The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon

The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon

4.6 11
by Alexandre Dumas, Lauren Yoder
     
 

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Selected as a Top Ten Book of the Year by The Washington Post: the newly discovered last novel by the author of The Three Musketeers.
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

Overview

Selected as a Top Ten Book of the Year by The Washington Post: the newly discovered last novel by the author of The Three Musketeers.
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 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.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Dirda
Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine appeared in France in 2005 and is now brought out in an excellent English translation by Lauren Yoder as The Last Cavalier. It's absolutely wonderful…As is fairly evident, Dumas intended Hector to be our viewpoint figure at many of the major theaters of war during the Napoleonic era. In this respect, he is a Gallic equivalent to Sharpe, the English soldier in Bernard Cornwell's admired modern novels about this same period. Though The Last Cavalier may be corny at times and is obviously padded in places…such flaws hardly matter: These 800 pages almost turn themselves. Alexandre Dumas remains, now as ever, the Napoleon of storytellers.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This first English translation of the last, previously unknown novel by Dumas (1802-1870) offers a stunning completion to his fictional mapping of French history. The plot centers on Compte Hector de Sainte Hermine, a royalist captured and imprisoned by Bonaparte. Part one finds him caught in the political intrigue of 1801-1804, as Napoleon moves from first consul to emperor. In part two, Hector, now known as René, is released from jail; he signs onto a French corsair as a common seaman, but his noble birth, superb education and martial abilities soon elevate him in rank. The next 300 pages slosh with swashbuckling sea adventure, casting heroic romance against the background of Napoleon's ultimate fall. It's Dumas at his best, but alloyed: asides; minibiographies; commentaries on fashion, manners, geography and history; and flashbacks pile up unendingly, leavened with farcical humor and witty punditry. Although it lacks the polish of The Three Musketeersand the concision of The Count of Monte Cristo, this capacious, rambling, unfinished account of the Napoleonic era represents vintage Dumas and an intensely personal vision of the time. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Dumas's final novel, discovered by scholar Claude Schopp around 1990, was originally published in installments from January to November 1869 in Le Moniteur Universel. Set in the Age of Napoleon, the novel is historically situated between The Companions of Jehu (which actually begins the story of The Last Cavalier's protagonist) and The Count of Monte Cristo. Its protagonist is Hector, the young Comte de Sainte-Hermine, who must abandon the woman he loves to avenge the deaths of his father and older brothers for the Royalist cause. Following Hector from France to Burma, the story is vintage Dumas. Though it is incomplete (the scene in progress is completed by Schopp), there is enough adventure and intrigue to satisfy the most demanding reader. In addition, this translation includes an informative essay by Schopp on the history and discovery of the lost novel as well as an appendix containing the first three chapters of another episode. A best seller in France upon its publication in 2005, this book is appropriate for all fiction collections.
—Karen Walton Morse

Kirkus Reviews
A hit from the vaults: Dumas pere's final work, reconstructed from 140-year-old newspapers. Dumas is renowned, of course, for swashbuckling tales such as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, studded with cliffhangers and moral lessons lightly delivered. This title is of a piece, the wrinkle being that Dumas wrote it, a la Dickens, as a newspaper serial and was far from finishing the story when he died. Dumas scholar Claude Schopp, whose literary detective work is responsible for this book, published in France in 2005, hazards missing links and provides the closing chapters, working from Dumas's notes; it's a neat bit of literary sleight-of-hand. While telling a grand tale of adventure, Dumas reminds his readers that the glorious France of the Napoleonic era had plenty of inglorious moments. His Napoleon is smart and power-hungry, as he announces in the opening sentence: "Now that we are in the Tuileries . . . we must try to stay." Easier said than done, for Napoleon is surrounded by enemies, mostly of the scheming-politician variety, and distracted from his duties by his wife's lavish spending; there are wars to fight, too, and much else to be done. Enter the noble Saint-Hermine, stripped of his title, who, chapter by chapter, hacks his way across land and sea to redeem himself at places such as Trafalgar, where Dumas movingly depicts the death of Lord Nelson and breaks the fourth wall in the bargain ("It seems to me that one of the greatest warriors the world has ever known should be accompanied all the way to death's door, if not by a historian, at least by a novelist"). Hermine has his enemies, too, and even a few friends, and sometimes both at once, among them the onlyman whom Napoleon fears-ah, and therein hangs a tale. A big book, and a pleasure for anyone who thrills at the likes of D'Artagnan and company.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605980003
Publisher:
Pegasus
Publication date:
09/08/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
864
Sales rank:
547,586
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

One of the most famous French writers of the nineteenth century, Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) first achieved success in the literary world a playwright, before turning his hand to writing novels. In two years from 1844 to 1855, he published two enormous books, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. Both novels have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Lauren Yoder is Professor of French at Davidson College in North Carolina. As a child, he devoured he novels of
Alexandre Dumas. Lauren holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

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The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
R_E_Conary More than 1 year ago
I haven't read Alexandre Dumas since I was a teen (a long time ago), but I remember "The Three Musketeers" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" quite well. Then again, what I remember best may be the movie versions I watched again and again as a kid. When I saw that a "lost" novel had been published for the first time, I thought it was time to revisit Dumas' work. I'm glad that I did.

As a finished unfinished novel, "The Last Cavalier" is fair and worth three "stars." It was originally published as a newspaper serial and Dumas never had the chance to re-edit/rewrite it for book publication as he did his other works. Dumas was paid by the word, and there are thousands here that would surely have been cut. The titular hero, Hector (René, Comte Leo) de Sainte-Hermine, is over the top invincible and incomparable. He has no flaws (in a Doc Savage, pulp fiction, sort of way), so it's hard to identify with him; and Dumas interrupts Hector's story too often with what's happening elsewhere in history. Did I mention he was paid by the word? Still, Hector's panache and romp through Napoleonic history is a tour de force worth reading. Characters like George Cadoudal, the corsair (privateer) Surcouf, Napoleon, Nelson at Trafalgar, and Minister of Police Fouché come alive with idiosyncrasies and feats of personal codes of honor to delight any swashbuckling fan.

For me, as a writer, what was even more fascinating was the book's preface by Claude Schopp, who found and reconstructed the novel. In it, Dumas is quoted as saying that he is "more a novelizing historian than a historical novelist." In this light, I look at the book as more of a history than a novel and am interested in re-exploring Dumas' other books from that perspective. Also, in the preface is a letter from Dumas outlining his complete plan for the novel. It is as complete a synopsis of the whole story as any editor could wish for. So it was great to be able to refer to that and see where and how Dumas added and changed the story line (Hector's entire time as a seaman and in India are not in the outline). This alone was worth the extra "star."

I highly recommend this book to any reader, Dumas fan or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Second cohort
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But... think of Ember, and your parents... what about them? They could help...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
^-^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't die and also yay. And also, PLEASE do not die. It would be an enormous loss to the awesomeness community.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vote for me at three musketeers... moonrise, aka mr newb, is trying to take leader position from me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cloverlily and sweetkit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rich, lively, and ultimately unforgettable. One of those "must have in my library" books. Recommended to all readers; Dumas fans or not.
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