This is another one of the books from the 1001 Books you must read before you die series. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas is a piece of classic literature.
My usual problem with classic literature is that it is often boring. It doesn’t age well, and is hard to understand in modern times. I never enjoyed Moby Dick, Hunchback of Notre Dame, or many such classics.
But I always enjoy a good Dumas tale. The Count of Monte Cristo was great, and so was this book.
You are probably aware of the vague idea, that the book revolves around four friends: three musketeers named Athos, Porthos and Aramis; and a young hopeful named D’Artagnan. The story is so well known, that everybody has re-written or filmed it.
The book however goes further than any of the films I have ever seen about it. The incidents related in the films are all covered in the first quarter of the book, and I wondered what would happen now. The story sweeps across many months, and many incidents, all related. It follows the four friends, their allies, and their enemies.
One of the striking features for me was the way in which Cardinal Richelieu and Lady De Winter were portrayed. Milady is without doubt the true villain of the piece. Her hatred of D’Artagnan fuels most of the plot, and carries it through all it’s steps. The cardinal, of whom she is usually seen as merely an agent, is in fact portrayed as more scheming than actually evil. It is in fact the Cardinal who spares D’Artagnan’s life when Rochefort and Milady want him to take it, and ultimately it is he who gives D’Artagnan his commission.
The characters are complex, although his treatment of the female characters is a little stereotypical, and decidedly misogynistic. A good adventure story though, and one I would recommend, although only to those looking for a long book.