Wow! What a romper stomper this was. Pretty much from the very first page you’re thrown into a torrent of narrative that affords you barely enough time to attempt to swim for the bank before you reach the end of this mammoth novel. But despite the fact that the unabridged version (i.e. the ONLY version worth reading) is well over 1000 pages, it’s a pretty fast read the story is so well told.
Prior to starting, I’d recommend heading to Wikipedia to check up on Napoleon Bonaparte and the political history surrounding his return from exile and, eventually, the restoration of the monarchy. Once you’ve got an outline of that in your head, you’ll be able to understand the issues surrounding the arrest and imprisonment of Edmund Dante. Apart from this, there’s really nothing else you could do to prepare yourself, except perhaps settle into a lovely warm bath or an armchair by the fire.
The imprisonment takes up probably the first third of the novel. How
he gets out of this predicament is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. But once out, Edmund spends the rest of the novel exacting slow, sweet revenge. And although this is drawn out over hundreds and hundreds of pages, the pace doesn’t really lag at all. To fully enjoy this part of the novel, it’s best to get a good grip on the characters who combine to set him up and imprison him in the first place. If you do that, the revenge is almost as satisfying for you as it is for Dante. And it ends in quite an unexpected way.
I listened to this as an audio book I bought off iTunes which, unabridged, was over 50 hours long. Andrew Timothy has a superb voice and paced the reading perfectly in my opinion. I’ll recall his voice as lending ambiance to the whole novel whenever I see a copy of this anywhere. At only £7.95, that purchase was an amazing bargain.
As you can see from my rating chart below, this was a very well-rounded novel. In fact, it was one of the best well-rounded novels I’ve read for a long time and, for my money, Dumas’ best on the 1001 list.
On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Garde signalled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.
Read more about how I come up with my ratings