"We read The Three Musketeers to experience a sense of romance and for the sheer excitement of the story," reflected Clifton Fadiman. "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."
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."
"Dumas will be read a hundred, nay, three hundred years on," wrote John Galsworthy. "His greatest creation is undoubtedly D'Artagnan, type at once of the fighting adventurer and of the trusty servant, whose wily blade is ever at the back of those whose hearts have neither his magnanimity nor his courage. Few, if any, characters in fiction inspire one with such belief in their
individual existences. . . . To one who made D'Artagnan all shall be forgiven." Clifton Fadiman agreed: "Dumas enjoyed writing his stories. . . . The pleasure he must have felt in
creating D'Artagnan's troubles and triumphs
flashes out of these pages. . . . Dumas rampaged through the history of France, inventing, changing, distorting--doing whatever was needed to produce a tale to hold the reader breathless."
"I do not say there is no character as well drawn in Shakespeare [as D'Artagnan]. I do say there is none that I love so wholly."
--Robert Louis Stevenson
"The lasting and universal popularity of The Three Musketeers shows that Dumas, by artlessly expressing his own nature in the persons of his heroes, was responding to that craving for action, strength and generosity which is a fact in all periods and all places."