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on 27 July 2017
The musketeers' second adventure, set 20 years after their first, this outdoes their initial outing in terms of scope, political impact and effect: for this time both France and England are in the middle of populist revolts, the first Fronde in Paris, Cromwell's war against the monarchy in England.

Dumas does a wonderful job of inserting our foursome into the known events of history and even though we know the outcomes, there are moments where we almost believe things can be different, a huge testament to Dumas' grip on our imagination.

This time round all the musketeers are twenty years older and their characters are given more depth, especially those of the noble, gracious but world-weary Athos, and febrile, highly-strung Aramis. D'Artagnan is as cunning as ever and Porthos adds comic relief with his massive strength and ever-empty stomach!

The politics are perhaps more complex here, putting the musketeers on opposite sides when the book opens. A new villain emerges, Mordaunt, the son of Milady; and Raoul, Athos' adopted son, allows Dumas to show a paternal side to the foursome.

This is superb story-telling and while the musketeers part at the end, luckily we know they'll be back in The Vicomte de Bragelonne.

* This review is from the Oxford World's Classics edition with its fluent translation and excellent notes on the political context.
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on 17 October 2017
Yeah, an excellent followup to the Three Musketeers. I never had a doubt it would be anything but. One small irk... perhaps this is more to do with me. Way too many names to remember and don't get me started on pronunciation of all those French words. I normally make up my own versions of the words, much easier to get on that way. Still I'm now a massive fan of Alexandre Dumas- I'm already ready to jump back in to book 3 in the series. AND to think this was also FREE.
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on 21 October 2017
I did not know what to expect when I started this book. However once it began I couldn't put it down. I would highly recommend this book. I am sure the 4 musketers will ride again
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on 18 May 2014
It was even better than the Three Musketeers. Should such a thing be possible. Barely a moment to pause for breath and you learnt a lot more about Athos, Aramis and Porthos and of course D'Artagnan. Their characters stood out on the page. Dumas' descriptions, particularly of Athos, Comte de le Fere were almost poetic and I felt he must have known someone who had the qualities he described in such loving detail.

Exciting and perfect for anyone who loves France and England, history and Musketeers. None of it is tedious or dull as so many writers of the time could be. He certainly knew how to keep the reader's interest. A shame more writer's dirge on endlessly over nothing very much.

I am English but live in France and know very well all the places he refers to.
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on 19 March 2013
The free Kindle edition is absolutely awful. The formatting, centred text rather than left justified, is unpleasant to read while the translation is incomplete, inaccurate and very, very hard going. I gave up part way through and downloaded the Gutenberg edition instead. It's not perfect but it's a lot easier to read.
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on 2 November 2015
I've been meaning to read the sequel to 'The Three Musketeers' for years and have only just got round to it. Ripping story, as you'd expect, where Dumas incorporates historical figures into the plot and demonstrates what an insightful writer he was - the characterisation of the four friends and the changes that they've undergone (or perhaps that their differences have simply become more apparent) is masterful. With the cunning D'Artagnan (and his mates, yes, but he's still the best) pitted against the machinations of Mazarin, this is an insightful, witty and philosophical account of the French and other European courts, as much as a fine adventure in its own right. No wonder Dumas is the most widely read French author. Enjoy. Note how this review did not reveal the plot - or go on and on and on....
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on 3 October 2009

'Twenty Years After' is the lesser-known sequel to the world-famous 'The Three Musketeers'. First published in serialised form from January-August, 1845, the book appeared only one year after its renowned predecessor, despite the action taking place two decades later. Those expecting Dumas' sequel to be a facsimile of the original swashbuckler must have been somewhat perplexed by the more unconventional approach given to the musketeers' middle age. Indeed, 'Twenty Years After' is a sprawling tale, lacking the unity of the original, not only in terms of a coherent narrative, but also via the disunity between the four main players; D'Artagnan, Porthos, Athos and Aramis. Whereas 'The Three Musketeers' has been truncated and adapted on countless occasions and may have an undeserved reputation as a "children's classic" (Those familiar with the downfall of Milady would rightly dispute this!), it is hard to imagine how the sequel could be similarly condensed and sanitised.

On one level, in 'Twenty Years After' (TYA) the reader has to give Dumas credit for not regurgitating his original. The decision to set the story the full twenty years after 'The Three Musketeers' (TTM) allows us to discover how the lead characters have changed in such time. Only D'Artagnan seems to have retained a genuinely youthful vigour despite his failure to rise up to the higher echelons of the military. The early chapters offer a useful summary of the key events of TTM, and the plot device (the scheming of the underhand Cardinal Mazarin) to bring the four back together is well-handled. The first appearance of Aramis is written with real comic flair. However, perhaps the greatest frustration of the novel in its entirety, is the lack of interaction and camaraderie between all four musketeers which made its predecessor such a joy. Throughout most of the story, our heroes operate in pairs (D'Artagnan with Porthos and Athos with Aramis), fighting on different sides. Certainly this adds to the story's increased emphasis upon characterisation by focusing on the dilemma between choosing duty over friendship. And yet, the previous interplay is just not there. Even as we approach the conclusion, it is prison bars which separate the men, even when their cause seems united.

Nevertheless, where the novel works, it works brilliantly. Mordaunt, embittered son of Milady, as the principle villain, weaves a dark presence throughout the core of the story. He is a scheming 'baddie', hell-bent on gaining revenge upon his mother's executioners. There is almost a 'Terminator'-style detachment to his ruthless pursuit of vengeance. His menace is a bonding force for the musketeers, and one feels that, until Morduant is finished off, our heroes are in real danger.

As in the original, the action set pieces are told with breath-taking energy, both on sea and on land. Dumas is at his best when he truly engages his heroes. The passages detailing the demise of King Charles I in battle and the attempts to rescue the fallen monarch are delivered with real panache.

Mention of England's executed King highlights another of TYA's characteristics; the lack of a consistent narrative. Whereas TTM was principally about the attempt to conceal Queen Anne's ill-advised affair with Buckingham and save royal honour, the task of writing a blurb for TYA is not an easy one. Is the key plot Queen Anne's escape from a volatile Paris? The thwarted attempt to rescue King Charles I? The contest between the musketeers and Mordaunt? The intrigues against Cardinal Mazarin? The list goes on. Dumas described history as the "peg" upon which he held his stories. It would be churlish to criticise the great story-teller for his historical inaccuracies (Milady's deranged son as Charles' executioner!). However, there seems to be so much going on in both England and France throughout the novel, that it is, at times, hard to keep up with the volley of names, intrigues and events.

However, despite the criticisms, TYA is a brave sequel which hits far more than it misses. In such a way it resembles 'Rupert of Henzau', Anthony Hope's darker and more controversial sequel to 'The Prisoner of Zenda'. Both 'Henzau' and TYA ignore the established formula and offer something genuinely original. This decision is commendable, and TYA is well-worth reading for its fresh approach to the musketeers saga which will continue with 'The Vicomte of Bregalonne', 'Louise De La Valliere' and the more famous, 'The Man In The Iron Mask'. The closing lines of TYA (delivered by D'Artagnan) set up the further novels with cinematic sparkle. Yet, it is telling that he does not say them to Porthos, Athos or Aramis, whose company he again lacks at the finale. Am I being greedy to just have wanted a little more "All for one"? 7/10
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on 12 January 2016
I have read this book several times and wanted a kindle copy. The musketeer stories need to be read. There have been some good film versions (in particular the Oliver Reed , Michael York films were very true to the books), but the books are best, exciting and funny. The musketeers characters are beautifully drawn, each so different they really shouldn't be friends, but they are, and this is the essence of the stories. If you get to book 5, The Man in the Iron Mask (and it really bears very little resemblance to any film or tv version) be ready with the tissues! But this book, 20 years after is probably my favourite.
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on 2 June 2014
Loved the story - read after The Three Musketeers. A really super sequel BUT it was not a great translation - words like "Zounds" littered throughout. Appreciate trying to stay faithful to the original but it came over a stilted, and, quite frankly, laughable in places (where you weren't supposed to laugh). I did not mind that some of the footnotes were at the end of the chapters, there weren't many of them and didn't get in my way. It was a bit up and down in terms of slow / fast pace, and sometimes the background historic parts felt a little laboured. All that being said, well worth a read.
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on 28 June 2016
I enjoyed this book. The characters being twenty years older but still essentially the same was very charming. We see the cheeky Gascon being somewhat more jaded and worldly wise but at his heart he stills clings to his old values. They all prioritise their comradeship over politics and conspiracy.
I found the values endearing and the idea that when they stood together they could conquer all.
"All for one and one for all" so as to speak.
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