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Romance and other things



The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

When d’Artagnan goes to Paris to become a Musketeer, he embarks on a swashbuckling adventure with the legendary Porthos, Athos, and Aramis. If they wish to trump the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu, it’s got to be “all for one, one for all.”



Dear readers, some time ago (maybe few months, give or take, I am not sure) Robin posted something in the news post of the day here at DA something about the books that influenced you, that changed you. I am not even sure what it was – question, poll, I don’t remember. I however do remember thinking that I was having trouble coming up with the books that I felt made me a better person. I mean, it was easy for me to come up with the many excellent books that I loved, the stories and characters I remembered. I just was not sure if I ever read the book which taught me a direct life lesson, you know?  

But then I thought some more and I realized that “Three musketeers” definitely was one of those books. I saw Soviet movie based on the story when I was very young – probably as young as five and read the book for the first time couple years later. The friendship that musketeers and D’Artagnan shared made a deep impression on me and I think I learned/ decided that this is how I should be treating my friends in real life – to go extra mile for a friend, etc.

This is another book which I lost count how many times I reread over the years and another book which together with the sequel “Twenty years after” I brought with me when we came to live to the US. Because New York apparently did not have bookstores. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I am not even sure if I need to summarize the plot, because so many people saw the movies even if they have not read the books. Although don’t get me started on most of the movies.

In the foreword the author tells us that the book is based on the “Memoirs of Sir D’Artagnan” which he read – I wonder whether Duma really did want to add some non – fictional smell to the book or was he just having fun with the fictitious memoirs, but does it really matter?

Young Gaskony noble D’Artagnan comes to Paris because he wants to cover himself in glory as a musketeer and his father gives him a recommendation letter to De Treville, childhood friend of his father, who became the Captain of Musketeers for King Ludovik XIII.

Alas, almost right away our D’Artagnan gets involved in the adventure where he could have lost his life but instead all that he lost was the letter to De Treville. Dark haired man and beautiful woman took part in leaving D’Artagnan without that letter.

As you can imagine when our young man comes to De Treville, it is not as easy for D’Artagnan to make De Treville believe him and ask to join Musketeers. But De Treville offers to put a word for D’Artagnan into some kind of academy for young nobles. Not how D’Artagnan planned to start covering himself in glory. During the meeting with De Treville D’Artagnan sees the man who stole his recommendation letter from him in the fight and runs after him in the meantime D’Artagnan also manages to annoy Atos, Portos and Aramis for different reasons and all three of them call him out to fight duel at the same place but at different time.

D’Artagnan of course accepts it and does not really think he would survive the duel – he thinks one of the musketeers would eventually kill him.

Spoiler for those who did not see the movies or read the book – D’Artagnan survived and instead of dueling with the three musketeers all four of them got into the fight with the soldiers who served Cardinal Richelieu and from there on these four guys became inseparable.

The adventure that D’Artagnan got involved in – initially not very much by choice, really, became the adventure for all of them. Intrigues, deadly fights, love (although not a very happy love mostly) – this book has it all. And it has friendship, because they really did mean when they say “one for all and all for one”. If friend asks you to go to foreign country on a deadly errant,which you truly may not come back from alive, you go, just because friend asks for your help. But then when the errant is successful due to the fact that your friends had your back to the point that they were ready to die for you, you go back and find your friends and rescue them from whatever situation they got themselves into because they were helping you.

This was just one example of what musketeers were ready to do for each other – I do not think it is a spoiler that eventually D’Artagnan became musketeer too.

This book is a wonderful romp – the main characters were wonderful companions of my childhood and stayed with me through my adult life, but note they are not really romantic heroes. In some ways they are really flawed people. They for example all had servants and when D’Artagnan gets one, his friends suggest to him that the way to deal with his servant if he asks for a raise or wants to leave is to beat him so he would never think about doing that again. I believe D’Artagnan does it once and that is enough to teach his servant indeed not to do that, but beware if stuff like this may upset you. I also believe that it is mentioned that Athos beat his servant once when he spoke when he should not have – Athos required his servant to not talk unless in case of emergency and mostly spoke with him in gestures.

Another thing, as much as I love Athos and I do, I did not like how he treated his former wife in the past. I cannot be more specific, again, in case there are people who do not know the plot. Note though, I am perfectly okay with everything his former wife got in the present, I think she deserved that and so much more, but what happened in the past did bother me.

You know, I said that I love the book because of the friendship main characters share and this is true of course, but another reason why I love this book so much is because of what happens between D’Artagnan and Roshfor at the end. I love that respect is awarded to each other no matter on what side you are.

Grade: A