A little Shmoop note for everyone. Just so we’re clear – many of the characters are real people. Tolstoy read a bunch of history, did a ton of his own research, and then wrote all these real people into the novel as though they were the same kind of characters as his invented ones. This was a new approach that Tolstoy invented.
Emperor Alexander gives the letter to his right-hand man, Balashov, and sends him off with instructions to personally give the letter to Napoleon.
Balashov takes off, gets to the French army, and is ignored and rudely treated by a bunch of the soldiers.
Finally, someone takes him up the chain of command.
The first person Balashov is presented to is Murat, who is now the King of Naples, per Napoleon’s orders. He is a stupid, kind of funny guy, who is doing his best to act like a king – meaning, of course, that he just comes off as a ridiculous clown.
They talk for a while, and eventually Murat sends Balashov on to see Marshal Davout.