A Modern Trilogy is here published in one volume (though Druon's earlier historical series- The Iron King, The Strangled Queen, etc. appeared individually). And in spite of its many points of interest- even excellence, its length and its physical appearance (fine print) may deter the less patient reader. This is, by and large, a massive family chronicle, following the house of Schoudler from its prominence over a period of fifty years to its decline and decadence. The larger view is accomplished through many smaller, personal and brutal insights--the proliferation of scenes and sequences introduce a cavalcade of characters, sexually avid, socially calculating and materially ambitious. The scene opens in Paris in 1916 (and never moves far from the French capital) at the birth of Jean-Noel Schoudler, who will inherit a newspaper, a Holy Roman Empire title, miscellaneous fortunes and holdings, as well as the literary fame of his other grandfather- a celebrated poet. It closes as Jean-Noel (his father has suicided, his mother has been murdered by a second husband cuckolded by the memories of the first, his vast inheritance gone) sells his youth to a homosexual British peer, then to a woman of more than seventy and finally indulges the incestuous attraction stirred by his sister. In between, there are many individual stories and unforgiving portraits: of Jean Noel's grandfather- and his wicked pursuit and persecution of a distant connection- Lulu Maublanc; of Lulu Maublanc, and his attempt to prove the manhood he has never achieved by fathering the child of a prostitute (a rigged pregnancy); of Simon Lachaume, who attains his personal, literary and political successes at the expense of the Schoudlers. He gets his start at the deathbed of a family patriarch and goes to warmer resting places shared with the women of the Schoudler lineage- a niece, and finally Jean-Noel's younger sister who conceives his child, etc., etc.... In one respect, although using an objective rather than subjective method, this work can be compared with Proust in its attempt to pattern the flux of a society through the composite lives of many people, and again in the shaping and shifting of worldly spheres of influence and personal power.... Literary recognition seems more assured than personal liking.