Julien is a fascinating character, although as I said before, there are many instances where he does and thinks and says things and I'll have no idea where he's coming from. I'm not sure if he's odd, or if the writing is odd, or if it's just that people had different motivations back then. Probably a combination. Still, you can't help but like the guy...he's clearly very intelligent, and he's very ambitious, but he's also young and very reckless and doesn't really have a plan on how to get ahead in life as he'd like to. In fact, while it's clear that he's ambitious, it's unclear as to what he's ambitious to do. Does he want to be another Napoleon? Seems unlikely, especially as one of his motivations for joining the church is to get ahead in life (he doesn't join it out of religious devotion, that's for sure). Does he want money, or power? No, I rather suspect that this is more of a youthful "I want to change the world" thing, and he has no idea how to change the world nor even what changes need to be made (except maybe bring back Napoleon or someone like him).
One fun aspect of this book is the description of the life in the court of Monsieur de la Mole. The evenings are filled with aristocratic guests, many of whom are sycophants, and many of whom don't seem to be particularly bright or witty. Everyone is unfailingly polite, even as they are putting one another down and cutting one another to pieces. It sounds pretty awful. I was impressed, though, that when a Parisian baron throws a ball, the guests don't arrive until midnight. Reminds me of the New York club scene. Some things never change, I suppose. Seems surprising though, since they didn't have electric lights back then. Maybe there's some gene in humans that makes partying seem better late at night.
Anyway, this book's not as easy a read as the previous ones, but it's quite interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. But the combination of Julien's inherent recklessness while inside the court of a powerful aristocratic family does not bode well.