21
Apr
11

CR3 #32: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I have an embarrassing confession to make: I LOVE the Disney version of The Three Musketeers. I love it, even though fully 1/2 of the leads are potentially violent children of Hollywood with multiple arrests and a history of substance abuse. I love it even though the actor playing the main character has all the charm and personality of a mung bean. I love it even though there are endless sword fights and yet no one ever loses a single drop of blood, even after being run through. The whole thing is an adorable fairy tale. I always assumed that it is totally historically inaccurate, and figured that it probably deviated from the plot of the book somewhat, because that is how Disney does things. Little did I know…

The main characters–who are named D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis–meet when D’Artagnan arrives in town and accidentally agrees to a duel with each of the other on the same day. There are international plots and a dark lady involved. The Cardinal Richelieu is very shady.

Here is where the similarities end.

The novel is a complex story full of intrigue, plotting, and murder. It is also a humorous tale of friendship, struggle, and doing almost anything for money. The characters are distinct, though sometimes leaning toward caricature. The plot for the most part moves along, though there are several sections that drag–it’s a tough transition to go from murder plots and kidnappings into three chapters about how the musketeers scammed money to pay for more horses. However, the characters were entertaining enough to keep me reading until the main plot picked up again.

This book was more challenging–on a purely literary note–that most of what I’ve been reading for the past several years. Dumas’s language and sentence structure is decidedly early 19th century, which meant there were passages I had to read more than once to understand–a true rarity for me. It was nice to be reading some “classic literature” though, and as far as that goes, the plot and characters were a lot more fun and relateable than, say, Melville or Hawthorne (IMHO).

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to read something classic, but has a hard time with some of the more preachy or stately works. This is definitely a rollicking adventure story.

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