The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

  Summary (Amazon): The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. D’Artagnan is not one of the musketeers of the title; those being his friends Athos, Porthos and Aramis, inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all”, a motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan. In genre, The Three Musketeers is primarily a historical novel and adventure. However Dumas also frequently works into the plot various injustices, abuses and absurdities of the ancien regime, giving the novel an additional political aspect at a time when the debate in France between republicans and monarchists was still fierce. The story was first serialized from March to July 1844, during the July monarchy, four years before the French Revolution of 1848 violently established the second Republic. The author’s father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas had been a well-known general in France’s Republican army during the French revolutionary wars. Although adaptations tend to portray d’Artagnan and the three musketeers as heroes, the novel portrays less appealing characters, who are willing to commit violence over slight insults and through unquestioning loyalty to the king and queen, and treat their servants and supposed social inferiors with contempt and violence.

My Review (Spoilers!!)

Executive Summary: snooze

So for some foolish reason, I read my two longest books of the year back to back. While I loved The Goldfinch, I could not motivate myself to work on this one. It was our classic for book club, and no one finished it. I may be the only one and three weeks after the book club meeting.

I can probably summarize this 400 page book in a few paragraphs, because in the 1600s, it took a lot of time do to anything. And if you were writing a serial, you may have been paid by the word. I don’t know.

The main character, d’Artagnan, goes to Paris with a letter for the captain of the Musketeers. While there, he is challenged by three Musketeers to duels in succession, and when the duels are over, they become good friends. (d’Artagnan is not a Musketeer until much later in the story so it is more like the Three Musketeers + 1). There’s some political drama going on in France at the time involving the Cardinal, the King, the Queen, and England (particularly Lord Buckingham). The Queen loves Lord Buckingham. The Cardinal wishes to embarrass the Queen in this matter, and he gets the help of “Milady”, apparently the most swoon-worthy cunning woman in all of history. d’Artagnan falls in love with his landlord’s wife who is a helper for the Queen who is kidnapped by the Cardinal. d’Artagnan wants to find this woman, and along the way encounter “Milady” who enchants him (even though he’s supposed to be looking for his lover). He realizes that she is evil and branded, and he sets a trap for her. However she’s too clever and basically the rest of the book is d’Artagnan and the three Musketeers trying to catch Milady. Finding the woman is a plot afterthought. It turns out that at some point, Athos was married to Milady, and he helps carry out a scheme to have her sent to England to be punished by Lord Buckingham. However, the guard becomes enchanted with her, helps her escape back to France and kills Lord Buckingham. When she arrives back in France, she ends up at a convent which happens to be the same one that d’Artagnan’s lover is hidden. As her original plan is foiled last minute, Milady ends up poisoning Bonaciex. The group arrives just as Bonaciex is dying and split up to find Milady. Eventually they do, paired up with her brother-in-law who was keeping her in England, as well as an executioner who has been hurt by Milady’s trickery. They try her and execute her. They return to Paris and the cardinal pardons d’Artagnan and makes him a lieutenant in the Musketeers.

The end.

Verdict: 2.5 stars

Not for me. I easily tire of classics, but I expected this one to be a lot more action packed than it was. I suspect too if I were more interested in history, I might have been more interested, but, alas, I am not. For me, there was not much in this book to interest me.

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Filed under 2.5 stars, Book Club

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