My first book review is about The Three Musketeers by French author Alexandre Dumas. Personally, I think that this is one of the greatest novels ever written for anyone who loves adventure. The novel is set in seventeenth-century France and was written during the nineteenth century. This book has a multitude of fast-paced and eventful action—generally involving sword-fighting and gunplay—and perilous adventures undertaken by the main characters. But, that’s not all that makes this book great!
There are also amorous & scandalous affairs, political dramas, poisonings, betrayals, and romance that contribute to the greatness of this novel. Dumas’s writing style is absolutely superb and conveys the story in a very straightforward way by neither disclosing too much nor too little details. The Three Musketeers was written like he has experienced the plot. The result is an action-packed, swashbuckling, and scandalous creation!
The story centers on d’Artagnan, a young man from Gascony who travels to Paris in hopes of becoming a musketeer—or, one of the guards of King Louis XIII [the King]. His father gave him a recommendation letter to give to Monsieur [M.] de Tréville, the captain of the musketeers, so that he could get admitted. However, when d’Artagnan stops at an inn on the way to Paris, he gets into a mêlée with a man who steals his letter and flees. D’Artagnan, furious, swears revenge.
D’Artagnan hurries to Paris to find the thief of his letter with no luck. He is rendered hopeless and tells M. de Treville about what happened. It was while meeting him that d’Artagnan befriends “the three musketeers”— Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Athos is quiet, wise, and a drunkard, having once drank the entire supply of a wine cellar; Porthos is lofty, noisy, and a gambler, always hoping for the best but losing; Aramis is pious, tranquil, and an effective writer, making money from his theological theses and poems. The quartet often skirmish with the guards of Cardinal Richelieu—the chief minister of the King—d’Artagnan once almost killing the leader. The Cardinal becomes furious upon hearing this; however, on the contrary, the King is quite astonished. It was at the aftermath of such skirmishes that M. de Tréville, the Cardinal, and the King come to the conclusion that d’Artagnan should join the unit of the guards—or, the police department—headed by M. de Essarts, M. de Tréville’s brother-in-law.
D’Artagnan even falls in love with his landlord’s wife, who turns out to be the seamstress of Queen Anne of Austria. However, after about one-third of the way through the book, the main focus of the story turns to the Franco-English relations—which brings in amorous affairs, assassinations, imprisonments, warfare, poisonings, and perilous voyages. One such amorous affair is that the Queen is in love with the Duke of Buckingham—the chief minister to King Charles I of England—which could politically harm France since those two countries are at the edge of a war. Yet, the Cardinal has an English spy, Milady—who along with him become the two main antagonists of the story.
Milady is known as Lady Clarick, Charlotte Baxton, Milady de Winter, and by more pseudonyms. She is also a former criminal, having cheated on her husband and using her effective powers of seduction to get herself out of many situations, especially escaping prison. Thus, she was branded with a fleur-de-lis to symbolize a criminal. She was responsible for almost sabotaging a ball—by the Cardinal’s orders—that the King was holding for the Queen. This was thwarted by d’Artagnan. Upon learning of Milady and her secrets, he and his friends bring Milady to justice once and for all. Milady is indisputably one of the most famous feminine antagonists in literature.
This story ends with the Siege of La Rochelle, a war between England and France. This is a major part of the story and involves. among other things, Milady’s imprisonment by her brother-in-law, Lord de Winter. With her yet-to-fail powers of seduction, she escapes with the help of an English Puritan. The escape, though, is executed knowingly, and Lord de Winter is furious and demands her whereabouts. This comes to the knowledge of the quartet and they immediately commence their search for her.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic world literature, action, and adventure. Make sure to get the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition translated by Richard Pevear, who is the co-translator with his wife, Larissa Volokhonsky, of classic Russian literature such as Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and War and Peace. This book is translated with superb wording, contains excellent and detailed footnotes, and makes the whole story entwine like the double helices of DNA.