After early success as a dramatist, Dumas turned to writing historical novels, the most famous of which is The Three Musketeers (1844). Although Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are the Musketeers of the title, the novel is really the story of the young D'Artagnan's ambition to join their ranks. The novel provides an exuberant display of swashbuckling heroism as the four men attempt to outwit the scheming Cardinal Richelieu and his accomplice Milady de Winter. In Milady, Dumas creates a chilling villainess whose malignity is made more powerful by her ruthless use of her sexuality. The mythic dimensions of the Musketeers are enhanced in the sequels Twenty Years After (1845), The Man in the Iron Mask (1846), and The Vicomte de Bragelonne (1850). For Dumas, action and romance were the most important ingredients for a novel and these elements are seen to further effect in The Count of Monte Cristo (1844).
Robert Louis Stevenson, Baroness Orczy, Patrick O'Brian GK