The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas


Goodreads: The Three Musketeers
Series: The Three Musketeers #1
Source: Gift
Published: 1844


Nineteen-year-old D’Artagnan arrives in Paris to become the king’s Musketeer and make his fortune.  However, before he even arrives, he sets in motion a series of events that makes him the enemy of Cardinal Richelieu.  Only with his three fast friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, will he be able to outwit his enemies, serve the queen, and save his own life.

Star Divider


In many ways, The Three Musketeers is an overly dramatic, even somewhat ridiculous story.  On the surface, it appears to be about honor and loyalty.  D’Artagnan and his friends serve the queen (and sometimes maybe the king, when he is not opposed to the queen) and fight the cardinal.  They would die in the line of duty.  However, in reality, the plot is driven primarily by D’Artagnan’s hot-headedness and pride, making his near-deaths almost a bit of pointless farce.  Still, D’Artagnan and his friends exude a carefree joy, a delight in adventure, and a fearless loyalty to each other that make the story a pleasure to read.

In many ways, the story of The Three Musketeers does not bear up to much scrutiny.  It seems to celebrate D’Artagnan’s ingenuity and devotion in serving his country.  But D’Artagnan initially sets out to serve king and cardinal, not knowing that the two are, in fact, opposed to each other, each trying to rule the country in their own name.  He becomes a king’s man almost by accident–simply because he has a fight with a cardinal’s man and because he decides to join the Musketeers, who happen to serve the king.  And his real devotion ultimately shows itself serving the queen–who is ill-treated by her husband and, consequently, having an adulterous affair with the Duke of Buckingham.  D’Artagnan’s reasons for covering up the queen’s affair?  He knows he might be rewarded.  All in all, D’Artagnan’s tale is one of a youth who seems to fall into all his roles by sheer accident.  If anything about it is admirable, it is his sheer determination to see his tasks through, no matter how arbitrary they seem.

In fact, Dumas himself is not unaware of the irony of D’Artagnan’s situation.  The story repeatedly points out how the fates of the small are determined by the whims of the great.  D’Artagnan and his friends are fully disposable to those whom they serve. If he dies in his quest to save the queen’s reputation, she will neither know nor care.  Meanwhile, the Duke of Buckingham is even more cavalier with the lives of those under him.  Simply to get the queen’s attention, he starts a war between France and England.  Although they seem to glory in their fighting roles and to take pride in their uniforms and what those uniforms represent, in the end, D’Artagnan and the Musketeers are merely pawns in someone else’s game.

Perhaps it is because they know this that the Musketeers are so devoted to each other.  Living or dying for the king or the queen has some small, theoretical significance–they will know they have done their duty.  But living and dying for each other really means something.  It is the proof of the love and the mutual respect they have for each other.  If one of them dies, the others will care, and they will seek revenge.  It is this friendship that ultimately lies at the heart of the story and that makes it worth reading.

The Three Musketeers is an exciting tale full of swashbuckling adventures mixed with a little bit of mystery and a dash of intrigue.  Readers looking for a fun story that does not take itself overly seriously will love the first installment in Dumas’ Musketeer series.

4 stars