Top positive review
"At this game, whoever does not kill is killed"
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.