My First Classic Read

Once upon a time, Devin Stevens was assigned a summer read for his tenth grade advanced world literature class. The selection in question was Alexandre Duma’s The Three Musketeers. Devin finished the book in a week under a scorching hot sun. Little did he know he had just taken his first step into the world of the classics.

D’Artagnan is a young man in 1675 France who wishes to join the musketeers led by M. de Treville. Adventurous in heart, he meets three soldiers under Treville’s service: the religious Aramis, the flirtatious Porthos, and the mysterious Athos. At first, the three do not think D’Artagnan suitable for the chivalrous position, until he assists them in fighting off a regiment of guards. From then on, he becomes friends with them and begins to learn the ways of true swordsmanship.

D’Artagnan, while enjoying himself with his new comrades, soon unearths a secret kept from the king of France, namely, that the queen is having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. He falls in love with one of the queen’s servants, who begs him to help the queen avoid Louis XIV’s prying eyes.The reader also sees into the lives of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, even as he or she is following D’Artagnan’s adventures. Cardinal Richelieu, desiring the Queen’s secret to be discovered, plots against D’Artagnan and the musketeers, threatened by their ingenuity. He enlists the help of his female rogue, Milady, who develops a dangerous, personal feud with D’Artagnan. Richelieu also has the young man’s mistress kidnapped, prompting D’Artagnan to search hopelessly for her. As the novel rears towards its climax, the suspense builds to a pitch, including expected, and unexpected, conclusions.

If I could rate this book, I would give it a 4/5. The novel contains many different elements all interwoven together: romance, suspense, history, deception, adventure, you name it. Dumas definitely put a lot of work into making the book as multi-layered as possible. Looking back on it, there are several reasons as to why I need to reread it. First, as it was my first selection of classic literature, I didn’t see into the book as well as I could have, not being used to the deep vocabulary and historical events that classify most classics. Overall, though, it wasn’t as difficult a read as, say, Moby Dick, or The Sound and the Fury. Yet a reread wouldn’t hurt to better understand some of the plot elements, such as the relationship between the man in the red cloak and Milady. There was also the fact that D’Artagnan showed Cardinal Richelieu a fragment of a letter that got him out of trouble? I’m not so sure. My mind sort of zoned out during the time Milady tried to have the musketeers killed. But for the most part, I recall a lot of things I liked about the novel: the way Milady slowly escaped from a prison, D’Artagnan keeping France’s king from discovering his wife’s infidelity, the fact that D’Artagnan always lost hold of the mysterious “Stranger,” and the suspenseful conclusion where Milady is chased by the musketeers.The second reason I would need to reread this novel is because, apparently, it is the first of a series of books Dumas wrote about the musketeers. There are three (or maybe four or more books) in all. The last in the series is The Man in the Iron Mask. This one was turned into a wonderful film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As for the books that occur in between Musketeers and Mask, I believe one is called either Twenty Years After or Twenty Years Later. There may also be some stories in french titles which we as Americans have difficult access to. If I reread Musketeers, then I would definitely like to read all the books to get the full story of D’Artagnan and his friends.

I definitely see myself returning to Dumas in the future. For one, he wrote one book with another author about the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is my favorite Christmas story, so reading Duma’s take on the tale would be interesting. But of course, there is also The Count of Monte Cristo. This whopper of a book is around 1300-1500 pages, depending on what version you buy. From what I’ve heard of the story, it’s got all kinds of plots to it, creating one long story of suspense. I got my sights set on it for the future.

Check The Three Musketeers out. You will not be disappointed. It’s the pure definition of storytelling in its most balanced form.


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