cover image The Red Sphinx: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers

The Red Sphinx: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas, trans. from the French by Lawrence Ellsworth. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $26.95 (824p) ISBN 978-1-68177-297-4

Despite the subtitle, fans of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan won’t find the legendary swashbucklers here. However, Dumas’s trademark gifts at crafting engaging historical romances are amply in evidence in this lengthy yet fast-paced volume that places at center stage the Machiavellian lead, Cardinal Richelieu. Ellsworth’s translation captures a complete narrative of the cardinal’s machinations directly after the events of The Three Musketeers by merging for the first time the original serial novel of The Red Sphinx with a separate story, The Dove, which had been written 15 years earlier. In 1628, Richelieu struggles to retain power in the face of a formidable array of foes, including Queen Anne and the queen mother, by seeking out the truth behind the assassination of Henri IV, the ostensible father of the current monarch. Dumas’s penchant for addressing his readers (“We hope our readers will forgive us, but we believe it is time to present King Louis XIII to them, and to devote a chapter to his strange personality”) remains endearing, and his wit helps sustain interest despite many fewer action sequences than in the author’s better-known works. A very entertaining epic. (Jan.)