It was not as bad as you would have expected it to be. A Swashbuckling Novel Of Political Intrigue In The Concluding Installment Of Alexandre Dumas S Celebrated Cycle Of The Three Musketeers, D Artagnan Remains In The Service Of The Corrupt King Louis XIV After The Three Musketeers Have Retired And Gone Their Separate Ways Unbeknownst To D Artagnan, Aramis And Porthos Plot To Remove The Inept King And Place The King S Twin Brother On The Throne Of France Meanwhile, A Twenty Three Year Old Prisoner Known Only As Philippe Wastes Away Deep Inside The Bastille Forced To Wear An Iron Mask, Phillippe Has Been Imprisoned For Eight Years, Has No Knowledge Of His True Identity, And Has Not Been Told What Crime He S Committed When The Destinies Of The King And Phillippe Converge, The Three Musketeers And D Artagnan Find Themselves Caught Between Conflicting Loyalties Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Man in the Iron Mask, to me, was just how quickly the title subplot was dealt with Then again, this was not originally called The Man in the Iron Mask This is the last chunk in a larger book I can see why it gets cut up like that This part alone was over 400 pages And the introduction gave a coherent enough synopsis of what came before that I could follow Maybe I should have read it all, since I do like reading Dumas the elder.Back in the 90s, I saw the movie version, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio Because Leo was soooo dreamy And wow, did it ever depart from the source material Sure, I expected that, but maybe not quite to that extent I m sure it doesn t surprise anyone that I think the original was far and away better One of the things that I really liked, and was really surprised by, in The Three Musketeers was the level of nuance in the characters Opposing a protagonist does not make a character evil, and an opponent can become a friend It s refreshing, and farrealistic But the ending is one hell of a downer, I have to say It doesn t bother me, but it s something to keep in mind before you dive in. Edited and annotated by David Coward, from an older translation Well, the mammoth saga of the once invincibles comes to a rather sad end Porthos dies because his strength gives out Aramis flees France in disgrace because his schemes come to ruin And Athos dies because the one thing dearer to him to God, his son, leaves his company to go die in the Africa campaigns under the Duke of Beaufort And d Artagnan well, d Artagnan s star does not decline under the sun king, but that s only because this once so haughty Gascon spirit humbles itself rather abjectly before the iron will of Louis chapter 81, simply and appropriately titled King Louis XIV I have one complaint with this action packed adventure, during which in the course of 570 pages the suspense hardly slackens Why did Aramis, General of the Jesuits, master planner always with an out at his disposal, admit defeat instantly when Fouquet announced he would denounce him Up to that point, Fouquet had been a pawn of Aramis Suddenly, Aramis had to flee for his life on the word alone of Fouquet Well, maybe it was the onset of age that weakens Aramis resolve. I was reluctant to read this due to the ubiquity of the Musketeers and because for whatever reason i had assumed Dumas to be a high brow difficult author Boy was i wrong, this had such an easy almost pulpy tone to it, perhaps a tad hard to parse during some dialogue but overall very smooth and a nice style.I was in, the first 20% was 5 stars even with some interruptions to worldbuild, but then after a climax it suddenly switches characters Which it will continue to do throughout the novel as there isn t actually any main character Its a terrible structure where the momentum drops at each switch and has to start to build up again Still Dumas manages to make it work, and the awful structure does at least mean you never know what might happen next Dumas even gets some use out of Raoul, the most worthless of side characters, in his first major section at least.So not 5 stars but still a solid 4 until we reach the conclusion, if i can use that term since its about 10 chapters long One major character view spoiler the King hide spoiler My insignificant words can hardly do justice to my love for this book, so I ll keep it short.You can read my original review here.If you are curious about this book because you re familiar with the title, or saw the terrible movie, or have read The Three Musketeers and can t be bothered with everything that comes in between, please don t bother with this book You ve hardly earned it, and as such it ll ring hollow for you.If, however, you have loyally followed our musketeer friends over their 40 years of adventures if you can comprehend the significance of Athos showing weakness, of Aramis s tears, of the words too heavy read, and do justice to our friends by allowing their stories to conclude.This is the book where four inseparable, energetic men find that time and politics have finally caught up with them It s absolutely gut wrenching at times to see how their stories have been influenced.This book will live forever in my heart, as will its heroes. I wish I could give this three stars, but this book truly was just okay The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After must be read before this book, otherwise you will be very confused I m surprised that The Man in the Iron Mask isfamous than Twenty Years After although neither are good stand alone novels they really require reading the previous novels first because I found TYA to be muchhumorous,exciting, andengaging all around The only thing I likedabout TMitIM is that the particular translation I read, which is much newer than the translation of TYA that I had read, made for smooth and easy reading The translations of TTM and TYA I read were tiring to read at times The last 300 pages of TMitIM are not very interesting, although I will give Dumas credit for always writing good death and grieving scenes I read this trilogy because The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book and I was hoping for something similar, but these three books are nothing like it The first two are humorous, light hearted, and adventurous, but the last one TMitIM is not particularly engaging and its only purpose seems to be to conclude the story and lives of the four protagonists. Parbleu Morbleu Corboeuf Ma foi Mordioux Not to mention Cordieu I think they are variations of OMG.I usually prefer to know as little as possible about the book I am about to read, including avoid reading the synopsis, or if I have read the synopsis in order to decide whether to read the book I try to forget it and do very well in the forgetting department, there is a character in this book called M Fouquet, a name I would like to adopt for future social media shenanigans Anyway, sometimes this policy backfires I thought The Man in the Iron Mask was the final volume of The D Artagnan Romances, alas I was only one third right, The Man in the Iron Mask is the final part of a much longer book, The Vicomte of Bragelonne Ten Years Later However, it is the best known part and published in the UK separately as a separate book This means that I missed out on quite a lot of backstory and plot developments Fortunately, The Man in the Iron Mask can be read without much difficulty outside of its parent book You should, however, at least read The Three Musketeers first Anyway, by the time I realized my mistake I was already well into the book and I didn t feel like backtracking The Man in the Iron Mask is set thirty five years after The Three Musketeers In that first book of The D Artagnan Romances, D Artagnan was something of a young cocky upstart musketeer, in this book he is in his fifties and the renowned captain of the king s musketeers His three ex musketeer BFFs, Aramis, Porthos and Athos, are also of advancing years and living lives of luxury None of these three are working for King Louis XIV, not having much of a taste for this king who from his playboy like behavior seems unworthy of their services and loyalty In fact, Aramis is so unimpressed that he elaborately plots to replace Louise with his identical twin brother Philippe, his plan goes smoothly up to a point, the king is put in prison at Bastille and secretly replaced with Philippe Unfortunately, he then makes the fatal error of confiding in Superintendent M Fouquet, who, as a stick in the mud an honorable man, refuses to allow the rightful king to be treated so shabbily Fouquet goes off to rescue Louis XIV from Bastille, while Aramis makes a run for it, accompanied by poor, trusting Porthos, his unwitting coconspirator Looking like Leonardo DiCaprio the king is not always a good thing.You may be thinking I am spoiling the book terribly with the above summary but The Man in the Iron Mask is so densely plotted I have barely scratched the surface of the entire plot It is not surprising that Dumas was so popular and remains so to this day, the man really knew how to write a fast pace narrative when he wants to, this book is stuffed to the gills with action and intrigues The scene of D Artagnan chasing M Fouquet on horseback is particularly hair raising, and the conclusion of the chase confounded my expectations There are several other scenes of similar intensity, but, for me, this one is the most badass Dumas skill with character development is remarkable His main characters are all lively, vibrant and believable Of the original three musketeers the only real mover and shaker is Aramis, who is too clever and ambitious for his own good His ingenious subterfuges and elaborate schemes are both audacious and hilarious in execution Porthos is his lovable, not too bright, faithful sidekick who follows him blindly to his own detriment as for Athos, he does not have much to do in the narrative except growing old and sad The series hero, D Artagnan, is loyal to the king to a fault, he would carry out the king s orders even if he knows them to be wrong and that innocents will suffer However, he finally draws the line at killing any of his Three Musketeers friends The Man in the Iron Mask is much darker in tone than The Three Musketeers Several good characters come to a bad end through no fault of their own Philippe s fate is particularly miserable though there is no real evidence that the real historical mysterious Man in the Iron Mask is in anyway related to the king While the book is a great read, I believe it suffers a bit from being serialized As authors of serialized books are paid by the word it often cause them to overwrite hello Mr Dickens Dumas overwrote some parts which drag on unnecessarily, and some of the subplots do not really go anywhere, and have little relationship to the main storyline Still, the book kept my interest throughout The writing is a thing of beauty though the dialogue is over elaborate at times.It has been decades since I read The Three Musketeers this is my first reading of The Man in the Iron Mask and it makes me want to reread it soon.Notes Fabulous Librivox free audio book, read by Mark F Smith Amazing job Different character voices, and narrated with plenty of passion and enthusiasm Thank you so much I always thought the title of The Three Musketeers was something of a misnomer, as the book was about four of them though it could be argued that it is really about D Artagnan s encounter and friendship with them However, The Man in the Iron Mask is evenof a misnomer because the eponymous Man poor Phillippe is barely in the narrative, and by the second half of the book Dumas seems to have lost interest in him I have no idea who to credit for the translation of this public domain edition It seems very good in term of conveying the story, whether it is a good translation of Dumas original text I am not in a position to evaluate QuotesThen if you wish me to tell what crime I have committed, explain to me in what a crime consists For as my conscience does not accuse me, I aver that I am not a criminal M Mouston, whose personal corpulency, quite enough at any time to hide one man from another, was effectually doubled by a scarlet coat which the intendant was holding up for his master s inspection, by the sleeves, that he might the better see it all over D Artagnan recoiled, as though the sesquipedalian syllables had knocked the breath out of his body Driven insane by his undeserved incarceration, Philippe sayz Come On Feel The Noize It pains me to write this because I am, at heart, a print person My paycheck depends on people wanting and buying printed materials But this is one instance where the movie far outshines the book and I m glad there was a screenwriter with a vision to see beyond this dismal book.I had just read Three Musketeers by Dumas when I read this book Perhaps it was the pleasure I took in this early book that spoiled Man in the Iron Mask.Man in the Iron Mask starts out well There is all the chivalry and twice the intrigue of Dumas earlier works The dialog is fantastic with politics twisting every meaning and clearly communicating the rancor of the time There is a fantastic scene with Porthos, Aramis and the tailor that made me laugh aloud I truly like Dartangan, for he displays chivalry and honor even when ordered to do things against his honor.Then the book starts to go downhill Characters that one would think were essential to the book disappear midway through and are never heard from again Aramis becomes less and less sympathetic until we finally view him as merely a court toady who cared little for the sacrifice of his friends.There are moments in this book moments of passion, of grief, of love But they are merely moments Eventually the book becomes so ponderous, one must force oneself to continue There are few characters to like in this book They get themselves into situations for stupid reasons and are too self centered to get out of them Sacrifices are made for foolish reasons.