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Below you can find a synopsis of the The Vicomte de Bragelonne:
It is the year 1660, and D'Artagnan, after thirty-five years of loyal service, has become disgusted with serving King Louis XIV while the real power resides with the Cardinal Mazarin, and has tendered his resignation. He embarks on his own project, that of restoring Charles II to the throne of England, and, with the help of Athos, succeeds, earning himself quite a fortune in the process. D'Artagnan returns to Paris to live the life of a rich citizen, and Athos, after negotiating the marriage of Philip, the king's brother, to Princess Henrietta of England, likewise retires to his own estate, La Fere. Meanwhile, Mazarin has finally died, and left Louis to assume the reigns of power, with the assistance of M. Colbert, formerly Mazarin's trusted clerk. Colbert has an intense hatred for M. Fouquet, the king's superintendent of finances, and has resolved to use any means necessary to bring about his fall. With the new rank of intendant bestowed on him by Louis, Colbert succeeds in having two of Fouquet's loyal friends tried and executed. He then brings to the king's attention that Fouquet is fortifying the island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer, and could possibly be planning to use it as a base for some military operation against the king. Louis calls D'Artagnan out of retirement and sends him to investigate the island, promising him a tremendous salary and his long-promised promotion to captain of the musketeers upon his return. At Belle-Isle, D'Artagnan discovers that the engineer of the fortifications is, in fact, Porthos, now the Baron du Vallon, and that's not all. The blueprints for the island, although in Porthos's handwriting, show evidence of another script that has been erased, that of Aramis. D'Artagnan later discovers that Aramis has become the bishop of Vannes, which is, coincidentally, a parish belonging to M. Fouquet. Suspecting that D'Artagnan has arrived on the king's behalf to investigate, Aramis tricks D'Artagnan into wandering around Vannes in search of Porthos, and sends Porthos on an heroic ride back to Paris to warn Fouquet of the danger. Fouquet rushes to the king, and gives him Belle-Isle as a present, thus allaying any suspicion, and at the same time humiliating Colbert, just minutes before the usher announces someone else seeking an audience with the king.
Being the sequel to the sequel of The Three Musketeers, Dumas goes on with his theme of political games with our heroes in the middle. Here, it is the first seven years of powerful Louis XIV’s rule which are the background for the story of Bragelonne and our four heros. D’Artagnan has become older and Athos, Porthos and Aramis have moved on and (sometimes) up. Louis XIV has become king having gained the age of majority, but he is still ruled by Mazarin who is not convinced that the king is ready to be king. When Mazarin finally passes on, Louis sees his chance to become the king he wants to be: powerful and omnipotent… However, financial superintendant Fouquet and his subordinate (or is he?) the bishop of Vannes Mr d’Herblay a.k.a. Aramis, are not really fond of the idea. On the other hand financial vice-superintendant Mr Colbert sees great possibilities for himself if Fouquet would only be history. To add to the torment of Louis XIV there is Louise de la Vallière who seems to be betrothed to Athos’s son Vicomte Raoul de Bragelonne, but who does not seem keener on that than Louis himself; d’Artagnan, ‘the voice of honesty’, takes leave of his service several times out of frustration; coquettish Madame (the new wife of Monsieur Philippe, brother of Louis) is torn between Louis and Mr le Comte de Guiche, best friend of Bragelonne. Then the governor of the Bastille state-prison Mr de Baisemeaux can’t keep his mouth shut and provides Aramis with vital information that could make him a powerful man indeed. When Porthos gets sucked into the games of Aramis and Fouquet, because of his naivety, and things come to a high on the island of Belle-Île after the famous plot against the king, d’Artagnan must choose between his duty and his ambition to become Marshal of France on the one side, and his duty to his friends on the other. At this crucial moment he finally sees himself mastered and, to his own amazement, now values his master more than he thought he would ever. At the same time a lot of sad things will happen at this point in the story, because let’s face it, our heroes have all become old and they are slowly going to the end of their road on this earth. For a last time d’Artagnan makes his trip to see them, like he did for the first time in The Three Musketeers 30 to 40 years before, but now with another purpose. Only Aramis he will not have to go and see, but he will turn up very unexpectedly later… Much later… The Vicomte de Bragelonne is a very nice, fitting, passionate and at the same time very placid end to the story of our four (or is it three?) musketeers. The last book of the trilogy provides the reader with a look on how times changed when a powerful king took over and what that king had to do to finally gain respect and authority from and over people who weren’t used to that under his predecessors. It sheds a light on diplomacy and honour in a world that is no longer with us, but that was made immortal by authors like Dumas. As president of France Mr Chirac said: with Alexandre Dumas, we were indeed d’Artagnan riding on the roads of France, fighting on the battlefields and visiting palaces and fortresses alike. With him we dream and generations to come will do the same. The only thing left now of the trilogy is the thought of d’Artagnan and his friends which will always stay with us as an image of ideal friendship… Or, of course, start to read over to try quench the thirst for a sequel to the sequel of the sequel of The Three Musketeers!--Submitted by kiki1982
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