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The Man in the Iron Mask (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199537259
ISBN-10: 0199537259
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''My favorite book . . . No part of the world has ever seemed to me so charming as these pages, and not even my friends are quite so real, perhaps quite so dear, as D'Artagnan.'' --Robert Louis Stevenson

''The name Alexandre Dumas is more than French--it is universal.'' --Victor Hugo

''D'Artagnan is the captain of the Musketeers and threads his way among political plotters and old friends. Dumas works in political intrigue, clandestine romance, duels, honor, the capricious Sun King, and battle scenes, for which he is justly famous. Historical characters mix believably with fictional ones rendered with zeal by narrator Simon Vance, a former BBC Radio presenter and newsreader, a stage and television actor, both in Europe and America. He has recorded over 400 audiobooks. He gives the story the full-voiced treatment. He is especially good at the death scenes, Porthos's booming voice, Louis's bombast, the quavering voices of the aging Musketeers, and the chaos of battle.'' --SoundCommentary.com --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537259
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.3 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you read the entire d'Artagnan Romances(THE THREE MUSKETEERS, TWENTY YEARS AFTER, THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE, LOUISE DE LA VALLIER, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK), you'll probably feel you've had one of the great reading experiences of your life. If you only read THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, you'll probably think you've wasted your time. That's because THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK is the third part of THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE, which itself is the third part of the d'Artagnan Romances. DON'T START AT THE END!!! The title "THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK" is so popular that even scholarly publishers like Oxford cash in by selling it WITHOUT TELLING YOU IT'S THE END OF A STORY. To read it by itself is like reading THE RETURN OF THE KING without THE HOBBIT, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and THE TWO TOWERS, or only book 7 of HARRY POTTER(I'm just trying to think of popular examples). Start with THE THREE MUSKETEERS, and if you like it, work through the series, whose richness always depends on what came before. The story of the man in the iron mask is one of many subplots in a much larger story, so coming into it from scratch, you might be upset if there are few pages devoted to him. So here's how it goes: THE THREE MUSKETEERS is part 1, TWENTY YEARS AFTER is part 2, and THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE is part 3, but it's a massive part 3, divided into 3 books(in the original French, it's one mega-book, but it got divided in English translation): THE VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE, LOUISE DE LA VALLIER, and THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK. I repeat my first sentance: If you read the entire d'Artagnan Romances, you'll probably feel you've had one of the great reading experiences of your life.
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Format: Paperback
Let met start by saying that I've read this at least four times, so obviously I love it. But the title is deceptive. If you are looking for a story about a falsely imprisoned man bravely escaping and getting revenge on those who did him wrong, you should think twice about buying this book. Hollywood has for years tried to turn this novel into such an "escape" story, based mainly on its title, so that's the impression people have of the book.
If you're looking for such a story, I'd highly recommend The Count of Monte Cristo (Oxford has an edition that runs upward of 1,000 pages - which is daunting - but Bantam has an abridgement that is 450 pages and is quite entertaining. That may be the exact book you're looking for!).
The Man in the Iron Mask tells a different story, one based on historic facts. In 1661, King Louis XIV of France had his minister of finances - Nicolas Fouquet - arrested for embezzlement. Also in that year, Louis successfully wooed a young handmaiden named Louise, which caused some stir. In this novel, Dumas gives us the secret history behind these facts, and it is no surprise that the story involves his famous Four Musketeers.
More specifically, Aramis becomes privy to the fact that Louis has a twin brother languishing in the Bastille, and he attempts to switch the two. The novel details his fascinating and rather intricate plot to pull this off, as well as how the other Musketeers fit into the plan.
However, the first couple of hundred pages concern mainly the aforementioned historic events, and its a bit of reading before you get to the meat of the action.
I can't recommend this book highly enough - it seems to have become part of my life, the way some good books can - but don't let the title create a false expectation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just spent the last few months reading all five books in the Three Musketeer series, the following are my suggestions.

1. Read all five books in order. The Man in the Iron Mask is probably enjoyable on its own but reading the four books that proceed it help place the story in its proper context. Think of the Man in the Iron Mask as the dessert in a five course meal. Dessert is great but the four proceeding course are also enjoyable. Getting to the end of the book was especially enjoyable knowing that I was finishing a 3,500 page experience.

2. Read the Oxford University editions. There are wonderful end notes that help the reader keep track of the characters and events. When you read 3,500 pages you need that type of assistance to keep things straight. The Introductions are also very well written and help the reader get back into focus before beginning the next chapter.

3. If you really like any one book in particular, go to the internet and purchase a well illustrated used hardback edition for your collection. I purchased a used Three Musketeers with illustrations by Maurice Leloir. The three hundred plus illustrations make that edition especially enjoyable.

Along with Sir Walter Scott, Alexandre Dumas created the genre of the historical adventure novel. I have been reading these types of novels my entire life. Beyond a doubt, Alexandre Dumas is the master virtuoso of this genre.
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Format: Paperback
Oh wow, what a great end to an incredible ride, the story of the Musketeers. I haven't been so engrossed in a series of books since I picked up Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Athos, Raoul, Porthos, Aramis and of course D'Artagnan are going to be in my thoughts and dreams for some time, I hate to let them go.

If you are expecting the story as told by Hollywood, forget it. While I haven't seen the latest version with Leonardo DiCaprio (forgive me if I spell it wrong), I looked at the reader reviews and was quite surprised at how different the book is from Hollywood's version. I also recall a movie done in the late 70's/80's that is nothing like the book as well. I would pick it apart point by point, but that would include spoilers. The Man in the Iron Mask is actually the last third of a huge novel by Dumas originally titled The Vicomte de Bragelonne. Because of the size of the book, English publishers have divided into three books, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask.

Suffice it to say that TMITIM is the final chapter of our heroic Musketeers, as well as Raoul, the son of Athos. While we all know the story of Louis XIV's twin and the plot to substitute him, that is a minor part of the whole story, as the action then becomes centered on the aftermath of that plot and Louis' revenge. It has been a grand, glorious ride reading this series, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere and The Man In the Iron Mask. And do have your box of tissue handy for the last 20-30 pages. You'll need it. Five stars.
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