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ClassicsOnline Home » DUMAS, A.: Three Musketeers (The) (Abridged)
In The Three Musketeers, one of the greatest adventure stories ever written, we follow the fortunes of the dashing young swordsman D’Artagnan and his daredevil companions Athos, Aramis and Porthos. As the thrilling story unfolds, ‘The Four’ find themselves embroiled in duels, love-tangles and sinister intrigues which threaten the future King, Queen and France herself.
The Three Musketeers
In The Three Musketeers we follow the heroic adventures of
the handsome young Gascon D’Artagnan, whose life is changed irrevocably when he
moves to Paris in 1626 and throws in his lot with the dauntless musketeers Athos,
Aramis and Porthos.
Like D'Artagnan, we are soon drawn to the three heroes. We
are amused by the gentle Aramis, a man of poetical mind but few words, whose
mysterious romances are arranged by the exchange of embroidered handkerchiefs
and perfumed letters, but whose avowed intention is to take holy orders. We
laugh aloud at the vainglorious and comical Porthos, whose greatest pleasure is
to parade his most exotic clothes in the streets of Paris, but who, for the
means to afford such finery, depends on his wealthy mistress. We share D
’Artagnan’s respect for the authority of his mentor, the aristocratic Athos,
whose control only slips occasionally when a good glass of Spanish wine is to
hand, and who is touched personally by some of the most dramatic twists to the
Despite their idiosyncrasies, these three are fearless
soldiers, and are happy to adopt the brave young D’Artagnan as their comrade.
He soon earns their respect as a swordsman and it is not long before he, too,
is wearing the much-prized uniform of a Musketeer.
“The Four” become embroiled in the furious rivalry between
King Louis XIII and the sly Cardinal Richelieu. Their swashbuckling
interventions in the romantic affairs of the Royal household actually affect
the outcome of the bloody struggle for supremacy between England and France,
culminating in the Siege of La Rochelle.
Only their quick thinking and skill with the sword save them time and
again from the sinister schemes of Richelieu and his friend, the beautiful and
dangerous Milady Clarik. The tale sweeps inexorably towards the final chapters
of the book, when, in scenes as thrilling as they are horrifying, revenges are
taken and justice is seen to be done. “The Four” continue their valorous
adventures in The Man in the Iron Mask.
Alexandre Dumas wrote or collaborated on nearly 100 plays
and many novels, including The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask and
The Count of Monte Cristo (all available on Naxos AudioBooks). He was born in
1802, the son of a general in Napoleon’s army and the grandson of a French
Marquis and a Saint Domingo Negress. As a child he lived through the upheavals
of the Napoleonic Revolution and the subsequent restoration of the monarchy of
France. He received his private education from a priest (like Monte Cristo). He
was politically active and, though he is thought to have rather embellished the
actions in his Mémoires, was involved heroically in skirmishes during the 1830
revolution. He was the father of author Alexandre Dumas (fils), most famous for
his The Lady of the Camellias. Alexandre Dumas (père) ran his career as an
industry. It is thought that he would sketch the outline of a story to an
assistant who would write it up; then Dumas himself would take the story by the
throat and wrestle it into a masterpiece. He was a generous, idiosyncratic and
fun-loving man who cooked brilliantly, gave a lot of money to cadgers and
hangers-on, and spent prodigiously on his private life, most notoriously on
various highly publicized affairs and the construction of a monstrous folly of
a house at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He died, just solvent, in 1870.
Notes by Bill Homewood
A familiar reader on Naxos AudioBooks, Bill Homewood is well
known for his innumerable television shows and leading credits in the West End,
major theaters and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has also directed theater
on both sides of the Atlantic, and his various writing credits include
Theatrical Letters, published by Marginalia.
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DUMAS, A.: Three Musketeers (The) (Abridged)