Translator: Richard Pevear
Series: The d'Artagnan Romances #1
Published by Viking Adult on August 3, 2006 (first published 1844)
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction, Adventure
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Dumas' swashbuckling epic chronicles the adventures of d'Artagnan, a brash young man from the countryside who journeys to Paris in 1625 hoping to become a musketeer and guard to King Louis XIII. Before long, he finds treachery and court intrigue,and also three boon companions, the daring swordsmen Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Together, the four strive heroically to defend the honor of their queen against the powerful Cardinal Richelieu and the seductive spy Milady.
I knew I’d love The Three Musketeers. The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas is one of my favorite all-time books and this is even more mentioned/read/known. So, I was happy when the Classics Club Spin hit #1 and my challenge was then to read The Three Musketeers by the end of January.
Dumas takes the historical events of France, 1625-27, and plays with them to bring us one of the best adventure stories ever. The beautiful Anne of Austria is Queen of France, but she is lukewarm, at best, toward her husband, XIII. Cardinal Richelieu, the true ruler of the country, has made advances towards her, but been rebuffed; he’s eaten up by jealousy and spite, especially since he knows through his network of informers that Anne’s heart in fact belongs to the handsome Lord Buckingham.
These fictionalized historical figures are at the center of the story, it’s their loves, desires, conquests and favors that everyone else’s life revolves around. But we really don’t care about them. The heroes of our story are of course d’Artagnan, and of course the title characters, Athos, Aramis and Porthos. D’Artagnan is our heartthrob, brave, intelligent, driven by love and honor. My choice of the three will always be Athos though- mysterious, clear-headed (most of the time), strategic. They’re not perfect mind you, they kill people more or less for fun, one disguises himself to sleep with a woman for revenge, but we like them. They’re daring and fun and over the top.
I may have a new favorite fictional villain. Milady de Winter is awesome! She’s beautiful, cunning, and willing to use every resource she has. She is a spy for the Cardinal and is sent by him on various missions. She is responsible for several deaths, and is sworn to take vengeance on d’Artagnan, but I can’t really fault her. I think she made some bad decisions early in life, but she is doing what she has to – and doing it quite well. Really, it’s no wonder it took 9 men to face her.
The Three Musketeers is well-written and moves along quickly, without being rushed. We’ve got stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and plenty of swordplay, characters who are neither all good nor all bad, romance, adventure, and laugh out loud moments. What more could I ask for?
Indeed, four men like them, four men devoted to each other from their money to their lives, four men always supporting each other, never retreating, performing singly or together the resolutions they had made in common; four arms threatening the four points of the compass or all turning to a single point, must inevitably, be it surreptitiously, be it openly, be it by mines, by entrenchments, by guile, or by force, open a way to the end they wanted to reach, however well defended or far off it might be.– pg 90
I’m adding Twenty Years Later to my tbr list.
On a side note, I’m also reading Don Quixote. In the first chapter of The Three Musketeers, Dumas describes d’Artagnan. “A young man . . . —let us draw his portrait with a single stroke of the pen: picture to yourself Don Quixote at eighteen, Don Quixote husked, without hauberk and greaves, Don Quixote dressed in a woolen doublet whose blue color has been transformed into an elusive nuance of wine lees and celestial azure. (5)” Give me d’Artagnan over Don Quixote any day! The Musketeers make me smile and laugh, unlike our Spanish “knight-errant”.