Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel

"Ah?" quoth Sir Percy airily.  "The inevitable has always been such a good friend to me."
~The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel, chapter 25

I'll admit, I picked up this book with mixed feelings.  Reading another adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel is always fun... but this novel happens to be the last in the series.  (I haven't yet read all the books in the series, because I haven't yet been able to lay hands on all of them in print format.  And don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into a litany enumerating the many reasons why everyone should read paper books and e-books should be boycotted.)  It's the last in the series, peeps.  The LAST of Percy's adventures.  The LAST of those death-defying, daring, dangerous, delightfully delicious escapades. The LAST of those suspenseful, hold-your-breath, oh-my-word-is-he-going-to-make-it-out-okay plot twists. The LAST time we see Percy and Marguerite together, being adorable as only they can be...

Now that I've thoroughly saddened you all and provoked a few tears, let's get on with the review.  Happy faces, please-- this is a happy book! Percy doesn't die! Yay! (Whoops.  Probably should have put a spoiler alert on that one. Because, you know, you didn't KNOW that he wasn't going to die... and then I ruined that for you.  Bummer.  I'm really soary.)

So it's 1794.  The Revolution is practically over (and puh-leese let's not turn this into a French history lesson, because I'm a bit hazy on all that, having not studied it in quite a while, and I just nodded and went, "that's nice" at the history parts in this book) but there are still people in trouble in France, and it's the job of Guess Who to get them out of the country. (Say hello to Sir Percy, everyone.  YAY PERCY.)

Unfortunately, it takes Percy several chapters to actually show up in the story, as usual. (Baroness, the suspense kills me every time---couldn't you produce him on the first page just once?  ONCE?) The story actually begins with several other characters: namely, Regine de Serval (a young woman who's had more than her fair share of hard times), Bertrand Moncrif (Regine's overly-impassioned sweetheart who wants nothing more than to see Robespierre kicked out of power), Theresia Cabarrus (a Spanish woman betrothed to Tallien, one of Robespierre's advisors--and she was a real person, by the way) and Citizen Rateau (a wheezing, asthmatic coal-digger who possesses a great deal of brawn and very little brain).

I'll warn you-- when Percy does eventually make his appearance, he's in disguise, and it takes an exceedingly clever and brilliant reader to discern who he is when he appears (I figured it out, but of course that is immaterial...).  Anyways, Bertrand publicly denounces Robespierre at a Fraternal Supper, despite Regine's remonstrances (this is where we all mimic Hortense in Bleak House and say, "you STUPID man!") and afterwards realizes just how much danger he's put himself into.  He flees to the house of Theresia Cabarrus, who has been a friend to him (and whom he pretty much worships, despite the fact that he's practically engaged to Regine--BOO, Bertrand) and who agrees to hide him temporarily from Robespierre.  But in the course of the evening, Bertrand is mysteriously spirited away from Theresia's apartments by none other than...

(all together, now)


*scary music*

Meanwhile, Robespierre is trying to convince Theresia to help him trap the elusive Pimpernel--no one has yet succeeded in this undertaking, not even that dude who goes by the name of Armand Chauvelin (yeppers, his real name is Armand.  Really creative, Baroness.  You ARE aware that there are other French names out there, right?  Like Paul?  Wait, is Paul a French name?  Never mind.)  This part (chapter 10, in case you were wondering) is delightful to read, because it makes fun of Chauvelin, and who doesn't want to make fun of Chauvelin?  "A man of no account," he is called, and rightly so, for time and time again he has failed to capture that accursed Englishman.

I won't spoil any more of the story for you, but I will say that Theresia caves and agrees to help find the Scarlet Pimpernel--and what follows is yet another testimony to Percy's incredible fortitude, bravery, cleverness and sheer hilarity.  Bookmark chapter 25 and reread it over and over again, m'dears, because it's the best of the best as far as Percy-wit goes.  Sink me.

"Which would have been a pity, my dear M. Chambertin," Blakeney rejoined gravely. "I should not like you to forget me.  Believe me, I have enjoyed life so much these past two years, I would not give up those pleasures even for that of seeing you and your friends have a bath or wear tidy buckles on your boots."

"You will have cause to indulge in those pleasures within the next few days, Sir Percy," Chauvelin rejoined drily.  

"What?" Sir Percy exclaimed.  "The Committee of Public Safety going to have a bath? Or the Revolutionary Tribunal?  Which?"
~chapter 25

And it all ends up happy, of course.  Since I already spoiled that for you, I may as well say it again.  There are sad things that happen, tragic things in fact, and one thing that is hinted at near the end that made me rather sad (eep, but I might just get the entire League of Leaguettes down on me for saying that), but it does end up happy.  Oh, and might I add that there's a good deal of Percy's-self-sacrificial-stuff manifesting itself in this book?  I'm dying to talk more about that, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, so I'll restrain myself, because I'm not supposed to ruin the story for you.  I'm supposed to write you a review--that's what I'm here for! Think you that I have sought your agreeable company for the mere pleasure of gazing at your amiable countenance?

.... Um, no offense.  That last bit was a Percy-to-Chauvelin quote, you know.  I just couldn't resist.


Alexandra said...

YAYAYAY! I was waiting for you to post this!

I loved this one. Ok, so when the back cover of mine was screaming the "LAST ADVENTURE OF TSP" I was like, uhhhh...Percy's gonna die. And I couldn't quite enjoy it the first time. :-P But it all ended ok, so that was good.

And Marguerite has a nice big part in it, hallelujah!!! And an ohhhhh soooooo sweet beginning...SNIFF. Can totally picture The Nest and everything. LOVE LOVE LOVE. SOOOO SWEEEEEEEEEEEEET.

And now I'm running off to refresh my memory on Sad Hints that you're talking about...

Ahhhh, yes. THAT hint. Well, he deserved it. :-P Besides, in a Certain Fanfic that Is In Progress, (teeeee-heee) he actually did NOT die. Hahaha. Did I mention that Sidekick is going to be the son of St. John Devinne? That came to me the other day. Anyway. :-P

So Percy was at his wittiest best in this one...and actually made a cravat comment! I was happy. And the end was really sweet.

OH, this made me laugh. So in the beginning when Theresa *SPOILERS* was all "ensnare TSP" and you're supposed to be all worried I'm like, SERIOUSLY? Like anyone is going to tempt him from Marguerite? Come ON, Baroness, NO ONE is going to swallow that one. :-P So that cracked me up. :-P

But yes...definitely one of my favorite TSP stories. Awesome. As usual. But then, why do I not have a surprised feeling?!

So yes. Love, love, love. :)

Maria Elisabeth said...

I'll just say that I'm deliciously delighted with this whole post. I'm supposed to be sleeping, so I won't gush now, but expect a long comment tomorrow!

Maria Elisabeth said...

Fortunately I didn't think Percy would die when I read this book. It's The TRIUMPH of the Scarlet Pimpernel, peoples. Not the triumph of Chauvelin. And chapter 10 was rather depressing. "Poor Chauvelin has no power now. Poor Percy doesn't have an enemy nearly worthy of him." That Which is Hinted in the end of the book shouldn't happen. Shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't.

Ooooooooooohhhhhh. Ally, are you really actually writing that? And does that mean it has the you-know-who's, y'know, after the end of the book? Tell me more. Please. Please! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!

And Percy's-self-sacrificial stuff is so sweet in this book. Risking your life to save her is great, but what he actually does for Marguerite just makes me go "Awwwwwwwww."

We don't need to worry about the history. They forgot to mention TSP at all and totally ignored the part Sir Percy played in - y'know, what happened at the end of the book. From this moment on the history books can never be trusted. We cannot risk... false history.

"That's better. Just the bow at the back of your neck... a little more to the right... now your cuffs.... Ah, you look quite tidy again!... a perfect picture, I vow, my dear M. Chambertin, of elegance and of a well-regulated mind!


It's a pity we don't all live nearer each other. We could have a TSP bookclub and hear everyone squealing nonstop during this part.

Alexandra said...

Maria - do you really think that I am clear-headed enough to think about the fact that it's called the "Triumph" so naturally Percy will not die? Me? Rational? Most unlikely, my dear.

So the fanfic...hmm. Should I write a post about it or just explain it here? Votes, people. Anyway. It's set 25 years after the events in Triumph, so yes, the Blakeneys play a pivotal role in the story (well, the story is about their daughter, so naturally). Set in 1818 (which means that I've had to delve in Regency research), we see all the old folks from the stories plus a few new ones. If you'd like to hear more I can post about it...although it's still in research/plotting stage so the story's a bit hazy. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Amy! I'll definitely have to read this one... after Sir Percy Leads the Band, that is. (Currently reading it - amazing, y'all. Truly amazing!!) And, ooh, looky there - Armand Chauvelin. The Baroness combines the names of my two favorite villains in the story! (Armand isn't a villain - yes, yes, yes, I know! But I really did almost shoot him in El Dorado... vile, betraying creature that he is...)

Ally - You're writing a novel about SIR PERCY?!!!! I guessed but I didn't dare dream!! *sigh* Ooh, you will HAVE to post some scenes/chapters/the whole thing either on The Day-Dream or your writing blog, PLEEEEEEEASE!!!!!! Thanks. I'd adore you if you did, because I wanted to write a Sir Percy novel, but I didn't think I had enough brains to try and write one. But you - the ultimate fan - do. : ) As I said before, post it when you have the first morsels avaliable to the Leaguettes. Please.


Maria Elisabeth said...

You? Rational? Well, I had hopes... :P

Since you have sort of explained it, I'll say you should write a post about it too. Lots of posts. It would be so sweet to see Sir Percy as an old married man (LOL) and someone's dad. By the way, what's their daughter's name?

Miss Melody said...

Mousie, *I* want to hear your e-books-should-be-boycotted spiel. :D

Um... sorry for the random comment, people.

Maria Elisabeth said...

I second Melody's motion!

Miss Melody Muffin said...

What a great review!! I totally loved this book. I thought it was a fitting end to the Scarlet Pimpernel's adventures, when I wasn't being terribly disappointed that the adventures really were over!!

I've loved the Scarlet Pimpernel stories since the first time I cracked the covers of The Scarlet Pimpernel several years ago. I got my sisters and mom into it and now we're all die-hard fans. It's nice to know there are more girls who are as crazy about the Scarlet Pimpernel and his League as I am!!!!