"The Puppet Crown" shows no traces of the hand of a beginner in fiction. The style is terse, strong and clear, the narrative is well sustained, and the dialogue would do no discredit to Anthony Hope, the master in this branch of the story-teller's art. The characters are mostly real people. The only one who impresses the reader as not exactly true to life is Fitzgerald, who could scarcely have spent years in the British army in India and come out of it with so little experience of women and their ways. All the incidental description is strictly subservient to the story, but it is finely done.
"Yes, it is true. I am well pleased. Jacobi and Brother have agreed to place them at face value. I intend to lay out a park for the public at the foot of the lake. That will demolish two millions and a half. The remainder is to be used in city improvements and the reconstruction of the apartments in the palace, which are too small. If only you knew what a pleasure this affords me! I wish to make my good city of Bleiberg a thing of beauty--parks, fountains, broad and well paved streets."
"The Diet was unanimous in regard to this loan?"
"In fact they suggested it, and I was much in favor."
"You have many friends there, then?"
"Friends?" The king's face grew puzzled, and its animation faded away. "None that I know. This is positively the first time we ever agreed about anything."
"And did not that strike you as rather singular?"
"Of course, the people are enthusiastic, considering the old rate of taxation will be renewed?" The diplomat re
If this were a Shakespearean play, it would be titled "The Tragedy of the Puppet Crown," and readers would be forewarned that it ends in death and unhappiness. Like "Hamlet" and "MacBeth," this is a story of dark and treacherous doings among rulers, those who would be rulers and all their self-serving backers, in this case in the 19th century in a small kingdom in the Austrian Empire.
It's reasonably well plotted if you like that sort of thing, but MacGrath is not Shakespeare, and it comes across as somewhat stilted and overdone.
This book is of of my all-time favorites.I absolutely love it!
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