Title: The Three Musketeers
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Narrator: Simon Vance
Publication Year: 1844
Pages: 560 (audio length: 22 hours 45 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
This historical romance, perhaps the greatest cloak-and-sword story ever written, relates the adventures of four fictional swashbuckling heroes who loyally served the French kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV.
When the dashing young D’Artagnon arrives in Paris from Gascony, he becomes embroiled in three duels with the Three Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. But when he proves himself by fighting not against, but with, the Three Musketeers, they form a quick and lasting friendship. The daring escapades of the four pit them against a master of intrigue, Cardinal Richelieu, and the quintessential wicked woman, Lady de Winter.
The concept of the three musketeers is entrenched in our pop culture, especially with so many movies about them coming out during my childhood and teen years (The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask are just two that I remember).
Until now, I hadn’t gotten around to reading the original books – the D’Artagnon Romances – that these are based on. And now I’m so glad that I have! There’s much more detail and nuance to the stories than a movie could ever portray, even if they had been made completely faithful to the source text. I feel like there’s a bit of the history of literature that I’m now more privy to than I was before.
The narrative of The Three Musketeers starts a bit slowly, to be honest, but once all of the characters are introduced it becomes hard to put down. There are some fantastically evil antagonists going on – particularly the Lady de Winter, but also the Cardinal – that help to balance out the four main characters. I wished at times that I had gotten a bit more in depth into the secondary characters, as sometimes they seemed a bit like plot devices rather than real people (such as the Duke), but I suppose they weren’t really the main focus and it’s hard to go more in depth on so many characters when the original text was being published in serial form.
There were some really great swashbuckling adventures in this book, which I normally find that I skim over, but here I listened right through all of them. Vance did a great job with the narration and really kept up the energy of the book, which is very important when the audio is as long as this one. He also made a valiant effort to help the reader differentiate between the many characters’ voices, something which I think he became better at in later audiobooks in the series, to be honest. But to be fair, that might not be through any fault of his, perhaps simply that the characters became more distinct in later books or that I simply find older books a little harder to follow than most people.
If you haven’t picked up the series, I highly recommend that you do so. I’m a little sad that I waited so long to read The Three Musketeers, though I am very glad that I waited until adulthood. I’m not at all sure that I would have stuck with any of these books when I was younger as they’re rather long and the prose is
sometimes often overly flowery, stodgy, and/or descriptive. But by coming to this story a bit later in life, I feel like I was more able to enjoy them and also to catch more of the political and social commentary and historical references than I would have been able to understand years ago. At any rate, if you haven’t already read the books, go ahead and give them a try. I can say that they definitely weren’t as intimidating as I was expecting them to be.