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                        BOOK REVIEW -ALEXANDER DUMAS – THE THREE MUSKETEERS. 1844 Penguin Books 

 

One of the greatest ever sword and musket swashbucklers. D’Artanian is sent to join the musketeers serving the French King. D’Artanian is brave, but stubborn. His Father’s little horse attracts laughter and reacting to it gets D’Artanian into a feud with the bullying rogue Roquefort, (which will go on throughout the book and its sequels). It is in pursuit of Roquefort that D’Artanian ends up accidentally banging into three established musketeers, Athos, Porthos & Aramis, who each independently challenge him to a duel. When he goes to the first of the duels, the three Musketeers are together, but the duel itself is interrupted by an assault by men involved in a conspiracy arranged by the dangerous and beautiful Milady De winter. D’Artanian helps the musketeer’s ward of the attack and becomes their friend. He then finds himself seduced into De winter’s schemes, endangering himself and his friends. One of them, Athos has been a lover of De Winter himself and knows how evil she can be. The story moves neatly between irreverent high spirits and genuine thrill and danger. The Musketeers fake a fight among themselves in a tavern in order to rob the place for a free meal. Later, they become involved in a fortress siege at which they prop up dead men in the turrets to make it look as if there are more men guarding the castle than there are in order to survive.  The story gets progressively darker in tone as it goes. D’Artanian discovers that De Winter plans to assassinated Duke Of Buckingham, and the Musketeers assist him in getting through heavy security in a desperate doomed attempt to save the Duke. De Winter is arrested and placed in a cell guarded by a man called Fenton chosen for being incorruptible by her beguiling seductive charms. De Winter gives Fenton such a fantastic tale of woe that she ends up with him eager to kill Buckingham on her behalf. (A man called Fenton who was a disgruntled sailor, rather than a prison guard in fact murdered him).

As a result of her evil, but lacking proof, the musketeers arrange her execution in a very vigilance style attack. They end the story haunted and scarred by the fact that they have had to kill a woman without a trial.  In an underrated sequel, twenty Years After, De-Winter’s son seeks revenge for this action, and the story draws the Musketeers through the French Thirty Years war and the English Civil war too. D’Artanian and his old enemy Roquefort finally give up feuding, to become friends, only to accidentally kill each other in a fog shrouded skirmish later. It is a fitting end to an adventure of huge delight that still surpasses all of its various film versions. http://www.online-literature.com/dumas/threemusketeers/

 

Arthur Chappell

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