The Three Musketeers is an action-packed classic with elements of romance and political intrigue. It's filled with engaging characters, from the hothead D'Artagnan to the soulful Athos and the evil Milady, a brilliantly sketched female villain. Milady is the perfect femme fatale—beautiful, but without a shred of goodness. D'Artagnan, on the other hand, is an inexperienced young man trying to make it in the world. Although he's not particularly brilliant or gifted, he's very likable, tumbling in and out of love and rushing headlong into life.
The story begins with D'Artagnan leaving home to seek his fortune. His idea is to become one of the King's musketeers and he has a letter of introduction from his father that might help him to accomplish this aim. However, on the way to Paris, D'Artagnan is beaten up and his letter stolen, the culprit being the Comte de Rochefort who works for Cardinal Richelieu, a powerful man who is ostensibly on the King's side but secretly working against him.
D'Artagnan manages to reach Paris but without the letter of introduction, he can't become a musketeer. And to make metters worse, he now falls into the bad graces of the three musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis - and engages to fight duels with each of them, one after the other. The Cardinal's men catch the three musketeers and D'Artagnan trying to duel and attempt to arrest them, upon which the three musketeers and D'Artagnan join forces and defeat them, even though they are outnumbered. This fighting in unison cements a friendship between the three musketeers and D'Artagnan, who manages to get a place in a different regiment.
After this, the four friends set about trying to prevent a war between England and France by retrieving the jewels that the French Queen gave to the Duke of Buckingham. They meet many evildoers on their way, including Milady but they finally manage to get the jewels back and prevent a war. However, Milady, who was out to kill Buckingham, eventually succeeds in this aim, getting someone else to do the dirty work for her. She also kills D'Artagnan's sweetheart, leaving it up to the three musketeers and D'Artagnan to make sure she comes by her just desserts.
Alexandre Dumas was a man who never did things by halves. He wrote extensively, at first producing plays which were very successful and later, novels, which were published in serial form in journals read by the public. The Three Musketeers was enormously successful, with people standing in line waiting for the journal to become available. Another of Dumas' famous works, which has become a classic, is The Count of Monte Cristo, a tale of deception and intrigue. Altogether, Dumas wrote a total of 100,000 published pages. Although he was married, he had nearly 40 affairs and four illegitimate children, one of whom, known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son) went on to become a well-known writer himself. Dumas' story is an inspiring one because he was partly black and often faced discrimination from his contemporaries, but he rose above all this to become one of the best-known writers of his time.
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