(I read this book as part of the Back to the Classics Challenge.)
“First published in 1844, Alexandre Dumas’s swashbuckling epic chronicles the adventures of D’Artagnan, a gallant young nobleman who journeys to Paris in 1625 hoping to join the ranks of musketeers guarding Louis XIII. He soon finds himself fighting alongside three heroic comrades—Athos, Porthos, and Aramis—who seek to uphold the honor of the king by foiling the wicked plots of Cardinal Richelieu and the beautiful spy “Milady.” As Clifton Fadiman reflected, “We read The Three Musketeers to experience a sense of romance and for the sheer excitement of the story. In these violent pages all is action, intrigue, suspense, surprise—an almost endless chain of duels, murders, love affairs, unmaskings, ambushes, hairbreadth escapes, wild rides. It is all impossible and it is all magnificent.” (Goodreads)
I’ve been trying for the past week-and-a-half to get into this book, and it’s just not happening, for three main reasons:
- Who is this? I can’t easily tell the characters apart. The Musketeers themselves (Aramis, Athos, and Porthos) all kind of blend together — I’d be reading about something happening to one of them and I’d think, “Now is he the priest guy?”
- What’s the point? I could never find the plot. I was 156 pages in and I still had no real idea of what the main plot was supposed to be. All these things were happening, most of which didn’t seem related to a main plot; but since I didn’t know what the plot was, I couldn’t safely ignore any details.
- Why? I couldn’t figure out the characters’ motivations. The Musketeers hate the Cardinal and his men, but I could never find a reason why — other than that they’re loyal to the king. There’s no evidence of the Cardinal’s usurping power (at least not within the first 156 pages), and it seems everyone is happy to swing away with their swords and murder people for no apparent reason.
I rarely DNF (Do Not Finish) a book, because I enjoy most of what I read. Not because I love a wide range of genres necessarily, but because I tend to stay in my reading comfort zone — I rarely dislike a book because I rarely pick up anything I don’t think I’ll like. And even if I’m not in love with a book, my OCD simply won’t let me leave something unread.
But at page 156, with the prospect of having to read the other 520 pages looming, I gave up; I did skim the last few (blessedly short) chapters to read the epilogue. Now I just have to find another 19th century classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Any suggestions?
So, my first DNF here at the blog. I don’t know whether to be disappointed in my dedication, or proud of myself that I set aside a book I didn’t like in order to pick up one I’m enjoying.