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The Three Musketeers Paperback – December 5, 2014
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''Dumas is a master of ripping yarns full of fearless heroes, poisonous ladies and swashbuckling adventurers.'' --The Guardian
''Engrossing and often hilarious! Bounds along at a thumping pace.'' --The Guardian
''I was utterly engrossed! Terrific.'' --The Times
About the Author
One of the most widely read French authors in history, Alexandre Dumas is best-known for his iconic classic The Three Musketeers, as well as for The Count of Monte Cristo, and the two Musketeer sequels Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelome: Ten Years Later. Dumas began his writing career as a successful playwright, and later evolved to writing magazine articles and travel books, before extending his talents to fiction. His work has been translated into over one hundred languages and has been the subject of nearly two hundred film adaptations that include talent as varied as Leonardo DiCaprio, James Whale, and Mickey Mouse.
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The only let down, and it was slight, was that the tone of the second part of the novel was somewhat more sombre than the first. This, for me, wasn't fitting of the atmosphere of adventure that Dumas set in the first part. I was expecting a more dramatic climax - a sword fight against d'artagnan and the Man of Meung or an all out Musketeer vs Cardinalist Guard dual, perhaps. However, the shift from adventure to romantic tragedy was was still gripping.
I found the epilogue a little sketchy and would have liked a little more detail - particularly for such a complex character such as Athos whom Dumas did an excellent job in creating that all important reader-character relationship.
All in All, A FANTASTIC READ!
Perhaps this is like the Count of Monte... when the movie had me believing the story was much different until I read the book itself.
Anyhow, I would have to recommend reading this if you would like to dispel the silly ideals that Disney has placed in our heads about the Musketeers being a close band of brothers.
Dumas is one of those authors who talks to his readers when he is being clever and brilliant to let them know he is being clever and brilliant. I personally find that distracting, but that's the only major complaint I have.
As the story progresses, it becomes very engaging. In defense of Dumas against my earlier statement, it is quite clever. The Musketeers are not great guys in a modern context. I think the story reveals a lot about the culture of the time. I don't have a lot of experience reading novels from this period that use a female as a primary villain. I thought that was neat.
The book is long (784 pages!), and at times too overly detailed, especially during the ranting and raving of Milady, explaining her plots and intrigues and machinations involving a whole host of important and not important people in the early 1600s, during which time France and England toyed with war. There are great historical religious implications in much of the story. Milady repeatedly fails to kill d'Artagnan (a plot feature necessary to advance the overall story). And we find the young d'Artagnan impetuous and (we might say) perpetually sexually aroused by any number of women, including Milady. Lots of people are killed or die in the course of the story. While chivalry is not dead in the early 1600s, valuing human life has not achieved importance.
You'll learn a lot of the history between France and England during that era, improve your vocabulary and have a good laugh or two. If you succeed in managing the length of the novel, you'll be rewarded at the end. but it's the story itself that has value in modern literature. Of course there are sequels, as Dumas was the master of serializing his stories (in the 1840s) for rabid public consumption and his own personal gain. These stories were massively popular at the time of their serialization.
"The merit in all things consists in the difficulty," spoke the wise Aramis on page 371. The reader deserves a merit badge for reading the entire book, a meritorious effort indeed.
For its historical significance in establishing the adventure novel, it's a 5. For excellent modern translation it's a 5. For sheer readability, it's a 4.8. For fun (despite its length and pace) it's a 4.9.
All in all, I give it a 5. Why not?