This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.
The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
Every writer of action and adventure fiction over the last century and a half has been influenced by author Alexandre Dumas, even if they don’t know it. Dumas, and his series of adventure tales of the musketeers, literally created modern action/adventure fiction in the 19th century, and as well had an influence on historical literature.
I first discovered the novel The Three Musketeers in high school. Of course I’d heard of the musketeers as there’d been a bunch of movies over the years concerning the adventures of Porthos, Aramis, Athos and D’artagnon. I was heavy into fantasy literature during those days, and once I’d discovered Alexandre Dumas, it seemed only natural that I would turn to his literature. His stories seemed like fantasy, just without the magic; there were sword fights, damsels in distress, evil villains worth tackling, intrigue, plots, etc.
But once I actually read The Three Musketeers, I was blown away by the depth of the book. This was more than just an adventure tale. True, there were plenty of adventures and intrigues, but the book was so much more than that. For me, it seemed to touch upon every aspect of being human. There was joy and happiness as well as sadness, loss and much, much more. The Three Musketeers was the first novel I’d read that seemed extremely broad in its emotional appeal.
The movies over the years have never done this book justice, though some of those movies aren’t bad. The problem is the story is so expansive, there’s no way a director could fit the tale entire into just one movie.
After The Three Musketeers, I moved on to Dumas’s other writings, many of which feature the famous musketeer characters. Each Dumas book I’ve read has been different than the ones before, and each has been quite excellent, but none quite have the place in my heart that does The Three Musketeers.
If you like adventure stories, do yourself a favor and read this book.
Oh, by the way, in case anyone was curious: Athos has always been my favorite musketeer.
Up next: Moby Dick