Dumas concludes his masterpiece series on the Musketeers with one for all time. After reading the interesting but at times lagging two volumes that lead up to Mask and the conclusion of the Musketeers saga, it is easy to see why this is the best known of the books. Dumas pulls out every writer's trick he knows, and they are considerable. Humor, action, intrigue, suspense, surprise, drama, and finally tragedy kept me flipping pages as fast as I could read them, even on a weekend trip to Oxford while working in the UK..
I had never read the book or seen any of the movies based on it, but I knew, as I think most people do, the general outline of the account. The man in the mask is a contender or pretender for the throne of France, and the Musketeers will be involved in helping enthrone or dethrone him. That much I knew, but Dumas's story is so much better and different than the way I had expected things to go with those basic ingredients that it left me in tears at the end (much like the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when you realize that you must leave your great friends as they go into the West and there will be no more story)..
There is no possible way I can conceive that a reader would be disappointed by this book, and while one might gain a bit of background by reading the first two (you can see my review on Lunch), with just the barest plot details I provided above you will know enough to proceed.
And I know this may seem an odd pairing from a different medium, but as I fell in love with Marge Gunderson in the great Coen Brothers movie Fargo as perhaps the greatest hero of our time, I find a similar aura and grace of heroism around D'Artagnan, who must certainly be known as the greatest hero of his era. One for all? Marge and D'Artagnan lived it.
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