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Old 08-22-2008, 05:52 AM   #1
HarryT
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Post Dumas, Alexandre: D'Artagnan Romances, Vol 1. v2, 22 Aug 2008

Everyone is familiar with The Three Musketeers, thanks to the many movies which have been made of this book, some of them sharing little more than the name in common with the actual book

What some people may be unaware of is that The Three Musketeers is merely the first (small) part of a set of three books called, as a whole, the D'Artagnan Romances, which collectively tell the life story of D'Artagnan, who appears as a young man in The Three Musketeers. The book is, like its main protagonist, of truly heroic proportions. If you think that War and Peace or The Lord of the Rings would be quite good if only they were longer, this is the series for you .

This gets a bit complicated, so pay attention (there will be a test at the end)...

The D'Artagnan Romances consists of three books:

1. The Three Musketeers.
2. Twenty Years After (set 20 years after The Three Musketeers).
3. The Vicomte de Bragelonne (set 10 years after part 2 - ie 30 years after The Three Musketeers).

OK, so far, so good. Where it gets complicated is that the final book in the series is a truly gargantuan work, and is generally published split into either 3, 4, or 5 separate volumes. This edition uses the four volume version, and these four volumes are called, respectively:

3a. The Vicomte de Bragelonne.
3b. Ten Years Later.
3c. Louise de la Valliere.
3d. The Man in the Iron Mask.

Where things get complicated is that The Vicomte de Bragelonne can refer to either the whole of this third book, or just to the first volume of it. Moreover, it is subtitled Ten Years Later, so once again this title can refer to the whole book or just the second volume of it. Finally, just to confuse matters, The Man in the Iron Mask is often printed as a "self-contained" novel, and can be split up in quite a different manner from the 4-part split described above.

Phew...

Hope that's clear to everyone .

Anyway, back to the plot. What I'm going to do is issue the whole series in FOUR volumes, as follows:

Vol 1 - The Three Musketeers (this book).
Vol 2 - Twenty Years After.
Vol 3 - The first two parts of the complete Vicomte de Bragelonne; ie The Vicomte de Bragelonne and Ten Years Later.
Vol 4 - The final two parts of the complete Vicomte de Bragelonne; ie Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask.

That should be enough to keep even the keenest reader going for a while.

I should add, by the way, that this is a wonderful series. I've read it many times, and never tire of it. It's best to read it straight through, if you can.

The plot, for those not familiar with it:

The year is 1625. The young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris at the tender age of 18, and almost immediately offends three musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos. Instead of dueling, the four are attacked by five of the Cardinal's guards, and the courage of the youth is made apparent during the battle. The four become fast friends, and, when asked by D'Artagnan's landlord to find his missing wife, embark upon an adventure that takes them across both France and England in order to thwart the plans of the Cardinal Richelieu. Along the way, they encounter a beautiful young spy, named simply Milady, who will stop at nothing to disgrace Queen Anne of Austria before her husband, Louis XIII, and take her revenge upon the four friends.

Enjoy - the other volumes to follow shortly.
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