepless is awesome. Did I say that all ready? Yeah. Sorry. I mean...I have the prison scene practically memorized. My book falls open automatically to that part. I just love it.

I really have to go now. Really do. Before I go into raptures again..

PS. And this is the book where Ii can hear AA and JS the most. Probably because most of the book was in TSP82. But anyway. SIGHHHHH............

OH! THE LETTER!!!! ACK! And the very last line in the book sets me to positive SQUEALING every time. SIGH.

I AM REALLY GOING NOW.

Natasha Marie said...

Anything I say would be anticlimactic...especially coming after Alexandra's comment. *big grin*

So I'll confine myself to this...
I agree 100% - BEST MOST EPIC TSP BOOK EVER. PERIOD.

Miss Dashwood said...

Maria,
Oooooh no! Oh, dear, that would be awful! Wow, I'm shuddering just thinking about how it would be if the book ended at chapter 25.... ugh.

Anna,
Oh, I know! Chauvelin is a rat, a snake, a warthog, a weasel, a cobra... okay, I'll stop. Poor Percy. I have always been of the opinion that NOTHING would EVER get him down, etc., etc., but it's just a testimony to how wonderful and awesome he is that he DID get taken down, but he came back up again. Yep. Percy at his best. :D

Ally,
Hahaha, that Up quote fits Armand. Yes indeedy. Ohhhh, yes, I forgot to talk about how much I liked Marguerite in this book! I knew there was something I left out! She's amazing in this one. Absolutely amazing. Wimp? Say not the word! (I take back everything I ever said against her.)

Natasha,
So glad you agree. Everybody should read this book. It should be required reading in schools. :D

Lydia said...

i want to read these books sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but i don't think my library has them! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! breathe. Lydia, just breathe...you'll find them somehow! even if it takes you all your life!!!!!!!! YOU WILL FIND THEM!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I started reading ED, but I put it down for a while. (Why, I have NO idea... my silly self...) Arg. I already decided to read it again, but now I'm going to have to bump it up on my book list. And just after the prison scene that actually almost made me cry. *sigh* Did anyone mention that Sir Percy is AWESOME?!?!?!?!

Eowyn

Hayden said...

Why can I not find a hard copy of this book anywhere???? My love of Sir Percy may soon overcome my hatred of e-books...

Miss Dashwood said...

If you lived a little closer to me, Hayden, I'd be happy to lend you mine! As it is, I'd recommend listening to it on Librivox.org, which is free and the narrator has a delightful British accent!

Melody said...

Hahaha... when I read "This book defines the word 'epic,'" I burst out with the most enormous snicker-snort you have ever heard. (At least that would have been the case, if you had heard it.) And my sister was standing there talking to Mamma, and said "Why is that funny??" and I just shook my head and waved at the computer screen, and Mamma said "Oh, she's always laughing about something on there."

Heh.

Abound in spoilers? Should I be reading this? Weelll... I saw the movie so I guess I can. :D

Hahahaha, I collect you aren't the biggest fan of Almond. I mean Armand.

Chauvelin again? Sigh. >.<

Oooh, but good, now you hate Chauvelin. *satisfied sigh*

(Haha, Maria Elisabeth, for all my TSP inadequacies, you should have heard me anti-defending Chauvelin when Miss Dashwood and I were watching it a while back... Well, seen me. It was in an e-mail.
At least I presume you must not feel sorry for Chauvelin, or Amy wouldn't have said the thing about tomatoes. But of course, that could just be presumptuous.)

Ooh! You mean the capture of Sir Percy doesn't happen in TSP?? Good. Now I'm not living--er,reading--in dread.

I somehow doubt that one who is swooning could run to get their own smelling salts, deary.

Heh... it would probably be most prudent for me NOT to tell you that our library system does indeed have this book... ;)

One of these days you just ought to send me an entire list of the books you think I need to read and I will work away at it for the next 20 years. =)

Anyways. (I said that again!) I enjoyed the review, Amy dear. But then, what did I expect?

Melody said...

*Facepalm*
What I SHOULD have said was:
Oooh, good, you hate Chauvelin now.
That is the general idea.

Ooh! Miss Dashwood and Maria Elisabeth, I wish for your opinion: What TSP trailer do you think is the best? Can you give me a link or two? I would be much obliged.

Maria Elisabeth said...

Oh, Melody, you poor, stubborn, lucky girl. Your library has it? You should be squealing in delight and going to read it immediately.

And as to Chauvelin and tomatoes, I put them away (the tomatoes, not the guy :P) a while ago when I read Sir Percy Hits Back. Which, for Amy's information, is also That Individual at his ultimate and absolute best.

Oh wait, I'm taking my tomatoes back out and pelting them at Chauvelin because seeing That Individual at his ultimate and absolute best wasn't enough to reform him. I am very vexed. Teasing, teasing man!

And as to the trailers, I don't know which are best so just show whoever you're going to show all of them. Or, better yet, drag them over and force them to watch the movie. If you'd rather not drag them yourself I am quite at your service. :D

Melody said...

Maria Elisabeth,
Well, I only just finished TSP Last Night. You may not think that too early to be putting El Dorado on hold, but alas, I do. Especially since I have such a long list of to-reads.
And anyhow, I am not stubborn because I DO intend to read it before too terribly long. Though I have a feeling I'm going to be terribly annoyed by Armand. >.<

Anyways, I did love TSP; the ending made me laugh and cry in turn, and you have my official permission to be proud of me. :P Heehee, kidding.

In point of fact, the purpose for which I want a trailer is the movies page on my blog, because back when I made that I hadn't seen TSP yet, so I need to add it now. And I link the DVD cover picture to a trailer for all of them that have a trailer. But I need One in Particular to do that. I could just link it to a review instead, I suppose. But I'm a trailer maniac. Heh, heh. >:D

Though perhaps I could just put a note on there-- "I don't have a trailer for you, so instead go talk to Maria Elisabeth and she will drag you over and force you to watch the movie, which will do just as well."

HAHAHAHA.

Ahem.

Miss Dashwood said...

Trailer link for Melody:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwymEjWX_fM

Anonymous said...

I just read El Dorado recently and it was THE MOST suspenseful book I have ever read! I was prepared to be horribly put out with the authoress if Percy died, but thankfully there was no need for such drastic measures. :)
Oh, and I picked up a new word while I was reading it - soughing. How poetic, "the wind soughing through the trees..." I could just hear it happening!
Oh, and I was pretty miffed with Armand myself, but his actions made me love Sir Percy all the more as he forgave Armand for his disobedience. It seems like he is a very forgiving person - I am thinking of a similar occurence in Sir Percy Leads the Band.

~Lily of the Valley