It begins just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile).
The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness.
It centers around a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty. In addition, it is a story that involves romance, loyalty, betrayal, and selfishness, shown throughout the story as characters slowly reveal their true inner nature.
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