The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
So based on my experience with half a dozen movie versions of this book, I assumed the Cardinal was the big baddie and the story was mainly about the three musketeers. Reading it proved it to be a very different book. The Cardinal is certainly not the hero, but his role is more ambiguous than I expected. The true villain is actually the Lady DiWinter and oh my gosh, she is fantastic! I wish this book was called Don’t Mess with DiWinter. I have never encountered a more manipulative genius in literature! She’s a deadly version of Scarlett O’Hara. Everything she does is perfectly calculated. The book didn’t really click for me until she took center stage.
Honestly, I could have done without about half of the scenes with D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. They are all great swashbuckling scenes, but their silliness is a bit exhausting. Aramis wants to be a priest, but he doesn’t really because he’s in love with a woman. Porthos is a preening fool who uses different women to fund his extravagant lifestyle. Athos, also known as emo boy, is moody and dramatic. Sure we soon learn why he is the way he is and it’s a great reason, but still the emo tendencies get a bit old.
D'Artagnan is the biggest goof of them all. When he isn’t challenging every man he meets to a duel, he’s falling in love with every woman he meets. Ironically the woman who he first falls for and who continues to love him is named Constance; her love is constant, while his certainly is not.
The book begins as D'Artagnan heads to Paris to join the king’s guard and become a musketeer. He meets three musketeers along the way, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and after a few misunderstandings the four become inseparable. The cocky quartet is constantly getting into trouble because of the unnecessary risks they take. At the same time they are pretty great at what they do and it’s fun to watch them duel their way out of every situation.
“I foresee plainly that if we don’t kill each other, I shall hereafter have much pleasure in your conversation.”
BOTTOM LINE: The Three Musketeers doesn’t have the same complexity and depth as The Count of Monte Cristo and so it’s not quite as satisfying. It is a really fun read and gives us some wonderful characters. Lady DiWinter is certainly one that I’ll never forget. I’m looking forward to reading some of the other books in the D'Artagnan series.
“It was one of those events which decide the life of a man; it was a choice between the king and the cardinal.”
“He gave a sigh for that unaccountable destiny which leads men to destroy each other for the interests of people who are strangers to them and who often do not even know that they exist.”