Fabrizio del Dongo, a minor Italian aristocrat, decided at 16 years of age, to fight with Napoleon at Waterloo. He set off with two horses and ended the three day battle escorting 'Marechal Ney of Moscou' along with a party of Hussars. Fabrizio spent the previous night in prison, fortunately, he befriended his jailer's wife, escaped and rode the whirlwind of battle. The description of the 18th century battle of Waterloo endures as the best description of the maelstrom of carnage where whirling sods of earth flung towards him indicated he was targeted by British artillery.
This is a great novel about a minor hero. Stendahl places his characters and their various states of mind into dramatic episodes where Fabrizio's amorous adventures result in a series of affairs with a series of aristocratic women even though he is destined to become the co-adjudicator of the Archbishop of Parma. The court intrigues find Fabrizio imprisoned with the threat of poisoning. The Duches of Sanseverina does everything in her power to secure Fabrizio's release. The prospect of mariage to the Duchess is played out in every scene until on Fabrizio's release she marries the Prime Minister.
This is an intriguiging read. Stendahl's previous novel The Red and the Black concentrated on a similar type of intrigue - conspiracy.