Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book # 4: Scaramouche

Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the

Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me!
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Figaro - magnifico 
-- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Sorry, I couldn’t resist! Number four complete for the summer challenge! Also, I’d never heard of this book until recently, so now it’s two that I have read, and two that I hadn’t!

     This is the story of a man named Andre-Louis Moreau. He is not a man of action, but a man of passive thinking, who believes the world to be quite mad. And, of course, he is correct in thinking this as France plummets into its infamous revolution. A pseudo member of the French Aristocracy Andre-Louis finds his position in society hanging precariously, as he is neither accepted by the French Aristocracy, and can't quite base himself enough to become a member of the lower classes. Of course, these things don't bother him nearly as much as the brutal murder of his best (and only friend) by a fiendish aristocracy, and Andre-Louis soon finds himself on the run from just about everyone become within the space of a few years a lawyer, and master fencer, a revolutionary, and, always, the indomitable Scaramouche in his long and invariably side-tracked quest for vengeance.

If you find yourself wondering just what exactly a Scaramouche is, please follow this link:

Sexual Content: 7/10
     Andre-Louis is the product of an illegitimate unioun between two individuals (this is part of the mystery of the book so I won't tell you who). This is condemned, even by Andre-Louis himself. Several characters engage in extra-marital affairs, but this is presented as a deplorable things to do and it ruins several relationships. The main (good) characters never condone or engage in such behavior.

Spiritual Content: 6/10
     This book is steeped in the French Rationalism that dominated during the French Revolution. God is considered unnecessary, and the belief that man, and inherently good creature is capable of creating a utopia here on earth is pretty prevalent in the novel. I could spend a long time refuting this ideology, but it pretty much refuted itself in the outcome of the French Revolution, so, that's all I have to say about it. Still, it's not a huge part of the book, this isn't a revolutionary manifesto. It was written by an Italian in England long after the French Revolution, so there.

Violence: 6/10
     Alright, so, for being a book set in the midst of the French Revolution it's remarkably bloodless. So, you may ask, why the relatively low score? Allow me the privilege to briefly mount my soapbox and to speak to you on the silliness of duels. There are many duels in this book, and I find them to be rather silly. They solve nothing, and they're excuses to kill people for injuring your pride. Really? I called you a name and now you're going to kill me? Really? It's like these men never stopped being five years old. It's incredibly pathetic. Ok, so someone insults you, that doesn't mean you get to stab them with your sword. That's just silly. Thank you for your indulgence.

Plot: 6/10
     It was a decent story. It had all of the appropriate ups and downs of a good adventure novel. It was, however, incredibly predictable. I called all of the major twists in the story within the first half of the book. I enjoyed the story, I just wished I could have been kept in the dark for a little bit longer.

Style: 8/10
     The style was nice. It was always mildly humorous and I liked the narrator's voice. The text wasn't very obscure or hard to understand, the words were pretty straightforward. He did tell you a lot about stuff that happened historically with the Revolution which, while irritating to me, wasn't that distracting from the story. It was also cool how he tied Andre-Louis to an anonymous historical Revolutionary figure. The writing, overall, was clever and neat.

Character: 10/10
     And this is where the book wins the prize! I would give this an 11/10 stars if that were even remotely possible. This book serves more as a character drama than as anything else. The plot is predictable, but that's really ok, because it's like you're watching Andre-Louis grow up. It creates a really nice sense of Dramatic Irony. You spend the whole time like "When is he going to figure it out???!!??!?!??!?" and then, you're really happy when he does. I really loved Andre-Louis. He's one of those characters that gets stuck in your head and never leaves. The story is told mostly from his perspective, but what's really awesome is how the author tries to eliminate any character bias. Whenever you're tempted to just see the world from Andre-Louis' perspective and judge everyone the way that he does Sabatini throws in a sentence that makes you go "woah, Andre is actually acting like a brat right now" or "Oh, I guess that guy wasn't as bad as I thought," "Or, nooooooooo what are you doingggggggg? They're terrible people!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!" This maybe belongs in Style, but I'm putting it here, because I think it fits with Andre-Louis being an awesome character. The reader is solidly in the audience which allows them to understand Andre in ways that you don't get to understand most other characters, and it's just really cool. The character development is about as near to perfect as I've ever seen anyone come.

Theme: 7/10
     Scaramouche deals mostly with the idea that humanity as a whole is a really crazy group of beings. I honestly haven't thought that much on this subject, but I can see how it's appropriate for the time in which the story is set. Humans in France during this time were a pretty unstable lot. What I do like is how, even though Andre-Louis sees all humans as being, at bottom, mad, he can forgive them for this. He really understands the people around him, and doesn't (for the most part) hold their faults against them. He's able to forgive most anyone just about anything once he understands why they acted in the way that they did. I'm not sure I agree with it philosophically, but it's certainly a commendable notion.

Overall Conclusion: 9/10
     Ok, this may seem a bit arbitrary, so sue me. While some aspects of this book may have been lacking in quality (and not really lacking that much) it is, 100% worth reading. It's a good story, that's worth reading solely for the characters in it. There aren't many books that can stand on there characters alone, and this is one that could (even though it doesn't have to). It has, honestly, become one of my favorite books and I give it my hearty recommendation!

Next Book: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow (taking it down a level!)

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