Who wrote this book and when?
Rafael Sabatini published this in 1921.
Has there been a film version?
Two, to date. One in 1923, and one in 1952 – I personally think they should make another remake.
Who are the important characters?
Andre – Louis Moreau “Scaramouche” – a man of uncertain parentage who was raised to be a lawyer by his godfather, he has a bit of a disdain for the world
Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr – a local nobleman with a cold heart and an eager sword, Moreau’s mortal enemy
Pantaloon – the leader of a troupe of actors, he blackmails Moreau into working for him
La Binet – Pantaloon’s daughter, a beauty but kind of a tramp
Quintin de Kercadiou – Moreau’s godfather, he likes being left alone in his country town of Gavrillac
Aline – de Kercadiou’s niece, she is being pursued romantically by the Marquis
Philippe de Vilmorin – Moreau’s best friend
What’s it about?
When his best friend is killed ruthlessly by a nobleman for being a revolutionary, Andre-Louis Moreau swears he will pick up where his friend left off. He finds he has a gift for the eloquent and then finds it places him in danger. On the run, he is forced to pick up several different guises – the main being that of Scaramouche, the conniving buffoon character used as a staple in traveling plays. Throughout his journey towards revolution, Moreau is dogged by his arch-nemesis, the Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr, who wants nothing more than to see him humiliated and killed. Moreau must also confront his true feelings concerning humanity and reconcile himself with his true heritage, not to mention wrestle with dealings of the heart.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It’s a wonderful book about the bringing about of the French Revolution which includes everything a swashbuckler needs – romance, deception, glory, and of course, swordfighting. Sabatini was a master of this genre.
Do I recommend you read this book?
Yes. Although it is quite a bit more political than any of the Captain Blood novels.
How did this book make my list?
I love Sabatini as an author.
Has it won any awards?
“They have their uses, these gentlemen. They help stupid fellows like myself to perceive important truths. I was fortunate that revelation in my case preceded marriage.” – p 267
“The slender, wickedly delicate blades clashed together, and after a momentary glizade were whirling, swift and bright as lightnings, and almost as impossible to follow with the eye.” – p 333
This is one of Sabatini’s most famous novels. Also, normally I try and stay away from using obviously brand named book covers as images in my post, but this one was just stinking cool. And yes, this is the Scaramouche that Queen refers to.
It’s very rare that a book grabs me right from the beginning in such a way that I go out and buy it without even continuing to read the copy I’ve checked out from the library. Sabatini has a way of capturing you from the first chapter, even the first sentence at times, that is rarely seen in our modern age of literature. His character of Scaramouche, while a little off-putting at the beginning, grows to be someone you would respect and listen to just as the people of France do. He’s curiously flawed, being vain and sometimes naive, but that makes him even more believably written. I was always looking forward to how he would make his next move, and he brought to mind the antics of the Scarlet Pimpernel (which is ironic) or Robin Hood.
I feel I should mention, however, that some passages were a little hard for me to understand. Sabatini assumes you have a thorough knowledge of swordplay and uses terms which are no longer in use today. You could grasp the intensity of the situation, although unless you were a fencer yourself, you wouldn’t really know what was going on. And I fear I also didn’t have a thorough enough familiarity with the political history of France to understand just what was going on during the course leading up to and during the Revolution. That is my own fault, though.