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Five Hundred Years After

Steven Brust

553 pages
Tor - 1994 - États-Unis
SF, Fantasy - Roman

Intérêt: ***


Ce deuxième volume d'une trilogie de science-fiction/fantasy inspirée de celle des Trois mousquetaires fait suite à The Phoenix Guards. Il raconte les nouvelles aventures des quatre héros déjà rencontrés dans le premier livre (les "500 ans après" ne s'expliquant que parce que, dans le monde décrit, les hommes vivent quelque milliers d'années...).

Le roman se déroule durant les quelques jours d'une crise qui s'achève par l'effondrement de l'Empire: ambitions, rivalités, complots, dans un contexte de crise économique et de déliquescence du pouvoir impérial. Le grand seigneur - et sorcier - Adron cherche, en utilisant une magie interdite, à renverser l'Empereur, personnage velléitaire et sans envergure. Le récit a beaucoup de souffle et constitue un excellent roman de "fantasy".

Le parallèle avec Vingt ans après tient essentiellement aux quatre héros, et surtout à Khaavren/d'Artagnan, capitaine des gardes de l'Empereur. Quelque peu vieilli et assagi par rapport à ses premières aventures, celui-ci présente un mélange de désenchantement, d'ambitions déçues, de sens du devoir et d'indéfectible fidélité dans la droite ligne de d'Artagnan. Les autres "mousquetaires" sont également bien rendus, mais jouent un rôle plus effacé.

Autre similitude: les quatre semblent un moment se trouver dans des camps adverses, deux d'entre eux étant liés à l'Empereur et les deux autres penchant pour Adron. Très bon livre, donc, mais plus éloigné de son "modèle" que le précédent.

La trilogie se poursuit avec The Viscount of Adrilankha.

Extrait du chapitre 2 Wich Treats of an Old Friend, And His Conversations with Three Acquaintances from the Past

To those familiar with our earlier history, it should come as no surprise that the ensign to whom we have just referred is none other than Khaavren, who has now passed his six hundredth year - that is to say, he has achieved an age at which the energy of youth is lost, but is replaced by a calmness that comes with knowing one's position. In Khaavren's case, his position was at His Majesty's door - or, rather, at the door of whatever room His Majesty happened to occupy - and the centuries of waiting there, and making reports to his superiors, and making campaigns against enemies of one sort or another, had, to all appearances, entirely sapped the energy that had been the particular mark of his youth.

Where he had been wont to make wry observations and loyal outbursts, now he kept his observations to himself, and relegated his outbursts to those occasions when his duties required it (and, as a good officer, his duties seldom required outbursts). Where he had been quick to bring hand to sword upon any real or imagined slight, now he was more likely to chuckle, shake his head, and pass on. And yet, should anyone be foolish enough to insist on playing, there were, in the Empire, few with whom it would be a more dangerous pastime. Khaavren's wrist was as strong and supple as ever, his eyes were as sure, and his body as limber. If he had lost, perhaps, the rash exuberance of youth, he had gained far more in his knowledge of the science and art of defense.

As to appearances, the changes were fewer. The Khaavren of five hundred years before would, upon meeting the Khaavren of this day, have thought he was looking into a glass, were it not for a slight thinning of both face and figure, brought on by constant exercise, and a few faint lines on his forehead, brought on by responsibility - the implacable foe of all lighthearted natures.

Yet he took this responsibility gladly, for it was a mark of his character as it had emerged over centuries that he took great care and pride in carrying out his duties merely because he found he was good at them - that is, he no longer saw the service as a means to glory and accomplishment; rather he now saw it as an end in itself, and as his prospects for tomorrow faded, so did his resolve strengthen to perform to the very best of his ability. Whereas five hundred years before his motto had been, "Let there be no limit to my ambition," now his motto was, "Let my ambition carry me to the limit," which subtle change in emphasis, as we can see, bespeaks worlds of change in character.


 

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