Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

genre: historical fiction

In a France of the 1600s, there lived a band of men who worked and fought at the will of the King.  Their dedication to the gentlemanly arts, good food and excellent swordplay was only surpassed by their loyalty to the king and to each other.  As Cardinal Richelieu, advisor to the king, hatches plots and dispatches assassins, some few fearless men are needed to undermine his devilry.

Athos.  Porthos.  Aramis.   They are the Three Musketeers.  And while they are absolutely crucial to the plot of this epic novel, our real hero is the fourth musketeer: d'Artagnan.  d'Artagnan, a brave and intrepid young man who comes to Paris to hopefully join the musketeers and change his stars.  Of course, his fiery temper and impulsive nature mean that he is always getting into scrapes and falling deeply in love with women who can hardly bring him true happiness.  His great companions Athos, Porthos and Aramis not only aid him in his antics but also have their own schemes that D'artangan's intrigues both compliment and complicate.

I did it!  I read this really long book! I've had it in the back of my head to read for ages, ever since my kids were small and my husband would make up stories about these four adventurers.   I found it a highly entertaining read.  Parts were laugh out loud funny - those musketeers are delightful caricatures but not in an annoying way.  Their whims and duels, their sensibilities and quirks - so much of this book is the interactions between these men.  I love their loyalty and their "all for one and one for all."  I actually really do love that, the scenes where they back each other up no matter what are some of my favorites.  Also one in which one man must run through the streets of Paris in naught but a ladies dressing gown.  I loved that scene too.

There is all kinds of adultery (which apparently was acceptable at the time?) and devious deeds - and the worst of the enemies, even worse than the Cardinal is a woman.  This mysterious woman is evil incarnate and sometimes her portrayal bothered me, as a woman, but I'd imagine that at the time when it was written no one would've seen it as strange.  It read quickly except for about five chapters near the end that really dragged - if I hadn't already known it was a serial, I would've guessed it at that point.  I had to skim.  But the ending wrapped things up in a consistent way and I am so pleased that this novel is a solid presence in my mind now.

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