Emi's Reviews > The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
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's review
Jan 23, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: translation
Read in December, 2011

i really loved this book, but was severely disappointed at the end,which while did its job felt very rushed and quite lacking compared to the thrilling and very well-written middle and climax.
there were areas at the beginning and at the end that were really rather weak and even a little bit boring. aramis played a much larger part in this book, and it's interesting to see him portrayed as almost an antagonist in his ideals and attempt at dethroning louis xiv. i was really sad that my favourite character athos was barely in this book at all.
porthos is absolutely incredible in this book. his quirks and clueless humorous comments really make me laugh, i love him so much. :) dumas' use of conversation is so light and elegant in this book, it really carries so much character in each conversation, it's a real delight to read it. interaction between porthos and d'artagnan, porthos and aramis is especially great.
this book really picked up pace along the middle section, where things fall into action. the best section is a little closer to the end where d'artagnan really finds his loyalties divided and belle-ille is under attack by France. the blackmailing and the strict control of d'artagnan by lousis xiv is really exciting and almost scary, and the battle is a real thrill to read.

i read this book a while after i read the three musketeers, but as soon as i picked this up, i immediately remembered all the characters and found them just as endearing as before. unfortunately i haven't read any of the middle volumes of the books so there were gaps in my knowledge and there is much focus on each ex-musketeer's new and current life. i was therefore unfamiliar with raoul, athos' son and his relationship with mademoiselle valliere, which played an important part in the second half of the novel.
the first half of the novel focused on aramis' attempt to dethrone and replace louis xiv with his twin brother. the conclusion of this arc is disappointing in that we never really know what happens to phillipe in the end, although the executors of the crime- aramis, porthos, and even fouqet have obvious conclusions. phillipe is shown as a vital character at the beginning but he becomes cut off at the end of this arc, and it doesn't seem well concluded on his final thoughts.

reading about athos' old age made me severely depressed, it is so sad to think of him as a greying old man unable to ride his horse. similarly with porthos' last moments, i realised how much i cared for these characters and wished they were still as young and strong as they used to be.

i liked d'artagnan so much more in this book compared to in the first one, where he was far from my favourite. d'artagnan seems unchanged but both matured and his character is developed very well in his conflicted loyalties and final choices in the battle of belle-ille. the end was disappointing and rushed, although the final point is understood. i was sad to see the ex-musketeers go, but dumas has created a beautiful cast of incredibly dear friends who i'm unlikely to forget.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Elizabeth Hopkinson I agree so much with a lot of what you say. I too have only read The Three Musketeers and this, so my reading experience is very similar. Actually, I only skim-read the last few chapters because I was finding all the deaths too depressing. And it upset me how Aramis is - as you say - portrayed as an antagonist, because he is my favourite character and I've always been kind of attracted to him. I just don't see him as selfish and heartless, so I felt in some parts as if Dumas was falsely accusing him. I too wished the musketeers were young and strong and inseparable again. And that there could be a return to the light-hearted nature of the first book instead of so much tragedy.

message 2: by Emi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emi thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! :) yes, i've been trying to find english translations for all the D'Artagnan/Three Musketeer Romances, especially the books between the first and last but it seems to be impossible! i always found Aramis a tricky character to understand, but yeah, he did seem really antagonistic in this book. i definitely agree, but the tragedy really makes me remember and appreciate why i loved the three musketeers so much in the first place! :)

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