The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
FINALLY got around to reading this classic for the first time.
I mean, who doesn't love a GOOD revenge story, right? Alas, it's a lot more than just that! At 1200 pages, don't you think it ought to be? :)
I'll skip a breakdown of the plot because a ton of people will already have done this or watched some version on TV, but since I have also never watched a movie of this, I cannot say how well they do.
I CAN, however, say that I was never bored. Not once. From conspiracy and intrigue, the hope of a grand happy life, dashed, the fear of Napoleon coming back to the mainland driving some jerks to frame the poor kid Edmund Dantes and sentence him to a life in a nasty castle prison on the eve of his own wedding... it sounds glorious, fantastically evil. And it is. But that's just the start of the fun.
In prison, he befriends and is befriended by a learned man of the cloth with great knowledge and the secret of a great treasure, but it still takes Eddy 14 years of his youth to orchestrate a grand escape by way of a cannonball attached to his leg, being tossed into the sea as the dead.
What drives him is REVENGE on those people who put him away through no fault of his own.
The other 850 pages is a wild rags-to-riches story as he takes on the guise of the brilliantly rich Count of Monte Cristo as he inveigles, bribes, buys, and cons his way into high society in Paris. He never loses sight of his overarching theme of revenge, looking up and looking into every one of the creeps that took away his whole future, but unlike the modern tales of revenge we're familiar with, he does it in a very Christian way.
If a man properly repents and does good deeds, Eddy forgives. If the jerk remains a jerk, then Eddy conspires with all his intelligence and wealth to bring about the utter ruin of his enemy. And I mean utter ruin. Not just their wealth, but their family, their hopes, even their very souls... he casts them down into the abyss. :) Slowly. Carefully. Eddy is never blithe about his task. He makes sure it is the right thing to do, always questioning, always giving his enemies more and more and more rope... and through many diverse plot threads, we see the noose close around each and all... unless they are good.
And like judge, jury, and executioner, Eddy gives each of them their just desserts. :)
Classic? More than classic. It's still an easy and delightful read even for us moderns. Timeless? Perhaps. One of the best novels ever written?
With one caveat. There's a lot of modern favorites in the movies and novels that take directly from the plots and themes here. Like, huge swaths. Like Shawshank Redemption and V for Vendetta. These movies even make huge references to the Count. :)
It also has a rich tradition in my own personal favorite genres such as SF. The Demolished Man by Bester very strongly comes to mind, as does the Lightbringer books by Weeks in Fantasy. :)
It's telling that stories like this are still such huge crowd pleasers, no? What's wrong with us??? lol
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