Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Two: El Dorado

I have a new favorite book! Seriously this was even better than the first TSP book!

Warning if you have not read The Scarlet Pimpernel and you don't want the story spoiled for you do not read this review. I will try not to spoil the ending of this book though.

The Formal
Plot: Young Armand St. Just-cousin of the famous St. Just, brother of Marguerite Blakeney and brother in law of Percy Blakeney the illusive Scarlet Pimpernel-goes to the theater and there falls in love with a young actress named Jeanne. Being young and headless he lets his love for her and fear for her safety get in the way of his duty putting her his beloved leader The Scarlet Pimpernel, his sister Marguerite, and the entire League of the Scarlet Pimpernel in horrible danger. That's the plot stripped down to the bare bones and robbed of the emotion. But emotion is never allowed in the formal is it?
Age Suggestion: 13 at least. This is pretty intense stuff. Nothing objectionable though just a lot of suspense.
Rating: 15 1/2 out of ten stars.
The Informal
Go read this post. And this one, and this one, and this and this. I'm serious! Read all of them. 

Now that you have been sufficiently briefed on the awesomeness of Sir Percy {or not depending on how much laziness figures in your DNA} we can talk about El Dorado. 
"Well, now, Armand, what is it?" asked Blakeney, the moment the footsteps of his friends had died away down the stone stairs, and their voices had ceased to echo in the distance."You guessed, then, that there was ... something?" said the younger man, after a slight hesitation."Of course."Armand rose, pushing the chair away from him with an impatient nervy gesture. Burying his hands in the pockets of his breeches, he began striding up and down the room, a dark, troubled expression in his face, a deep frown between his eyes.Blakeney had once more taken up his favourite position, sitting on the corner of the table, his broad shoulders interposed between the lamp and the rest of the room. He was apparently taking no notice of Armand, but only intent on the delicate operation of polishing his nails.Suddenly the young man paused in his restless walk and stood in front of his friend--an earnest, solemn, determined figure."Blakeney," he said, "I cannot leave Paris to-morrow."Sir Percy made no reply. He was contemplating the polish which he had just succeeded in producing on his thumbnail."I must stay here for a while longer," continued Armand firmly. "I may not be able to return to England for some weeks. You have the three others here to help you in your enterprise outside Paris. I am entirely at your service within the compass of its walls." 
My thoughts after reading ED were such. I was much strengthened in my belief that Sir Percy is the most wonderful thing since himself. 

Basically all I can say is that this was a book that had everything. An awesome hero, a deluded young enthusiast, loyal men, dastardly villains, a wonderful heroine, danger, adventure, but it was this that I couldn't get over.
Armand, I know. I knew even before Chauvelin came to me, and stood there hoping to gloat over the soul-agony a man who finds that he has been betrayed by his dearest friend. But that d--d reprobate did not get that satisfaction, for I was prepared. Not only do I know, Armand, but I UNDERSTAND. I, who do not know what love is, have realised how small a thing is honour, loyalty, or friendship when weighed in the balance of a loved one's need.To save Jeanne you sold me to Heron and his crowd. We are men, Armand, and the word forgiveness has only been spoken once these past two thousand years, and then it was spoken by Divine lips. But Marguerite loves you, and mayhap soon you will be all that is left her to love on this earth. Because of this she must never know .... As for you, Armand--well, God help you! But meseems that the hell which you are enduring now is ten thousand times worse than mine. I have heard your furtive footsteps in the corridor outside the grated window of this cell, and would not then have exchanged my hell for yours. Therefore, Armand, and because Marguerite loves you, I would wish to turn to you in the hour that I need help. I am in a tight corner, but the hour may come when a comrade's hand might mean life to me. I have thought of you, Armand partly because having taken more than my life, your own belongs to me, and partly because the plan which I have in my mind will carry with it grave risks for the man who stands by me.
I swore once that never would I risk a comrade's life to save mine own; but matters are so different now ... we are both in hell, Armand, and I in striving to get out of mine will be showing you a way out of yours.
Will you retake possession of your lodgings in the Rue de la Croix Blanche? I should always know then where to find you on an emergency. But if at any time you receive another letter from me, be its contents what they may, act in accordance with the letter, and send a copy of it at once to Ffoulkes or to Marguerite. Keep in close touch with them both. Tell her I so far forgave your disobedience (there was nothing more) that I may yet trust my life and mine honour in your hands.
I shall have no means of ascertaining definitely whether you will do all that I ask; but somehow, Armand, I know that you will.
I knew Armand would betray Percy. I knew he would sell him to Chauvalin. I saw it coming. What I didn't see coming was my deep feeling for him. I expected to hate him but I found because Percy didn't I couldn't. 

Percy is a lot like Jesus. I'm not saying that Eldorado is an allegory and that Percy pictures Christ. I'm saying that Percy imitates our Lord as much as he can. 

Jesus forgives and so Percy forgives.

We are men, Armand, and the word forgiveness has only been spoken once these past two thousand years, and then it was spoken by Divine lips.
Jesus loved and saved us and so Percy follows him, loving and saving as many as he can whatever the price.
"Poor mite," he murmured softly; "he walked so bravely by my side, until the little feet grew weary; then he nestled in my arms and slept until we met Ffoulkes waiting with the cart. He was no King of France just then, only a helpless innocent whom Heaven aided me to save."
Marguerite bowed her head in silence. There was nothing more that she could say, no plea that she could urge. Indeed, she had understood, as he had begged her to understand. She understood that long ago he had mapped out the course of his life, and now that that course happened to lead up a Calvary of humiliation and of suffering he was not likely to turn back, even though, on the summit, death already was waiting and beckoning with no uncertain hand; not until he could murmur, in the wake of the great and divine sacrifice itself, the sublime words:
"It is accomplished."
This is why I love Armand. Because I see myself in him and because of him I love Percy more. I have sinned against God  and the fact that he loves me anyway makes me love Him. 

"Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends."

"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein we are accepted in the beloved."

"The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you,"

The test of a great book is weather or not it turns us back to God and Eldorado does that. It has become my favorite book