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Not exactly the three musketeers

Joel Rosenberg

325 pages
1999 - États-Unis
SF, Fantasy - Roman

Intérêt: 0

 

Ce roman de l'écrivain américain Joel Rosenberg, auteur d'une série d'héroic-fantasy intitulée Guardians of the flame, est caractéristique du genre: aventures guerrières dans une société médiévale agrémentée de sorciers et de dragons télépathes... Sans grande originalité, le livre raconte l'histoire de trois soldats chargés d'une mission apparemment anodine, et qui révéleront, après force duels et massacres, un complot contre l'Empire.

Le lien avec l'oeuvre de Dumas tient bien sûr au titre (Pas vraiment les trois mousquetaires), d'autant plus étrange que sa justification ne saute pas aux yeux.

Les héros sont certes au nombre de trois, mais le dos de couverture, en les présentant brièvement, conclut: "Athos, Porthos and Aramis they're not" (ils ne sont pas Athos, Porthos et Aramis). De fait, les quelques points communs avec les personnages de Dumas sont mêlés à d'autres caractéristiques bien différentes. Kethol a peut-être l'idéalisme et le sens de l'honneur d'Athos, mais il est aussi passablement stupide. Durine a la force de Porthos, mais il est rusé. Pirojil a l'intelligence d'Aramis, mais sa laideur est terrifiante...

Quant à d'Artagnan, il n'apparaît nullement, sauf si l'on considère que le sorcier escroc qui se joint aux trois guerriers évoque le quatrième mousquetaire.

Si l'on ajoute que les héros du roman sont violents, joueurs et ne reculent pas devant les opérations les plus louches pour arrondir leur réserve de pièces d'or, même s'ils éprouvent une grande fidélité envers leurs maîtres, peut-être faut-il arriver à la conclusion que le titre du roman est à prendre au premier degré, comme un simple hommage à l'archétype des romans d'aventures. Le livre, en tout état de cause, est très inférieur à l'autre excellente série d'héroic-fantasy inspirée, elle, très directement par Les trois mousquetaires, celle de Steven Brust avec The Phoenix guards, Five Hundred Years After et The viscount of Adrilankha.

Extrait du chapitre 2 The Dowager Empress

When they stayed in Biemestren, the three rented a pair of rooms at a rooming house near the imperial barracks, just down the hill, at the base of the road that led up to the keep which dominated the city below.

It was far enough away from the Biemestren refuse heap that they didn't have too many rats, and a row of two-story buildings provided enough shade that their rooms didn't heat up too much during the day.

For a small bribe to the cooks, a fresh, covered tray from the soldiers' mess arrived twice a day, which kept them out of the way of the officers. House Guard officers all too often felt that they had to keep billeted baronial troops busy with doing something, and Pirojil had mucked out enough stalls, cleaned and oiled enough polearms, and walked enough extra guard patrols in his time.

Besides that, their pair of rooms gave them a private enough place to share an occasional whore brought up from the city. Safer than a dungtown brothel, and cheaper, too, when you split the cost three ways.

Arranging for the rooms had taken a bit of the sort of barracks politics that Kethol always despised aloud, that he said his father, a soldier-turned-huntsman, used to swear was the ruin of good soldiering, but Pirojil didn't much mind when such things brought the sort of privacy that he and the other two liked for their own private reasons.

If Durine was moved by it, or by anything else, he didn't show it. It was the usual pattern: Kethol complained, Pirojil endured, and Durine didn't mind. Or at least he didn't mind aloud, not even to the other two.

It was one thing, of course, to be a private soldier, another to be a valued retainer, and yet another to be an expendable baronial man-at-arms in an age when private loyalties were being dissolved in an imperial soup, like overcooked turnips turning into textureless mush.

Pirojil had been a soldier long enough not to flinch at eating what was set before him, but he had been raised far away, in a house where one ate with one's backside on a well-carved -chair and one's boots on a polished wooden floor, not on stools on packed dirt, and he had been used to dishes cooked properly and separately, each having its own character, not thrown in a pot to be turned into indistinguishable, neutral mush.

Pirojil had little use for mush, in any sense. If he had to be somebody's hireling, and he clearly did, he'd rather serve the Cullinanes, each of whose faces he knew, and not some dough-faced dowager empress or, much worse, an empire. You could put yourself in the way of a sword - and he had - thinking that it was your job to protect the sleeping children of the man who made sure you were housed and fed, or you could do it for the food and housing and money...

But not for a faceless mush of an empire.

Durine shook his massive head as he sorted through the gems and coins scattered across the rough-hewn surface of the table. "It looked better on the street," he said. "But it's still an edible piece of meat."

"Well," Pirojil said, "if it fills the belly, it will serve."

"Aye," Kethol said.

They never spoke among themselves about money and valuables, except by indirection. You did the best you could to be sure you weren't overheard, but maybe the best wasn't enough, and it was of a certainty that uncountable throats and bellies had been slit for much less than this.

Pirojil picked up one gem, a fine amber garnet with only a minor flaw, and that just a speck close to the surface. It probably hadn't been visible when mounted.

Fairly cheap gems, certainly - he had hardly expected to find Durine taking a bag of rubles and diamonds off a pair of street thieves - but the garnets were good, and the crimson quartz was superb.


 

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