Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Puppet Crown. It is a lovely book and a sad one. But though now I am so sad after reading it yet also I am happy for the character died a good death.
The Puppet Crown introduces the puppet king, his beautiful young daughter, and his friend an Englishman and lord. The king came to his throne by way of many complicated politics, but he himself does not particularly wish for the crown. He prefers philosophy and poetry. But he tries to rule his country well.
Next to this small kingdom is a small duchy governed by a duke who ought to have been king because he was the brother of the previous king. But like I said, there was a bunch of political maneuvers and the little kingdom itself could not very well be said to be independent any longer. Austria had taken charge and ordered things about in the manner that they begin in the story. Of course, the duke is not pleased about the arrangements and set in motion a vast encompassing intrigue to take back the kingdom.
The Englishman friend of the king perceives that the king is unaware that his undoing is highly likely. To prevent, or at least delay the fall, the Englishman buys certain loan consols the king made. They will fall due ten years hence and the kingdom shall either be bankrupted if they are collected or saved for a while longer if renewed. The Englishman plans to keep the consols from the kings enemies.
Ten years later, the Englishman is dead, but his son has come to renew the consols. The king is a paralytic now. His daughter is twenty. The duke is also dead, but his daughter, the new duchess shares his ambitions.
The young Englishman enters the small kingdom in disguise. His footsteps have been dogged by spies and he is watched carefully everywhere he goes. His cover is blown, however, when an American friend of his recognizes him and calls his name out loud in public.
Alas, but the enemies had overheard. The American and the Englishman were together captured and taken to the duchy. A battle of wits, cunning, and love ensues. The result: the Englishman has fallen hopelessly in love with the duchess and the American is sent back to the small kingdom to retrieve the consols left there by the Englishman in his hotel room.
The American returns to the kingdom but cannot find the consols. He fights a splendid duel with a traitorous man, picks up a rose dropped by the beautiful princess, and does several other brave and dangerous things.
He returns to the duchy but is accused of turning the consols over to the archbishop (loyal to the king). The duchess has him held a prisoner.
The American escapes and after more daring and brave efforts, returns to the kingdom to warn the archbishop, who is mostly in charge since a recent stroke left the king speechless, of an army coming down from the duchy.
An army is mustered but betrayed by it own men and no fight takes place. The American rides back to the capital of the kingdom to warn the princess. He fights his final duel with the traitorous man and kills the man. But the American is terribly wounded. He makes it to the city nearly dead.
The story finishes with a number of plot twists. But the ending is sad. The American lost too much blood and in those days they did not have blood transfusions.
The entire story is exciting and frustrating and then exciting again. I cannot say whether or not it was well written or if the character development was good or if the plot was strong. I think the plot was good though, or at least decent. The story itself still has too much of its grip on me to analyze it clearly. So I shan't try. But someday I think it would make a splendid movie, and I think I shall even venture to say that I will read it again. But of course not yet.