Tuesday, August 25, 2009

219. The Three Musketeers – Alexander Dumas

History: The Three Musketeers was first published in serial form in the magazine Le Siècle between March and July 1844.
Plot: This is actually a story about d'Artagnan, a boy who has grown up in Gascony, poor but from a noble family, who is sent by his father to M. de Tréville, the captain of the King’s Musketeers in Paris. There he meets the three Musketeers, and immediately recognizes that the Cardinal is his greatest enemy. He becomes greatly admired by the King for defeating the Cardinal’s men in a small battle, and becomes a Musketeer, attaching himself with Porthos, Athos, and Aramis. After a few months of living well, he meets Constance Bonacieux, the young wife of his landlord (who is in alliance with the Cardinal) and is also one of the Queen’s personal servants. D’Artagnan falls in love with her, and is pulled into an adventure that involves the Queen. The Duke of Buckingham is in love with the Queen, but because an affair would bring war between England and France, it is very secret. The Cardinal, for some reason, would like the Queen dead, so he tries to prove the affair to the King, without really saying so. Madame Bonacieux has helped the Queen meet with The Duke, who expresses his love for her, and she to him by giving him a cluster of 12 diamonds that had been a present from the King. However, because the Cardinal found out about this present, he convinced the King to have a ball, and to demand that the Queen wear the diamonds. So d'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers went to England to get the diamonds back, but d'Artagnan was the only one that made it to the Duke’s Palace, retrieved them (and received a diamond ring for a present from the Duke) and delivered them safely back to the Queen, just in time for the ball. But the other three were scattered in France, and d'Artagnan went to find them. Porthos was stuck at an inn, because he could not afford to pay the innkeeper and therefore could not leave until his mistress delivered him some money. He found Aramis, wounded and also at another inn, who had been born again, so to speak, and was considering going back to the church. After finding Athos, who was on a month long drunk, Athos revealed a story that he had been married before to a woman that was evil, who had been branded the fleur de lis by the executioner. He thought she had been executed by law, but unknown to him, she was still alive. She was Milady, and she worked for the cardinal and she is one of the best female villains in literature.
Constance Bonacieux is kidnapped just before their first date, and d'Artagnan meets Milady, and becomes seduced by her beauty. But through her servant, learns what a horror she really is. He learns of her plot to assassinate the Duke of Buckingham. So the three musketeers send a letter to her brother in law, telling him of her plan, and he arrests her. but while she is imprisoned she seduces Felton, his helper, and he helps her escape, cross the channel, and goes and kills the duke of buckingham! She escapes back to France to the convent where Constance is at, and befriends her. Then right before d'Artagnan comes in she poisons Constance, and she dies. Then the friends chase down the evil woman, and expose her to all she has done, and conveniently there is the executioner, who cuts off her head. And the friends then ride down to Paris, where d'Artagnan has to meet with the cardinal, who lets him off, admiring his courage, and d'Artagnan becomes lieutenant of all the Musketeers.
Review: Friendship. Love. Hate. Revenge. Secrets. Danger. Adventure. Adventure. Adventure. Adventure with a dash of romance. Swordfights. Duels. Honor. Jealousy. Agendas. Ambition. Greed. Lust. And more than a little humor and sarcasm. So much of this novel is historical fiction, and Dumas certainly took liberties. But his characters are fascinating, very dramatic and interesting. Milady is one of the most intriguing villains I have ever encounted in literature.
Opening Line: “On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town of Meung, in which the author of Romance of the Rose was born, appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it.
Closing Line: “the opinion of those who seemed to be the best informed was, that he was that he was fed and lodged in some royal castle, at the expense of his generous Eminence.”
Quotes: “We always feel superior to those whose lives we know better than they think we do.”
“Isn't fantasy the basis of all love and jealousy?”
Rating: Good.

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