Third and final part - Malefica 3, The Path of Blood - from the saga ofHerve Gagnon devoted to witches and the inquisition. The author takes again the ingredients which made the success of the preceding volumes not without bringing a new breath to his universe always so dark and violent.
Twenty years after having escaped the Inquisition and Cardinal Richelieu, Jeanne Dujardin and François Morin live peacefully in Brittany. And the family grew, constituting a real Dujardin clan with a male heir, descendant of the last Merovingian king Childeric III. This birth therefore constitutes a real danger for the French monarchy. The sword of Damocles hovers above their heads more than ever as a shadowy hand brings the inquisitor eager for revenge, Guy de Maussac, out of the Bastille. However, all the mysteries of the ancestor of Dujardin, Arégonde, have not yet been discovered. A secret remains hidden, arousing the greed of the enemies of young Louis XIV and Mazarin, his cardinal.
What a good surprise that this third volume! While we had a certain reserve during the previous opus, Hervé Gagnon here gives a new dimension to his story. From the beginning of the novel, the cruel inquisitor, Guy de Maussac, coming out of his twenty years of embarrassment, appears transcended into a mad and nihilist prophet, believing himself to have become the chosen avenger of God. And if the author renews his characters, he introduces new ones as well as new plots, like these two assassins with unknown motives, following in the footsteps of the Dujardin and leaving only death behind them. And what about the return of the aging Count of Tréville, associated with D'Artagnan himself. The author does not hesitate to use and play with great figures if not with History itself. If the two previous volumes could have taken place during another time of the modern period and his witch hunt, Hervé Gagnon here brilliantly uses the historical context - the youth of Louis XIV who had just escaped from the Fronde - to build his story and flesh it out with twists and turns. This will be our only downside: many outcomes can be far too predictable.
As for his style still so raw and violent, it never ceases to hit the mark. We are thinking in particular of a scene of crucifixions of unbearable force and realism. But the whole book is not left out when it comes to manhandling and hurting the various protagonists of this historical thriller. A beautiful end.
Hervé Gagnon, Malefica, tome 3, La Voie du sang, Éditions Hugo Roman, Paris, 2015.