Chronologically there are four books between this one and I Will Repay. I don’t intend to read them anytime soon but I have managed to find one of them, Lord Tony’s Wife. It’s finding them that is the problem because there are only a few of them that seem to be available. The rest I’ve been searching for in second hand bookshops.
This one was written in 1913 and features the Scarlet Pimpernel launch an attempt to rescue the Dauphin who is still a child and being brought up to hate his parents. Along with him to Paris he brings Marguerite’s brother Armand, and gives him strict instructions not to talk to anyone he knows. Not only does Armand not listen to this he also falls in love with someone and is so infatuated that he betrays the Pimpernel.
I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more infuriating character than Armand. Not only do you end up marvelling at how the Pimpernel will extract himself from what seems to be an inescapable situation, but also that he doesn’t murder Armand at the first opportunity. But the Scarlet Pimpernel is a noble chap.
There’s a couple of characters in this that I hadn’t met previously, Heron and De Batz. De Batz is half good, half bad. He too wants to rescue the Dauphin but he doesn’t like the Scarlet Pimpernel and is really the one behind the betrayal. Chauvelin is in this though and you have to love Chauvelin. He is an awful villain – suffering a bit because of how many times the Scarlet Pimpernel has outwitted him and in need of capturing him in order to get back into favour. As always the Scarlet Pimpernel makes the most of mocking him in his true English style.
Marguerite is also back, and you get to see how her relationship with Sir Percy has developed, which I felt was missing in I Will Repay. There’s so much stuff going on with the characters though that the rescue of the Dauphin takes a back seat in terms of narrative and by the end of the book I’m not sure I was invested in whether or not he was rescued. I was completely absorbed in working out if the Scarlet Pimpernel would make it out alive.
You could happily read this as a standalone novel. But I would recommend venturing into the whole series. Like I say that will involve tracking down some second hand copies here and there but I think that can only add to the reading experience. These are not hard to read stories. The plot drives them on at a fast pace so it’s not something you will get bogged down in.