One of the most celebrated and popular historical romances ever written, The Three Musketeers tells the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman d’Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers – Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honor of the regiment against the guards of the Cardinal Richelieu, and the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of seventeenth-century France are vividly played out in the background.
But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal’s spy, Milady, one of literature’s most memorable female villains, and Alexandre Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping and dramatic conclusion.
(Summary from Goodreads)
The Count of Monte Cristo, another Alexandre Dumas book, is one of my favorite books ever, so I was really looking forward to The Three Musketeers. Which is why I was so disappointed that I was so…well, disappointed by this one. While I loved the political maneuvering and the mind games with Milady in The Three Musketeers, it unfortunately took way too long to get to those juicy bits, with nothing to really tide us over in the meantime.
One of the things I loved so much about The Count of Monte Cristo was watching the struggle Edmond goes through over the course of the book to come to terms with how everything was taken from him, and how to move on from that (after, you know, ruining a few lives in the process). But d’Artagnan, the protagonist of this novel, doesn’t really go through any sort of journey here. He goes from being a naive and impulsive peasant boy to being an impulsive and arrogant man who isn’t afraid to use people along the way to get to what he wants. Everything about him grated on me. I wish the things motivating him – wanting to do honor to his patron, Monsier de Treville, and his feelings for Constance – were enough to redeem him, but for me, everything else he did – being an impulsive [redacted] and most especially that whole thing with Kitty – far outweighed the good.
The most interesting characters were Athos and Milady. Both of them are enigmas, and watching the enigmas unravel over the course of the later half of the book was fascinating, especially in their interactions with each other. Both of these characters had more to them than what met the eye, which was refreshing since so many of the characters weren’t like that. Also, Milady was unapologetically diabolical, which was delightful to read.
I could’ve lived without the first half of the book. A lot of it was d’Artagnan and the musketeers getting into shenanigans, many of them involving swordfights with the Cardinal’s men and d’Artagnan being a homewrecker. It was all action, no character or plot development. The second half of the book was what saved it for me. This was when we finally saw a plot come into play, not to mention all of the juiciness I mentioned earlier with d’Artagnan trying to outwit Milady, and Milady trying to outwit everyone else. Those were the things I’d been hoping for when I started the book.
I’d say that if you’re Team Count, The Three Musketeers might not be your cup of tea since, aside from dueling, they’re not much alike. While The Count of Monte Cristo is all about revenge and redemption and character development, The Three Musketeers puts much more emphasis on swashbuckling and heroics. On the other hand, if you couldn’t stomach hundred and hundreds of pages of Edmond figuring his stuff out, you might want to give our musketeers a try.
Rating: 3/5 Stars