(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.
6 thoughts on “The Three Musketeers (DNF)”
3 Musketeers was one of the earliest ‘advanced” books that I read as a child. I was in the 2nd grade. Probably the edition I read was a condensed simplified edition, yet still advanced for my grade level. I loved it and felt so grown up that I was reading a book like this. It set me on the road to reading classics and more advanced reading. Haven’t read Dumas since, so I’m not sure how I’d feel about the actual original edition of the book. Your points are well made.
An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out
I’ve always enjoyed the 1993 film adaptation (with Tim Curry as Richelieu, it was awesome!), but had never picked up the book until recently. The film did a much better job of hitting the high points—aka “the plot”—than did the book.
If you’re looking for adventure, why not try H. Rider Haggard?
(After looking him up on Wikipedia) I don’t know. I see “book set in Africa” and immediately my mind goes to Heart of Darkness, which I didn’t enjoy. Which of Haggard’s books is your favorite/would you recommend for a first-timer?
Aw, bummer, I love this book – not as much as the Count, but still a lot. It’s been years since I read it though and I’ve only read it once, so I can’t remember anything helpful in reference to your questions. I’m like you though, I hate giving up on a book, I always feel the need to finish it. I’ve got six though for a post on books I’ve recently decided to put to rest.
At least there are lots of books to choose from, from the 19th century. Maybe you’ve read all the obvious choices already, though – Austen, Thackeray, Gaskell, Brontes 1, 2 and 3, Dickens et al. And that’s just the British ones! Lots of French, Russian and other ones too. 🙂
I wanted to like it, but it just became like pulling teeth. I was disappointed for giving up, but it was keeping me from reading things like Oink and Hurt Go Happy, both of which were great.
I like the idea of doing a “DNF list” post. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint why you didn’t like a book, and it’s better to say “meh” six times in one post, than once in six separate ones. 🙂
I’ve read a lot of the “obvious” 19th century classics. Although I’ve been meaning to read Agnes Grey, so maybe that will suffice for the challenge. Thanks for the memory jog!