A Napoleonic novel -- in which the fictionized elements are definitely subordinate in emphasis and interest to the gradual unfolding of the character of Napoleon himself. At the height of his power, somewhat drunk with it, he makes his first major false move, the Spanish campaign and the ousting of the Bourbons, a move which led to his downfall by setting into motion various other subversive activities on the part of his closest advisors. The central figure is the younger Marbot, and the older brother plays a minor part. Walewska, the Polish mistress, Josephine, Talleyrand, Fouche, the Russian Tear and the Spanish royal family play active parts in this segment of the Napoleonic story, and to a large extent the plot revolves around the plottings and plannings to supply an heir for the throne. One feels a lack of unity, of focus, since there is no solution to the question posed -- simply the approach to the decision on the part of Walcwska, that the place beside Napoleon is not in her stars. A certain freedom, rather unjustified, has been taken with the facts, but the spirit is well sustained, and the purpose of the book is achieved. It's not easy reading, slow getting under way, and overpacked with detail.... Watch it, however. My guess on the two leading candidates for the Harper Prize Novel is this book and the Prokesch title, The Seven Who Fled.