Besides we are men, and after all it is our business to risk our lives.
The Three Musketeers
By Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers tell 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 honour 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 17th-century France are vividly played out in the background.
The Three Musketeers is one of those classics that everyone is at least somewhat familiar with. The number of movies, television shows, and other other spin-offs that exist is truly staggering, but how many of us have actually read the source material?
This was my first time with the Musketeers, though Dumas and I were already well acquainted- The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my all-time favorite novels. I expected more of the same: adventure, romance, twists, and revenge. While The Three Musketeers delivered on most of those points, the degree was a bit lacking.
Sure, these guys are great duelists, and a grand conspiracy is afoot… but they are kind of crappy human beings. All of them. The heroes of the story have some awful character traits. I felt like their motivations were neither pure enough, nor do they go the route of full on evil. It’s a wonky middle zone that never got me fully invested. Dantes was a very flawed man in Monte Cristo, but his scheme was just so fantastic that you can root for his many anti-hero shortcomings. The titular Musketeers are just often jerks who murder people and have lots of affairs because they can. My emotional investment in these guys paled compared to Dantes, which made some of the twists and deaths fall flat.
In fact, the best parts of the novel, in my opinion, were the parts where no Musketeers were featured at all. Dumas creates a very compelling villain in Milady de Winter, and her interactions during Part II are some of the best scenes in the book. In contrast to her, the Musketeers and D’Artagnan seemed bland. I kind of wanted her to come out ahead, but in a fictionalized story about a real life French and British conflict I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Should You Read This?
It’s an interesting adventure, and it has much to say about the 17th Century state of affairs in France, but if you have time for only one hefty Dumas work, go with Monte Cristo.
If you have more time? Then sure, grab this too. It’s in the public domain so it’s free! My review probably reads like a downer, but it does have some great parts to it. It warrants a 3/5 rating for sure, but the lackluster main characters made it too uneven for me to go any higher.
Summary from Goodreads