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Four Stars

the three musketeersA classic that I haven’t read since I was ten. I remember devouring it on a transatlantic flight and really enjoying myself as the hours flew by. It was just as much fun this time. It’s a bit on the fluffy side, so not as weighty as some of the other classics, but that’s part of its charm.

It’s actually pretty fast-paced for a book from that time-period (1844), and even though there are some interludes that briefly take you out of the action, they don’t come close to anything like Hugo’s excursions to Waterloo or the Paris Sewers. Maybe Dumas wasn’t being paid by the word.

I was particularly struck by how well-drawn and appealing the main characters are. D’Artagnan of course, is an all-around delightful guy, whose adventures anyone would like to follow, but the characters of the musketeers are also well-drawn and sympathetic; even the somewhat ridiculous Porthos who usually plays for laughs is capable of pathos.

In addition, Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke of Buckingham are enjoyable foils to the boys.

I’m just not altogether pleased with the female characters. While Lady de Winter is delightfully bad, there seems to be a bit of madonna/whore dichotomy going on vis-a-vis the nearly saintly Constance Bonanceaux. Well, as saintly as a married woman who agrees to secret assignations with a man not her husband can be. But, she’s French, so it’s okay.

I was actually reading this by way of research for a novel I’m working on. Even though it will be fantasy, it’s set in that time period, and I was hoping to catch some period-sounding dialogue. Alas! I don’t think it will work, unless I want my book to sound kinda silly. I guess I’ll have to come up with my own lingo.

Still, now I’m interested in re-reading some of Dumas’ other great works like The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask.