(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the very best of the series, mixing amorous and political intrigue with an élan peculiar to Dumas...this quasi-historical series remains remarkably readable" (The Irish Times, Dublin)
This story seems quaint and very subtle by modern standards.
Large tracts are devoted to the minutiae of French royalty and the surrounding courtiers, where sometimes there is a very long and (impeccably narrated) winding road to reach a climax where one of several gallant knights squeezes one of several ladies-in-waiting hands or some other equally scandalous body part.
I suppose this must have titillated in it's day, but it really doesn't measure up to the excitement of "The 3 Musketeers", "20 Years After" or even "The Man in the Iron Mask", which follows on from this, and is well enough written that you could probably jump from "Le Vicomte de Bragelonne" to "The Man in the Iron Mask" without losing much in the bargain.
Please give us all of the Dumas that is available in audio format -- commission new recordings, if necessary. Louise de La Velliere is another fine prequel to The Man in the Iron Mask, even if you have already read that classic. Louise, Raoul, Athos, and many other characters are understood more easily when The Vicompte de Bragilonne, Louise de La Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask are taken in the proper order. No wonder Aramis wants to replace Louis on the throne with his twin brother!
As others have said, the velvet and lace romantic intrigues are subpar for Dumas, but the novel as a whole is redeemed by its enlargement and shading of the series' characters, insightful flourishes, and above all by the sublime performance of Simon Vance, who intones new meaning into otherwise hackneyed soap opera.
I loved the performance by Simon Vance as with all his work. However, this installment is not up to the great level of Dumas' previous three books in the series. A romantic farce rather than a tragedy it just doesn't hold up. Can't wait to get back to his great writing with Man in the Iron Mask.
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