I was unsure what to make of this book when I picked it up, but I thought I’d give it a go. My first impressions were that it was a very odd writing style, and oddly informative for a work of fiction.
Part of the first came from the fact that Pierre Pevel is a French author, and it had been translated into English. A lot of the rest came from the second point.
It’s set in 17th century Paris for the most part, with some forays outside the city. The setting is fantastical, with magic and an ancient race of dragons who have taken human form – as well as their draconic footsoldiers.
The Cardinal’s Blades are a elite and secret group of Cardinal Richelieu’s guard, long since disbanded. A threat to France has arisen, and they are reformed to meet it. It’s a story of intrigue, magic and swashbuckling cavaliers. It takes the spirit of The Three Musketeers and with it’s own twists makes a story laced with humour, courage, swordfighting, politicking and brash adventure.
There are several familiar figures throughout the book as well. Not just Cardinal Richelieu, but the Comte de Rochefort, Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan (as I recall) all feature in the book.
As I mentioned above, it’s oddly informative as well. As the book enters each new area, Pevel launches into a description not just of the area, but it’s history and other quirks. I learnt more about 17th century France from reading this book than from any other source. He doesn’t skimp on descriptions of the foul muck that covers the streets, the stench of the city, and all the other unpleasantness of the times. It adds to the characterisation, and the book is better for it.
All in all, it was an intriguing book, and while not my normal style, I enjoyed it. If you’re interested in a combination of The Three Musketeers and dragons, then I’d recommend giving The Cardinal’s Blades a shot.