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"The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel" by Baroness Orczy

The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

If you have read the first four books of the Scarlet Pimpernel series, you now know how addictive this series can be. The fifth book in the series, The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel will not disappoint you. League is a collection of stories and testimonials, related in content and character, but each able to stand alone with a discernible beginning and ending. This format is especially effective in demonstrating Baroness Emmuska Orczy's enchanting storytelling skill, as it often allows the reader to take in an entire episode in one sitting. It also moves the Scarlet Pimpernel legend along by allowing the author to relate several of Sir Percy's daring escapades in one offering.

The reader will recognize some characters from previous novels, most notably the League's co-leader Andrew Foulkes and Sir Percy's nemesis, Monsieur Chauvelin. We also meet several of Percy's alter egos as we see the French authorities confounded by the way he can get inside a character and out again before they realize what is happening. Two of the most amusing alter egos are "The Old Scarecrow, " a public letter writer from the story by the same name, and Rateau, a consumptive reprobate whose "churchyard cough" hints at one foot in the grave, but who persistently manages to convince the authorities of his fitness for duty. A third, Paul Mole, demonstrates how effectively Sir Percy can move in and out of character, a talent that is key to his ability to outwit both Chauvelin and Marat.

The first story, "Sir Percy Explains" is an entertaining novelette featuring the rescue of Madeleine Lannoy's child from the clutches of her former suitor turned revolutionary, the real-life character Jean Paul Marat. This story is atypical in that it alludes to the fact that Sir Percy's wife, Marguerite, is again in Paris and is aiding his work.

We meet Jean Paul Marat again in "A Question of Passports," the second story, in which the reader will discover that the stories are not necessarily presented in chronological order. In "The Traitor" we meet face-to-face the only French Revolutionary more infamous than Jean Paul Marat, Robespierre. We also meet traitorous League member and former friend of Sir Percy, Lord Kulmsted, who plays the title role. This begins the most exciting group of stories as we meet Citizen Rateau at "The Cabaret De La Liberte" and follow him through several amusing episodes. In spite of his off-putting countenance, one begins to grow rather fond of him.


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