The Cardinal's Blades
PYR, Oct 5 2010, $16.00
In 1633 in Paris, Cardinal Richelieu as the first minister of France diligently works at insuring the French King Louis XIII is kept safe from his enemies in and out of the country. He especially fears the avarice ancestral dragons and their Black Claw agents, who have insidiously taken over much of the continent. The Black Claw especially wants to gain a foothold in France using the Spanish Ambassador to coerce the Cardinal to acquiesce.
Richielieu is very concerned with the demands. His only hope to forestall trouble for France resides with his Cardinal's Blades. However, they were disbanded in disgrace following a failed mission. The Cardinal asks the former leader sexagenarian Captain La Fargue to round up the crew; but he has doubts, if he can even find them, as they were betrayed on that ill-fated mission and Richelieu condemned them. However, for France he would die so La Fargue begins his quest to find his comrades in arms.
This an exhilarating alternate historical fantasy in which dragons soar over a Dumas’ landscape; though the sentient beasts are more off page as their attempts to enter France with insider traitorous help vs. Richelieu and his team preventing them is the plot. The first part of the saga has a zillion relatively small subplots starring as individuals mostly the former members of the Cardinal’s Blades in their own mini-lead though there are other segues (will need a scorecard); this enables the audience to know what happened to them since the fiasco “exile” and understand their specific personalities. The individual focuses converge into a super seventeenth century thriller as betrayal hinders the Cardinal’s Blades. Readers will relish this sword-fighting homage to a fantasized Three Musketeers.