It was a strange thing, and one which made D'Artagnan tremble from the sole of his foot to the roots of his hair, to find that this soft light, this calm lamp, enlightened a scene of fearful disorder. One of the windows was broken, the door of the chamber had been beaten in, and hung, split in two, on its hinges. A table, which had been covered with an elegant supper, was overturned. The decanters, broken in pieces, and the fruits crushed, strewed the floor. Everything in the apartment gave evidence of a violent and desperate struggle.
I feel like I just read two books, and not just because the text is 639 pages. On the one hand, there is the story of the Musketeers and the plot and all the leaping around, and I agree in a very huge way with what little_tristan said; I really wanted more brotherhood-like feelings between all the Musketeers and that ending just about broke my heart. They just got up and walked away? Never spoke again? Perhaps it is simply that I've been in this fanfic thing too long and the slash goggles are at this point welded to my face but I wanted much more from the boys. I understand it's unreasonable to expect that they settled down in a little cottage together and slept curled up in a knot together each night in a very big bed, but...they just...never again? WAH.
And while I do have a little sympathy for, as little_tristan said the historically appropriate destinies of the female characters, I still found it hard to swallow, especially in light of a book like Les Miserables, where I was much more able to overlook those destinies in favor of adoring the story. But here, that simply isn't the case.
At the same time, there's a second book here, and one that's almost better than the first: and that's the language of the book itself. Simply put, it's gorgeous.
It's the whole reason I wanted all of us to record little podcasts of favorite portions. Because the language at every part is so rich and so decadent and yet so smooth and...delicious. I really enjoyed it. It's what I was trying to get at with the quote I included above. It's that combination of details and embedded clauses that make it loopily rich and lickable.
That's right. Lickable.
I felt like the narrator's voice was chatty! Like this:
As perhaps our readers are not familiar with the slang of the Rue de Jerusalem, and as it is fifteen years since we applied this word for the first time to this thing, allow us to explain to them what is a mouse-trap.
When in a house, of whatever kind it may be, an individual suspected of any crime be arrested, the arrest is held secret. Four or five men are placed in ambuscade in the first room. The door is opened to all who knock. It is closed after them, and they are arrested; so that at the end of two or three days they have in their power almost all the habitues of the establishment. And that is a mouse trap.
The appartement of M. Bonacieux then became a mouse-trap; and whoever appeared there was taken and interrogated by the cardinal's people. It must be observed that as a separate passage led to the first floor, in which D'Artagnan lodged, those who called to see him were exempted from this detention.
There's so much going on there. There's the narrator, briskly straddling the fourth wall. There's the simple and effective manner of explaining the idea of the mousetrap. And there's the deft manner in which the narrator returns control of the story to the plot. Brilliant!
And that's not even looking at the technical aspects.
Overall, a very well written but ultimately disappointing story that perhaps appeared entirely differently to the audiences of its day.
As a postscript, I totally lucked out in getting from the library the 1975 hardbound Everyman version, featuring not just a compelling introduction by Marcel Girard and an absolutely beautiful font.