Rousing, big, spirited, its action sweeping across oceans and continents, its hero gloriously indomitable, the last novel of Alexandre Dumas—lost for 125 years in the archives of the National Library in Paris—completes the oeuvre that Dumas imagined at the outset of his literary career. Indeed, the story of France from the Renaissance to his own era in the nineteenth century, as Dumas vibrantly retold it in his numerous enormously popular novels, has long been absent one vital, richly historical era: the Age of Napoleon. But no longer. Now, dynamically, in a tale of family honor and undying vengeance, of high adventure and heroic derring-do, The Last Cavalier fills that gap.
The last cavalier is also Count de Sainte-Hermine—Hector—whose elder brothers and father have fought and died for the Royalist cause during the French Revolution. For three years Hector has been languishing in prison when, in 1804, on the eve of Napoleon's coronation as emperor of France, he learns what's to be his due. Stripped of his title, denied the honor of his family name as well as the hand of the woman he loves, he is freed by Napoleon on the condition that he serve as a common soldier or ordinary seaman in the imperial forces. So it is in profound despair that Hector embarks on a succession of daring escapades as fearlessly he courts death. Yet again and again he wins glory—against brigands, bandits, the British; boa constrictors, sharks, tigers, crocodiles. And at the battle of Trafalgar it is his marksman's bullet that fells the famed English admiral Lord Nelson.
Described by Le Monde as "an Aramis as powerful as Porthos, a D'Artagnan as wise as Athos," Hector proves his mettle a thousandfold, but however far adventures may take him—from Burma's jungles to the wilds of Ireland—his destiny lies always in Paris, with his father's enemy, Napoleon.
Did you find this review helpful?