The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas, has been adapted into movies, television shows, and probably even comics. The story is full of intrigue, humor, adventure, and a fair amount of romance.
It took me a little while to get into the story, because I was so unused to the writing style and archaic vocabulary. I found myself stopping on a fairly regular basis to look up unfamiliar phrases and verify the meanings of words seldom seen in modern literature.
I enjoyed the humor immensely. Dumas had a talent for inserting unexpected situational comedy at just the right times to keep the reader engaged. The action sequences took a fair amount of imagination to picture what was going on, but they were generally gripping as well.
He relied heavily on archetypes when it came to his characters. The heroes, Pathos, Athos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan all embodied various aspects of the 'ideal' man. While the women were embodiments of different types of 'female' vices, like the gullible maiden in distress and the manipulative temptress.
To me, the most interesting character was the Cardinal, as he demonstrated both positive and negative traits. He seemed like the best rounded character of the lot.
Although I found the characters a bit flat in the book itself, it's not hard to see how they could be easily transformed into the countless variations they've been reborn as.
I had a very hard time with how relationships were handled throughout the story. I realize the characters are supposed to be passionate, but the instant love or dislike between so many characters wasn't believable. I always have a hard time swallowing such instant connections between people. Once in a while, we do meet someone we have a sudden strong feeling for, but it's far rarer than had happened in this book.
To be honest, I found myself unnerved by the obsessive love interests and stalking that D'Artagnan had a thing for. I realize he's supposed to be young and impulsive, but the degree to which he goes to prove his manhood, be it by 'wooing' a woman or seeking duals because of mild slights, reminds me of mental illness more than bravery.
Unfortunately, I see echos of those attitude's in today's fiction, and occasionally in real life relationships. Personally, if someone took that intense of an interest in me, I'd probably end up getting a restraining order on the offending party, because they probably wouldn't listen to my repeated requests to leave well enough alone.
The relationship and character issues aside, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. It offered a unique peek into some of what stories of adventure were like back in the 1620s. Fiction also gives us hints to what life was like during that period of time, as well, which is one of the most fascinating aspects.
Had I been alive back then, and was lucky enough to know how to read, I think this would probably be one of my favorite stories. Reading the book with a modern mindset may have taken away from it, but I can still see why it's so commonly required for literature classes.