Deuxième épisode de la saga après The last musketeer. Greg, l’ado venu du futur pour se retrouver au temps des mousquetaires, cherche à récupérer la pierre magique qui lui permettra de revenir à notre époque. Greg, que tout le monde appelle d’Artagnan, est accompagné de ses amis Athos, Porthos et Aramis dans leur poursuite d’une des deux versions de Richelieu qui existe en double suite à un imbroglio temporel (si, si ! Voir épisode précédent).
Dans leur traversée de la France vers Arles, ils sont rejoints par Milady, adolescente comme eux, qui se révèle aussi traîtresse que son modèle dumasien. Pleins de vaillance, les quatre gamins réussissent à mettre en fuite l’armée espagnole qui s’apprêtait à envahir la France.
Comme le premier tome, l’ouvrage est plein d’enseignements: on y apprend que la France de Louis XIII est entièrement couverte de forêts impénétrables quasiment sans villes et villages; que des mousquetaires de la Cour ignorent absolument tout du pays en dehors de Paris; que Arles est encore à l’époque une ville romaine en parfait état; que les troupes royales seraient incapables de résister à une armée espagnole de 2.000 hommes; que la Gascogne est un territoire tellement lointain et inconnu que quelqu’un qui en vient est considéré comme un extraterrestre, etc.
Et le régal n’est pas fini: l’histoire se poursuit avec Double cross.
Extrait de la deuxième partie The chase, chapitre 8
The forest seemed to go on forever.
The Musketeers had been traveling for four days now, and they’d seen almost nothing but trees.
The other boys weren’t surprised by this, but Greg found it astonishing. The world had changed far more than he could have possibly imagined over four hundred years. Back in modern times, he’d stared at this land from the window of a plane on approach to Paris. There had barely been any forest at all. The entire swath from Paris to the Rhône River had been a giant patchwork of tilled fields dotted with hundreds of towns and crisscrossed by a thousand roads.
But now, in the past, it was all forest-thick, dark, primordial forest. Many of the trees were staggeringly large, with trunks as big as houses and branches that soared high above and blotted out the sun. The underbrush was an impenetrable tangle of bushes and vines. There was only one route through it, a thin path that meandered between the huge trees.
“This isn’t what I thought it’d be,” Athos confided to the others on the fourth day. They were riding their horses single file along the narrow path. Even in the middle of the day, the woods were so dark it seemed like twilight.
“And what did you expect?” Aramis asked.
“I don’t know, exactly. I’d heard the woods went on a long ways, I just didn’t think it’d be this long.” Athos gave Aramis an accusing look. “Perhaps we made a wrong turn somewhere.”
“We didn’t,” Aramis said curtly.
“D’Artagnan, you’re the best traveled of us all,” Athos said, unwilling to let his disagreement with Aramis drop. “Is it truly possible that these woods could be this large? Or are we going in circles?”
Greg winced. “Well, like I’ve said, I haven’t been through these woods before. . . .”
“Yes, we know.” Aramis looked at Greg expectantly. “But you have traveled great distances and know how big France is, correct? So answer Athos. Who is right?”
Greg looked to Porthos for help, but his fellow Musketeer deliberately avoided his gaze, staring off into the woods.
Greg reluctantly turned back to Aramis. “You’re right,” he said.
Athos shot him a wounded look, as though Greg had betrayed him.
“It’s the truth,” Greg tried to explain. “France is a very big country. It could take us several weeks to get to Spain on horseback.”
“What?” Porthos asked, suddenly jolted into the conversation. “Several weeks just to get there?”
“I told the king this would be a very long journey,” Aramis chided. “Exactly what did you think that meant?”
Porthos lowered his eyes, embarrassed. “A week or two.”