The Avengers of the King
On their way to rescue Louis XVI in 1793, Pierre Lézardière accompanies another man to the rendezvous, but Cécile Renault realizes that he’s not a royalist. He is Sénar, a police officer of the revolution. She must warn their leader, a man of two faces. To some he is Citizen Manaud. To others, Baron Jean de Batz. Monsieur Baron believes there are other traitors in their midst; their plan goes awry and the king is guillotined. Now, they concentrate on freeing the queen and her loved ones before they meet a similar fate.
Sénar follows the royalist leader and is astounded to find that he lives inside the notorious penitentiary, La Force. Yet when the warden opens the prisoner’s cell, another man is locked inside. Sénar is determined to solve this mystery, for it will permit him to pursue the woman he loves. There is also another rival for her affections—Robespierre, a powerful revolutionary whose name is synonymous with France’s Reign of Terror. Alas, she loves a third man.
Originally published in 1911 in French, this novel is rife with duplicities, blackmail, manipulation, romance, vengeance, and sacrifice. Many characters were true participants in the French Revolution, and Drault stays true to history while interweaving facts with plausible fiction. Familiarity with the French Revolution is a plus, but not required. The translation flows well, although the older writing style contains offensive language and frequent asides to readers. Keeping track of who’s who can be difficult since many characters have aliases. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but Drault intricately interconnects threads and deftly unifies them by story’s end in expected and unexpected ways that rouse the reader’s curiosity.