By Marc Bernardin
Updated September 07, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Here’s my theory: This newly re-discovered novel by the Three Musketeers author wasn’t really lost, just ”misplaced” by an editor flummoxed by its fatuous nature. Otherwise, how does one lose a book large enough to stun herd animals? After a brief flurry of derring-do, teasing us with a tale of Napoleonic-era love denied and family honor forsworn, Alexandre Dumas devolves into relating the finer points of 19th-century dance, Bonaparte’s sleeping rituals, and the names of every French nobleman he can think of — and leaves his hero off stage for more than 100 of The Last Cavalier‘s 731 pages. Perhaps this final work by a titan of adventure literature was better left lost.