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Twenty Years After
The year is now 1648, twenty years since the close of the last story. Louis XIII has died, as has Cardinal Richelieu, and while the crown of France may sit upon the head of Anne of Austria as Regent for the young Louis XIV, the real power resides with the Cardinal Mazarin, her secret husband. D'Artagnan is now a lieutenant of musketeers, and his three friends have retired to private life. Athos turned out to be a nobleman, the Comte de la Fere, and has retired to his home with his son, Raoul de Bragelonne. Aramis, whose real name is D'Herblay, has followed his intention of shedding the musketeer's cassock for the priest's robes, and Porthos has married a wealthy woman, who left him her fortune upon her death. But trouble is stirring in both France and England. Cromwell menaces the institution of royalty itself while marching against Charles I, and at home the Fronde is threatening to tear France apart. D'Artagnan brings his friends out of retirement to save the threatened English monarch, but Mordaunt, the son of Milady, who seeks to avenge his mother's death at the musketeers' hands, thwarts their valiant efforts. Undaunted, our heroes return to France just in time to help save the young Louis XIV, quiet the Fronde, and tweak the nose of Cardinal Mazarin.
The sequel to The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After is slightly slower but is still an interesting read. It does repeat the success-formula of The Three Musketeers and maybe is less compelling, but the characters show more depth and have now really got older. Our hero d’Artagnan has in the meantime moved on to the rank of Lieutenant of the Musketeers, as in those 20 years the division between the Cardinal’s and King’s Musketeers has been abolished. However, d’Artagnan has still got ambitions to become Captain of the Musketeers, like Mr de Tréville, his compatriot. Cardinal Mazarin, a stingy Italian, is now governing France--after the death of cardinal Richelieu--rather than the regent to Louis XIV, his mother queen Anne of Austria who is supposed to have married Mazarin in secret. When Mazarin orders d’Artagnan to go and help Cromwell in his rebellion against Charles I of England, in an attempt to avoid civil war in France, d’Artagnan goes to look for his friends but cannot all persuade them to come with him. They will meet in a very unusual place indeed. In spite of their efforts, King Charles I of England is still killed and our friends will have to return home, in trouble. Nevertheless, the book will end on a positive note again, after an admirable intervention of d’Artagnan. Dumas makes his characters grow in this book and develops the personality they had in The Three Musketeers. All of them have grown older and have moved on in their lives. A good read, nevertheless, certainly because there is another sequel to the sequel: The Vicomte de Bragelonne. --Submitted by kiki1982
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