108 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 1998
This book, like most of Dumas' work is wonderful. His adventure stories still evoke a sense of wonderment and raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Most movies of the same titles do not portray the events as he wrote them, but I have found that most accomodate the tempo or the 'feel' of his novels. I would additionally like to set the record straight on the trilogy argument that I see in most of the reviews in this page. The series was originally published as a trilogy, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and Vicomte de Bragelonne. The Vicomte de Bragelonne is now published by most in three volumes: Vicomte de Bragellone, Louise de la Valliere, and finally The Man in the Iron Mask. I have seen it split into four parts with Ten Years Later being placed in between the Vicomte de Bragellone and Louise de la Valliere. This splitting was done because when the three are combined, or rather not split, the novel is large and cumbersome to read. I hope that all this literary information does not detract one from the greatness of this series however, it is truly a wonderful tale to read about, and the story endures through to modern times with the same ferver in which it was released.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This highly-pleasing sequel to The Three Musketeers should please any fan of Dumas. While including most of the same characters as that first book of the series, this one presents a significantly different reading experience. With a more complex plot, somewhat less 'action', and a greater degree of political intrigue, TWENTY YEARS AFTER is really a more mature book than its predecessor. Two decades after the close of THE THREE MUSKETEERS, we find our heroes living individual (and somehow unfulfilling) lives apart from one another. As d'Artagnan decides that he's had enough of living in the shadows of his old exploits, and decides to take a more active role in present day politics, the current adventure begins. After reintroducing us to each of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis as d'Artagnan tries to recruit them for new adventures, Dumas sets in motion events that see our heroes intricately involved in world events that will shape the future of Europe.
One of the most interesting aspects of TWENTY YEARS AFTER is the growth of d'Artagnan. From the wide-eyed and inexperienced young man of THE THREE MUSKETEERS, d'Artagnan has become a seasoned and extremely confident soldier by the start of this one. While maintaining his rascaliness, he has developed a sharp wit and a rather devious imagination. Indeed, you will see that it is d'Artagnan's strong mind that enables him to succeed more than his strong arm in this book (as opposed to THE THREE MUSKETEERS). Here d'Artagnan is actually looked to as the de facto leader of the intrepid foursome that before he only wanted to follow. This more developed d'Artagnan now rivals the Count of Monte Cristo as my favorite Dumas character.
As a piece of historical fiction, TWENTY YEARS AFTER is much more demanding than THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Those without a fairly strong foundation in mid 17th century French and English history might find themselves somewhat lost as Dumas expects a certain amount of knowledge of the setting in his readers. In this aspect, the Oxford World's Classic edition will help immensely (see below). While the reader is still treated to a grand adventure, with all of the aspects that readers of Dumas expect, the enjoyment of this book will only be enhanced by a good understanding of the history behind this work and the implications it has on the future. Throughout TWENTY YEARS AFTER, d'Artagnan and company find themselves intimately involved in major historical events and typically influencing their outcome.
As usual, this Oxford World's Classics edition is excellent. With valuable explanatory notes and a detailed list of characters in the back of the book, you'll be able to navigate this complex story with a greater level of understanding than would be likely with the text only. The explanatory notes are denoted with a simple "*", and remain inconspicuous while reading the story, not distracting the reader like same-page notes have a tendency to do. You'll find that depending on your mood or your curiosity, you might or might not flip to the back of the book to look up individual notes.
If you enjoyed THE THREE MUSKETEERS, let the adventure continue with this excellent book! Highly recommended.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2004
This is the second book in Dumas' Musketeers trilogy and the sequel to The Three Musketeers. Since this is not a trilogy which can be read out of order, the best way of describing the book is probably to compare it to the first one.
The basis is quite simple: it is twenty years since the adventures of the Four, and they have gone their separate ways. After Cardinal Richeleu's death, the new de-facto ruler of France is Mazarin, who is less ruthless yet less honourable. Rather than feared and hated as Richeleu was, Mazarin is unpopular, despised and scorned - and has a reputation for enormous avarice. As d'Artagnan's brilliance has gone largely unrewarded in his 20 years as lieutenant of the Musketeers, he embraces the chance to serve Mazarin directly.
However, in trying to gather his three friends, he finds out the extent to which time separates people. No longer a unit, the four are caught on opposite sides of the historical Fronde conflict. The book is essentially about their exploits with the added dimension of the attempts to maintain their friendship despite the outside world causing many a rift. I think this is the book's greatest strength, as the whole trilogy shows a kind of progression from pure swashbuckling at the start of the Three Musketeers to a more introspective attitude. In Twenty Years after, this applies not only to history, but to friendships and interpersonal relationships.
This book contains many more detailed references to historical events (as many events in the first book weren't related to documented events) and hence will envelop you in a more concrete historical setting. On the other hand, this will mean more inaccuracies. Furthermore, Twenty Years after is longer than The Three Musketeers (so don't expect to get through it in one afternoon) but it's still classic drama-filled, scheming Dumas.
Overall, a great book. I agree with people who say it's as good as the original, just don't expect more of EXACTLY the same - if it were it would be boring, but as Athos, Porthos, d'Artagnan and Aramis mature, so does our reading of their exploits.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
i loved the three musketeers and looked forward to following the four friends though another adventure. with this in mind i really enjoyed the book. for me it could have started a little faster as having recently read the earlier book i was ready to get straight into the action.
After this initial slow down i found myself reabsorbed into the tale and was again sad to see it end. I enjoyed it enough to move straight into the third book but only give 4 stars because as a standalone book the first was better and so deserves the higher 5 stars. for anyone who really liked the first story they should read this book. for others who found the first just ok then i wouldn't bother with 20 years after.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 1999
When I first saw this book,I expected a further story of D'Artagnan and his friends.I wasn't disappointed.D'Artagnan's rise in the ranks of the Musketeers and his reunions with all threee of his old comrades reaffirm their famous moto:ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!I loved the delightful way Dumas blended actual history(like the 1648 Fronde rebellion in France or the 1649 rebellion in England)with the lives of these heroes,with Athos remaining the most noble and heroic.(Footnote:This is the only book that gives D'Artagnan's first name and the first one to give the real names of all three of his Musketteer friends.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2000
While my copy of Dumas' "Three Musketeers" bears the mark of my having reread it six or seven times in the form of dog-eared and slightly bent pages, my copy of "Twenty Years After" is probably just as worn, if not more so, as the original manuscript. This enchanting depiction of love-the love between a father and son, and between friends-surpasses all previous attempts to convey the true depth of this emotion. Dumas portrays his characters in the most intricate and emotionally provocative light, particularly Athos. This incarnate depiction of nobility and goodness is the heart and soul of the book, as a father, a friend, a soldier dedicated to the cause of justice. The work is written with such a deep and apparent sense of humanity, to the point where the reader is drawn into every battle, becomes a passionate proponent of every cause. Overall, this is a breathtaking, passionate work, full of intrigue and not at all lacking in humor. An absolute must-read!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 1998
Twenty years after, although not as good as the Three Musketeers, is an excellent novel. In traditional Dumas style it starts of slowly to reach the climax late in the book. Twenty Years after is the second in a series of five novels about Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artangnan. Once again I dare anyone not to get drawn in by these four characters. I recommend that one reads these five book in order (The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, Vicomte of Bragleonne, Louise de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask). Please write back with any comments.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 1998
20 Years After is the second book in the 5 book trilogy of The Three Musketeers. This wonderful book contains intrigue, suspense, and best of all D'artgnan, Athos, Porthos, and Arimis. The 4 friends really find out what their friendship is all about. This book contains everything: revenge, musketeer vs musketeer, the resurgence of death (or Winter I should say, hint, hint), the diamond, and just about anything else you can think of. Dumas keeps you on your seat, even though the first half of the book is a bit dry but that is because he sets up the political arena in which our heros fight in. Excellent book I cannot wait to read the next book in line.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2012
This is the rare occasion when a sequel is just as good as the original. That's even more impressive when the original is The Three Musketeers, which, in a certain specific way, must be the best book ever written. But there you have it -- Twenty Years After is a brilliant follow-up. It captures just enough of the adventurous spirit of the original, and returns to the great friendship between the four main characters, but doesn't simply rehash them. In fact, it's a little hard to believe that it was written immediately after The Three Musketeers -- it really feels like twenty years have passed.
Dumas is not usually anyone's idea of a psychologically nuanced writer, but he hits all the right notes in his handling of this passage of time. This is not simply a sequel starring the audience's favourite characters back for more of the same. The musketeers have changed, but in ways that are consistent with their character. Aramis has turned from an effete, sighing pretty-boy to a ruthless, hard-edged man of action. In one scene, Dumas explicitly highlights his bloodthirst, as he finishes off wounded enemies on the battlefield while galloping to pick a fight with a rival. But Aramis was always the most cynical musketeer, and his refinement always concealed a complete disregard for human life (in the very first duel in The Three Musketeers, he was the only combatant to have killed his opponent). The change in his outward behaviour is very logical.
By contrast, Athos has settled down to a peaceful life, and demonstrates almost pacifist tendencies. Granted, here it sometimes feels like Dumas is going too far in making him look saintly. But then, his smouldering intensity took all the best scenes in The Three Musketeers, so anything less can't help but feel anti-climactic. Still, he maintains his demanding sense of honour, and once the musketeers go to England, he sees plenty of action.
The book strikes the right balance between similarity to the original, and sharply contrasting change. Of course, every reader will root for the musketeers to get together and start fighting bad guys. This has to happen eventually -- if it didn't, there'd be no point. But it takes quite a while to get there, and until the voyage to England (an impressive dramatic peak), the protagonists are separated. D'Artagnan and Porthos attempt to improve their social status by, essentially, hiring themselves out to Cardinal Mazarin, while Athos and Aramis take the side of the rebel princes and aristocracy. This political divide creates some conflict between them, but it is fairly quickly resolved. However, they still spend most of the book striving for very different goals. Their separation is an obvious, but surprisingly effective dramatic device. As they say repeatedly, everyone knows they're invincible together, but apart they're in much greater danger. In this unexpected situation, one feels that anything might happen.
Dumas also gets the right sense of when to shift the focus away from the musketeers and onto other characters. He loses that sense in The Vicomte De Bragelonne, which spends too much time on various very boring people -- if too much time goes by without a duel, the reader starts getting antsy. But Twenty Years After introduces some memorable new faces. Early on, a few chapters are set aside to describe the hilarious prison escape of the Duc de Beaufort. He is not really central to the story, and fades into the background after the escape, so it's almost as if these scenes were included solely for their value as a comic shaggy-dog story. The duke's petulant prison exploits are hysterical (his impulsive temper is played off very well against jailer and straight man La Ramee), and the escape is splendidly adventurous.
In a very different way, Dumas' Cardinal Mazarin is also a very powerful character portrait. Everyone unfavourably compares him to Richelieu (the musketeers now regret having defied "the great cardinal" in their youth, which is a clever touch), and he is indeed a much lower and meaner sort of person, using the French monarchy mostly for his own personal gain. But one has to grudgingly admire his guts. He knows that no one respects him, and as a foreigner, his powerful status is always precarious. Still, he somehow walks this razor-thin line, surviving by manipulating and bribing the princes, flattering Anne of Austria, but sometimes sharply asserting his influence over her with humiliating remarks. Richelieu may have been the greater statesman, but Mazarin is a much more modern person, very comprehensible to the contemporary reader.
Overall the tone of this book is much darker than The Three Musketeers. Valour and swordplay are no longer enough, but the political stakes are much higher. Cardinal Richelieu may have been a powerful adversary, but he was still a single individual, and he was sophisticated enough to appreciate a worthy enemy. But here, d'Artagnan has to rely on his wits to deal with faceless mobs and venal politicians, while losing some old friends, and to make matters worse, he now realizes that even his own employers are unworthy of the kind of loyalty he demonstrated in the original book. These are uncertain and treacherous waters, and it's actually a relief once the protagonists finally reunite, even if they're stranded in hostile territory.
If the original novel was about loyalty to one's friends and king, Twenty Years After is about testing that loyalty to its absolute limit. Indeed, even after their reunification, the musketeers still have their own careers and social standing to worry about; d'Artagnan essentially uses Porthos, while Aramis uses Athos, although both are willing to be used (Porthos to become a baron, Athos to make a political point). The barriers between them are never exactly broken, but at least the book argues that it's possible for old friendships to temporarily overcome them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
The second part of The Three Muskeeters quadrilogy, Twenty Years After starts off on a somber note and ends in a thrilling fashion. It may not have the specialness and flair like the original, but it's highly entertaining as well.
However, a great deal of patience is required to get into Twenty Years After as the adventure begins after reading the first 250 pages. There is a lot of politics involved which reminds the readers that the state of affairs in France is bigger than the four musketeers. What's so brilliant about Alexandre Dumas is how he is able to juggle all of the luminaries of the French court and still tell a sweeping tale. It's just quite impressive given the impossible task.
Now, we know more in depth about each of the four musketeers. D'Artagnan, the true hero, is enterprising and wants to rise in ranks yet he would sell out himself to get what he wants. Athos is an ardent Royalist yet he is surprisingly weak and sometimes indecisive. In fact, if he had killed Mordaunt in the first place, Charles I might have been saved. Porthos is not the brightest bulb in the room yet he is sheerly awesome in brute strength. Aramis remains a complete mystery and not all that likeable. What's so surprising is how the three never kept up correspondences with d'Artagnan. Their servants and a couple of new ones, except for Bazin, are immensely memorable and fun.
If I am disappointed by the conduct of Anne of Austria towards the four musketeers, Twenty Years After makes her to pay for it and sees her humiliated for her lack of gratitude. In so many ways, the novel has come to a full circle, righting the wrongs in The Three Musketeers and paying off handsomely the rewards the four have worked for.
As thrilling as Twenty Years After is in spots, it's, to be honest with you, a long, trying read. The momentum has died down after the execution of Charles I, and there are 200 pages to go. A lot of the build-up takes hundreds of pages only to have a dozen of pages or less to revel in the much longed-for adventure. Mordaunt, the son of Milady, is no great shakes and is only a fraction of a villain when compared to her. In many ways, he is a disappointing figure.
Although loosely based on French history and some of England throughout the 17th century, Alexandre Dumas adds his own spice of flavor to the events so to allow the four main characters and their servants to play a large part in them. I've learned a lot, but I admittedly feel that I have to be French enough to appreciate it due to the quagmire of politics. Throughout my read, I've wanted Dumas to stick with the main characters because I am so inundated with everything else that is going on in the Louvre, on the streets of Paris, and also in England. As I am for democracy, there is a decidedly Royalist feeling associated with the book which turns me off.
All in all, although Twenty Years After is not the same as The Three Musketeers, it's still a thrilling, if sometimes boring, read.