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The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon - Lauren Yoder, Alexandre Dumas A Dumas novel no one new existed! What a find this must have been, to discover an unknown work of Dumas hidden away in the Library of Paris. As the novel opens, it is the dawn of the 19th century and Napoleon rules as First Consul, not yet having being having been crowned Emperor, and the Royalist forces are still battling to restore the crown. Our hero, Hector, the Count Sainte-Hermine has seen his father and two older brothers nobly die for the Royalist cause. During a brief truce, Hector hopes to set all battles aside and declares for his true love, Claire de Sourdis. However, just before the marriage contract is signed, Hector is called back to the Royalist forces and is eventually imprisoned (and forgotten) for three years. When he is remembered and released, Hector is stripped of his title and must serve in either army or navy as a mere enlisted man, an insult for one of his class. Hector signs on as a Corsair instead of the regular Navy and the adventure begins. Bereft of his lost love and his family fallen before him, Hector's only wish is to live life to the fullest and if he must, to die as nobly as his father and brothers did. Problem is, no matter how hard he tries, he never succeeds. Thus begins battles at sea, a fight to the death with a shark, hunting tigers and crocodiles and a close call with a python, as Hector carries off every situation with dignity, charm and élan. If this book hadn't been unknown until two years ago, I'd swear that Hector was the model for our present day super heroes. Swooning female? Out come the smelling salts and more from his bat-belt! It was so over the top and campy at times, but jolly good fun. No, I'm not giving away the whole story -- actually the first half of the book has very little to do with Hector and very much to do with Napoleon at the start of his reign -- those who read the book jacket and expect it all to be about Hector and his heroics will be sorely disappointed. There is much politics, intrigue and battles about Europe. About half way through Hector comes back into the story and things cooked along for most of the rest of the book until the last 100 pages or so and then dragged down again. I'm not huge on battle scenes, so those were slow for me also, particularly the intricate details of the battle of Trafalgar. I confess to skipping a few pages there. Readers should be advised that this recently discovered novel was never finished, and we'll never know where he planned to take the story in the end. There are many chapters of what appear to be needless characters, history and scenes, but not knowing how Dumas planned to complete the story, how are we to judge? I recall reading The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)and so many chapters that went off into another direction until the end where he pulled all the threads together in the end, and perhaps that is what Dumas planned with The Last Cavalier as well. We'll never know.