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5.0 out of 5 stars Why no cover? Because most of the newer editions of this series are questionable translations and a bad translation = a mediocre Dumas novel. There are libraries that have the 100 year old editions and if you want to read this series I recommend going that route.

The Countess de Charny begins where Taking the Bastile leaves off after the attack on Versailles and the Royal family is “escorted” back to Paris by that same mob and are installed in residence at the Tuileries Palace, while the various factions of the National Assembly sort out the politics and fate of the Royal Family going forward. Gilbert returns as a royalist trying to keep Louis on the throne, albeit without absolute power, and the ever mysterious Count Cagliostro (formerly known as Balsamo) plots with the Freemasons to manipulate the revolution to a higher level. Also returning is the beauteous Andrée who shares a secret with Gilbert that promises to destroy the happiness she and de Charny are finally on the verge of finding (I did not see that one coming!!) and Marie Antoinette (who loves de Charny) is happy to use Andrée’s secret to keep the two lovers apart.

Much of the book details known history as Louis attempts to take his family out of the country to safety, their ultimate capture and return to Paris, as Dumas weaves his fictional characters and their lives amongst those of Louis, his court and the battling factions of the National Assembly. From a secret meeting with the Freemasons as the Duc d’Orleans is sworn into membership and plots against the crown, to Dr. Guillotin’s tests on his “humane” invention on life size models (very creepy), to the angry mobs of Paris, to the battling parties of the National Assembly Dumas takes the reader on a fascinating journey leading up to the final horror of the revolution as The Terror begins in the sixth and last book in the series, The Chevalier De Maison Rouge a Tale of the Reign of Terror. Some readers might find parts of this a bit slower paced as it’s more a retelling of history and not too much action, but I loved every minute of it.

Note — there are several newer publications out there that may or may not be good translations. With one exception, The Queen’s Necklace (a disappointing read due to bad translation), I’ve stuck to the early 1900’s version published by a PF Collier and Sons. If you are interested in reading this series I recommend you stick with those. I had no problems getting copies of my via the library and they are available used online at a reasonable price.