Ce roman de l'écrivain américain Joel Rosenberg,
auteur d'une série d'héroic-fantasy intitulée
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
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
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