Historic Fiction

The Three Musketeers

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Published By:
Public Domain Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                When I was a kid, I watched action films featuring the adventures of three dashing and debonair swordsmen in the King's Musketeers and the young guardsman who wanted to join them.  From what I remember, the films starred Michael York as Guardsman d'Artagnan, Charlton Heston, Faye Dunaway and Raquel Welch.  I don't remember a lot from those films, except that I enjoyed the action scenes involving sword fights and chases and some humor as well.  But I had never read the book that inspired the films by Alexandre Dumas called The Three Musketeers.  It was high time I remedied the situation.

                The Three Musketeers, a classic novel set in 1625, follows the adventures of a young Gascony nobleman named d'Artagnan as he arrives in France in search of his destiny.  Carrying a letter that will introduce him to the commander of the Musketeers, d'Artagnan is assured of his future, until a perceived insult gets him into a fight that leaves him unconscious and is robbed of his introductory letter.  Seeking to avenge himself against his foe, he witnesses some mysterious events between his foe and a woman named Milady. 

                Taking after his enemy, d'Artagnan manages to get himself into trouble with three Musketeers  - Athos, Porthos and Aramis - in separate instances.  He is challenged to a duel by each of the Musketeers and has every intention of conducting himself admirably.  However, his duel with Athos is interrupted by Cardinal Richelieu's guards.  When they attempt to arrest d'Artagnan and the Musketeers, a duel ensues and d'Artagnan wounds one of the Cardinal's best fighters.  This earns him a spot on King Louis XIII's guards. 

                But this is only the beginning of d'Artagnan's adventures.  His new landlord, a former tailor named Bonacieux, approaches him for aide in finding his wife, seamstress to the queen, who has been kidnapped.  Falling in love with Constance Bonacieux at first sight, d'Artagnan is easily persuaded by her to embark upon a journey to protect the queen from the nefarious scheme put into play by the Cardinal.  Apparently, Queen Anne has been involved in an affair with the Duke of Buckingham and the gift she has given him will soon be discovered unless d'Artagnan travels to England to get the gift back.

                This is no easy task as England is on the verge of war with France.  D'Artagnan enlists the aide of his friends, Athos, Porthos and Aramis and their lackeys to achieve the goal.  The going isn't easy, but d'Artagnan pulls it off, making himself some unknown enemies in the process.  Through his love for Constance and his need for revenge against the mystery man who insulted him upon his arrival in France, d'Artagnan finds himself in direct odds with the Cardinal's machinations for power and the subject of a vindictive woman's desire for revenge.

                Can d'Artagnan and his trusted friends survive against such treacherous enemies or will the Cardinal and his agent Milady de Winter emerge victorious in their ruthless play for power and vengeance?

                Now, some might say, "Oh my God!  This book is 786 pages long and written in flowery English and French!  No way!"  But I have to say that, despite the length and the flowery writing style, I found myself loving The Three Musketeers.  The book brought back terrific memories of the movies I watched as a kid and was, in itself, a fun read featuring comedic moments mixed in with action and intrigue and a good deal of mystery to unravel.  There are some shocking surprises in the novel that make it incredibly worthy of the thrillers today.  Consider for a moment that this book was written in the 1840s, but has just as much action, intrigue and shocking revelations as Scandal.  Awesome!

                What I also loved about this book is that it was steeped in French history.  Supposedly an adaptation of the Memoirs of Monsieur d'Artagnan, the book features many characters that were actual members of French history.  These include Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIII, Queen Anne of Austria, the Duke of Buckingham George Villiers, John Felton and more.  I have a love for history and enjoy historic fiction immensely.  There is something about taking real historical figures and placing them in fictional situations, wondering just how they would respond in these instances...it's just fascinating.

                So, in short, despite the length and the fact that it was written in the mid 1800s, thus containing a flowery writing style, The Three Musketeers is a novel I would definitely recommend to any fan of historic fiction, action, intrigue and mystery/thrillers.  This book is a lot of fun and I can't believe it took me this many years to actually sit down and read it!


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