The Three Musketeers was a blast.--That's not a crummy joke. There was very little musket fire, as I'm sure most folks will know, even without reading this book.--The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my all time favorites, so it may seem a little odd that I haven't read this next-most-popular Alexandre Dumas novel (the third being The Man in the Iron Mask) but I've always felt that the characters were just too over exposed. I mean, a candy bar? Come on. But I got over it. And seeing a one dollar copy in good shape recently, sealed the deal. What really put me over the top tho was that I brought it along as a back-up on a recent trip to Italy. So when I finished my first book (Hyperion) I jumped right into the Musketeers. What a ball. I couldn't put it down. I read at breakfast. I read in bed. I read while my family took a siesta at midday when it was 100 outside.
Dumas wrote for serial publication, as many of his contemporaries did, each chapter moves the story forward and leaves the reader hungering for the next installment. Dumas really had that down and he knew he did. Dumas also speaks directly to his readers, not just in the authors note, where he describes how his fiction is based on the true memoirs of a real musketeer named d'Artagnan, but along the way as well. One can almost imagine him telling the story to us after dinner, perhaps around a fire, with a cigar or a small glass of muscatel. Don't worry, he tells us, I haven't forgotten so-and-so, we'll get back to them soon enough.
Dumas seems fascinated by heroes who make their own way in world, and create their own fortunes. He also has no trouble showing the darker side of men, even his heroes, and the lengths they will go to to insure that justice is done and righteousness is upheld. This may be because of his own upbringing, and his father's struggles to make his fortune, and even his own money problems, which seem to plague his career.
Whatever the impetus, Dumas breathes real life and a love of living into his heroes that makes him a joy to read. The Three Musketeers was no exception.
Read this book... in Italy. [France is probably fine too, I guess.]