Author: Alexandre Dumas
First Published: 1844
Page Count: 626
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 of The d’Artagnan Romances
One of the original adventure stories that comes off a bit tame compared to other literary options for readers looking for sword slashing fun.
*Tame action story *Slow beginning *Anti-heros
“Besides we are men, and after all it is our business to risk our lives.” D’Artagnan has set off from his childhood home for Paris in the hopes of joining the famed Musketeers, a troop sworn to protect the king of France. Along the way, he befriends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, a trio of friends who just happen to be favorites among the Musketeers. They soon become allies and set off on a myriad of adventures that will pit them up against the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu, the mysterious man of Meung, and the seductive Lady de Winter.
After a month of intense wedding planning (and, I’ll admit, a week of binge watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix), I finally sat my butt down and finished this book. I’ll also admit that after getting a good hundred pages into the book and not loving it, I wasn’t very motivated to keep reading which also delayed this review. Therefore, I’ll start with what I didn’t like about it since we’re on the subject. Maybe it was my childhood adoration of the Charlie Sheen film adaptation of this book that I constantly persuaded my mom to rent whenever we went to the local movie rental store, or maybe it was my interpretation of who the Musketeers were based on how they appear in our culture that threw me off when I read this book. The Musketeers in the book are kind of jerks. Sure they do save the day, dress to impress, make the ladies swoon, and sword fight like pros, but they also stomp around like teenage boys hyped up by their raging hormones looking to pick a fight. They’re cocky bullies who don’t limit they’re antics to just the Cardinal’s men. I prefer my heroes to only fight when protecting the innocent or when they are fighting to save their own lives. All the smart talk from the four main characters really darkened my childhood idea of who the Musketeers are. On top of that, the story itself was tame and extremely slow. The beginning is really about random side missions the Musketeers take on which eventually, and I mean three to four hundred pages later, lead the reader to their main adventure.
The book really picks up when Lady de Winter becomes a firm part of the story. She is introduced in the beginning but we really don’t see this deliciously vain and sinister seductress until much later. I was dead set on giving this story one star because I was so bored, but her dramatic flair and vengeful tendencies piqued my interest enough not to totally trash the book. Once she’s placed on center stage a lot of back story about each Musketeer is revealed and the plot picks up steam. I only wish Dumas had spent more time on her (and Cardinal Richelieu) because this story is driven by villains just as much as it is by the swashbuckling Musketeers.
I’m surprised at how much I didn’t like this book, but it is what it is. I grew up loving the films and I’m a huge fan of classic literature; this should have been a home run. However, the Musketeers in this book didn’t mesh with the Musketeers that I grew up watching. Their attitudes, at least at the beginning of the book, were way too cocky for my taste. I also thought the Cardinal would be more of a main villain based on his central roles in the films, but his influence was of an invisible nature compared to the outright murderous actions of Lady de Winter. While I loved her role in the book, I wanted a more villainous Cardinal to share the spotlight with her. This is a hefty book so read at your own peril, especially if you’re on the fence about reading the story or a classic book. They can be tough to get through if you just can’t fall in love with the story.
*Film Adaptation: (Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson 2011, Starring Charlie Sheen 1993, Starring Oliver Reed 1973, Starring Lana Turner 1948, Starring Adolphe Menjou 1921, Starring Don Ameche 1939, Starring Jack Mulhall 1933,) TV Adaptation: (Starring Jeremy Brett 1966)