The Cardinal’s Man

Written by M. G. Sinclair
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

With this book we are back in 17th-century France, with Louis XIII on the throne. He became king at the age of eight upon the assassination of his father, Henry IV. He is said to have relied heavily on his ministers, particularly Cardinal Richelieu, a man who kept a very tight rein on things and was hated by virtually everyone. His ‘man’ is a dwarf by the name of Sebastian Morra, who finds himself in Paris working at the king’s court as a jester but owes his very lowly position to the Cardinal. Also prominent in the story is Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars, a favourite of the King.

Dwarves in those days were regarded as oddities, and mocked and laughed at by more or less everyone. But Sebastian, although only 3 ft. 4 ins. in height, is possessed of an excellent brain which serves him well.

The author tells us that Sebastian lived from 1610-1672, finally became court dwarf to Philip IV of Spain, and was included in a painting by Velazquez, which now hangs in the Prado in Madrid. Nothing is known about him so this story, although it is based on historical events and characters, is fiction, as the author mentions in her notes. Even so, it comes across with great authenticity and keeps the pages turning. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would certainly recommend it.