Few books have been so widely adapted to films as this masterpiece of cloak and dagger, doubtless the most famous from Dumas, apart from The count of Montecristo, which will probably rank second in his repertoire.
What the average person has got in mind is the popular history revisited over and over again in more than 30 or 40 films. Both original novels –for The three musketeers is only the first and best-known part of a whole trilogy– and subsequent film versions have in common the body of the plot, although it is only the first big adventure of D’Artagnan –that is, the one of Buckinghman’s diamond studs delivery– which persistently appears movie after movie.
An aspect rarely neglected in the film versions that reflects well the feeling of displacement is the arrival of a provincial D’Artganan at the city of Paris, yet a rushing metropoli up to that epoch, being this foreigner’s solitude a sensation overrepeated a thousand times here and there. But the aparent naivety of the young would-be musketter is not so real in the novel, for the Gascon is brave and resolute and, although not familiar to the customs of the Court, determined in his matters and soon affairs of other kind.
Much of the plot is ruled through luck and coincidence, being this way sometimes difficult to believe, but in general facts are fisible and, as we will know much later, logical under the eyes of the Big Brother of the era, Monsieur Cardinal Richelieu, the baddie behind the scenes. And the ending of the book seems solved sort of hastily. Milady Clarick’s perfidy has no limits, we all know that, but we don’t need five chapters to get convinced of that, nor did por Felton, the integral puritan corrupted by her beauty and manipulation into assassinating the Duke of Buckinham and freeing her at the same blow.
And the execution of the Countess de la Fere, aka Milady, whereas essential to the plot, has nothinh heroic on it so it’s frequently excluded in filmed versions. As for the men of Meung, his apparitions are crucial and very mysterious, but the long-awaited duel with the main character actually necer takes place in the novel, and is only referred to in the epilogue.
The book hooks you and ask for more pages to devour, but I don’t think I will take the second part Twenty years later. For now I have had enough of cloak and dagger stuff. Maybe in 2033.