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Dumas does it again!
on 13 June 2000
The beginning of the end. This is the final instalment of the musketeers trilogy, and this is no doubt where much confusion arises. After the completion of The Three Musketeers in 1844 and Twenty Years After in 1845 Dumas once again returned to the musketeers for one final outing. Published in serial form between 1847 and 1850 The Vicomte De Bragelonne is a massive work. So massive in fact that it is normally not published as one edition (as is the case with the current Oxford edition). Instead it is split into three parts, the first part of which is, confusingly, normally called The Vicomte De Bragelonne. The second and third parts are given the titles Louise De La Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask respectively. Thus while the first part can be read alone it will feel incomplete, also the second and third parts should not be read out of order as they will not make sense.
Once again Dumas grounds his action is history. The time is ten years after Twenty Years After; D'Artagnan and Athos both wish the restoration of the English monarchy, Cardinal Mazarin is falling ill and Louis 14th is coming of age.
This is the brilliant story we have come to expect from Dumas however it is worth pointing out that the musketeers play a much smaller role than they have done previously, indeed Porthos barely appears in the first instalment. However the book is as gripping, vivid, thrilling and entertaining as ever.