(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the very best of the series, mixing amorous and political intrigue with an élan peculiar to Dumas...this quasi-historical series remains remarkably readable" (The Irish Times, Dublin)
This story seems quaint and very subtle by modern standards.
Large tracts are devoted to the minutiae of French royalty and the surrounding courtiers, where sometimes there is a very long and (impeccably narrated) winding road to reach a climax where one of several gallant knights squeezes one of several ladies-in-waiting hands or some other equally scandalous body part.
I suppose this must have titillated in it's day, but it really doesn't measure up to the excitement of "The 3 Musketeers", "20 Years After" or even "The Man in the Iron Mask", which follows on from this, and is well enough written that you could probably jump from "Le Vicomte de Bragelonne" to "The Man in the Iron Mask" without losing much in the bargain.
I loved the performance by Simon Vance as with all his work. However, this installment is not up to the great level of Dumas' previous three books in the series. A romantic farce rather than a tragedy it just doesn't hold up. Can't wait to get back to his great writing with Man in the Iron Mask.
Please give us all of the Dumas that is available in audio format -- commission new recordings, if necessary. Louise de La Velliere is another fine prequel to The Man in the Iron Mask, even if you have already read that classic. Louise, Raoul, Athos, and many other characters are understood more easily when The Vicompte de Bragilonne, Louise de La Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask are taken in the proper order. No wonder Aramis wants to replace Louis on the throne with his twin brother!
This book was a necessary read for me to have a stronger background of The Man in the Iron Mask. Though I love Dumas' works and I enjoy the character of Raoul, Athos' son, this is my least favorite of the D'artagnan series, and I believe my past read of the actual book is what helped me comprehend the complex (and somewhat dry) story line and odd story twists. If you are a fan of the Musketeers and Dumas, you must "read" this book to stay knowledgeable of the more obscure background details of each Musketeer and Raoul and his friends.
My favorite scene is when D'artagnan defends Raoul to Raoul's friends who have been teasing Raoul about not knowing who his mother is and thus implying he is a "castaway" child of lower birth rank. D'artagnan defends his best friend's son (Athos' son) as if Raoul was his own. I get chills when see how devoted all these men are to each other.
Yes. Simon Vance is an amazing reader. He pays attention to details in the dialogue and puts the story first - not his voice acting skills.
The scene previously mentioned of D'atagnan defending Raoul was my extreme reaction because this book has a lot - and I mean a lot of - background details and story twists (location changes, Musketeer-switch-ups, and loyalty changes) - that it reads sometimes more like a documentary of each Musketeers' plan of action kept secret from the other, while throwing in Raoul's friendships, Guard service, and love triangle in gaps of the big story that make for a dizzying read.
You have to read it if you are a true Musketeer fan. I liked it strongly, though I didn't love it as I do the other 4 books.
I was going to take a break from the D'Artagnan series and return to it after listening to something else, but the previous volume really does leave you wanting to continue, and this one does, too. So I'll move on to the Man with the Iron Mask, and then get to my other books on the queue. The story is full of plotting, mostly about the king's shenanigans. It's amazing that they got anything done. The other amazing thing is that by reading a little history of Louis XIV's reign, I found that this is only a bit exaggerated, or maybe not at all. I mean, if you search on Google for "Louis XIV mistress", you get a result on Wikipedia that tells you that there are 11 pages, and an alphabetized list of his mistresses, Louise de la Valliere being his first. Those people who gave mediocre or unenthusiastic reviews of the book and said it is like a soap opera or a cheap romance set in the 17th century are correct in their description, except if you read the history, you'll see that this is an entertaining depiction that seems not so far from reality, and representing only one of Louis XIV's long string of mistresses. I think it is quite entertaining (just wish there was more of D'Artagnan himself - he's the most fun character in these books, of course), and interesting, though I wouldn't say it is a 5-star book. But the reader - Simon Vance - he is 5-star plus! I don't know how he can so smoothly switch voices and accents, and remember which one to do for which character. Clearly this is not an off-the-cuff performance, it took serious thought and preparation, and I delighted in every moment of his reading. He's a gem. It is readers like him that make it worth buying audio books (rather than getting public domain stuff, which is available for classic books like these). Superb. Thank you, Simon Vance.
As others have said, the velvet and lace romantic intrigues are subpar for Dumas, but the novel as a whole is redeemed by its enlargement and shading of the series' characters, insightful flourishes, and above all by the sublime performance of Simon Vance, who intones new meaning into otherwise hackneyed soap opera.
I love a good book...
Alexandre Dumas continues with this interesting story of love, intrigue, betrayal and conspiracy. As Mel Brooks says, "It's good to be the king."
"Only the Best"
I have read all that books in the series and now go on to The Man in the Iron Mask to complete the story. I have enjoyed every minute of all . Simon Vance tells the story really well and have marked his performance higher than story and overall to stress my point. Again I have had a really good read/listen, just plain the Best of Entertainment.
"The weakest of the series"
A bit too much 'woe is me I'm in love' and not enough swashbuckling in this one!
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