Friday, December 29, 2017

Forgotten Books: D'ARTAGNAN by H. Bedford-Jones (1928)

I’m a longtime Musketeers fan. I read The Three in junior high, discovered in Twenty Years After high school, and liked every movie I’ve seen since, including the ones starring the Ritz Brothers and the Brat Pack. The recent three-season BBC series was one of my favorite TV productions of all time. (I also grokked on Richard Sale’s Revolutionary War version of the tale, “The Rogue,” discussed HERE.)

So, I admit I was predisposed to enjoy this sequel by H. “The King of the Pulps” Bedord-Jones. So I read it. And what happened? It was every bit as good as I’d hoped, and I just enjoyed the hell out of it. And I’m pretty sure I’d be saying that even if I didn’t have Musketmania.

Bedford-Jones, who cranked out reams of adventure fiction in multiple genres, sited Dumas as one of his major influences, and it’s plain to see that this book was a labor of love. That action here takes place four or five year after the first book, featuring most of the major characters who survived the story. It also provides a nice bridge to Dumas’ first official sequel, Twenty Years After, and lays the groundwork for the sequel to that one, The Vicomte of Brageleonne.

But most important, it provides the reader a great time. Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan are just plain fun to hang out with, and it’s a shame Dumas, Bedford-Jones or someone else (like maybe Rafael Sabatini or even Richard Sale) didn’t write more about them. (Bedford-Jones did follow up the novel with The King’s Passport, in which d’Artagnan meets Cyrano de Bergerac, and that’s a good thing, but it’s not quite the same).

Bedford-Jones displays the sort of humor that made the original novel so much fun:
     “I must warn you, monsieur,” he stated, “that I have been taking lessons from the Italian fencing-master of the Prince of Wales, in London.”
     “And I,” said d’Artagnan, “have been killing those who give lessons. En garde, monsieur!”

After killing the guy, d’Artagnan feels regret,
     He had been successful in his mission. The document was destroyed, the queen was saved—but d’Artagnan felt no exultation. On the contrary, he vowed that upon returning to Paris he would have ten masses said at the St. Sulpice for the repose of the soul of Comte de Riberac, who had been a gallant gentleman. Upon reflection, however, he changed this vow to one mass only; for one would undoubtedly be as efficient as ten, and at one-tenth the cost.

We owe Mr. Altus Press, Matt Moring, a great debt for bringing this—and many other Bedford-Jones classics—back to life.


Anonymous said...

To the list of Three Musketeers pastiches, one might (if one squints a bit) add Stephen Brust's "Khaavren Romances" fantasy novels.

Denny Lien

Evan Lewis said...

Cool. I'll check it out!

Lohr McKinstry said...

When I was in junior high school, we were assigned to read "The Three Musketeers" and give book reports on it. First was a girl who raised her hand, oddly, because she didn't participate that much in class. Her description of the book's plot sounded odd to me. As she gave her report, it became clear to the teacher that she had viewed the Ritz Brothers version on TV and had not read the book. The teacher shut her down, angered, and she got a zero.