Saturday, November 3, 2012

Count of Monte Cristo: Review

I was going to do a review on Lord of the Rings, but come on, we all know how that would go.

"Lord of the Rings is the best trilogy and books and everything EVER!  Read them!!!  Tolkien was the best writer ever!!  AHHH!!!!  Aragorn is so awesome and Eowyn and everyone read the BOOOOOKS!!!!"

Ahem.  Yeeah...soo I'm doing Count of Monte Cristo instead!

"Count of Monte Cristo" was written kinda like a TV show back in the early days following the French revolution.  Every week, a new "episode" would be posted in the newspapers and periodicals.  So reading "Count of Monte Cristo" is kind of like starting to watch "Once Upon a Time" on DVD.  You just can't stop at one episode!  Or two...or three...or seventeen...

Not that I know anything about that.

Anyway, "Count of Monte Cristo" is a rather long book, the unabridged version being over 1,200 pages long.  If you do decide to read this book, read the unabridged version, NOT the abridged version.  The abridged version is 600 pages.  It was made to be a bit more "family friendly" than the unabridged version.  It's still good, I read it first actually.  But its kinda like watching Once Upon a Time with little siblings and constantly fastforwarding or muting or whatever.  Still enjoyable, but leaves you kinda confused on some parts.

Not that I know anything about that either.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is the story of young Edmund Dantes, a sailor with a wonderful life ahead of him.  He is about to become a captain at the age of nineteen, he's engaged to a girl who he loves and who loves him back, he's making a decent amount of money, and people like him.  Well, most people anyway.  There are four men who could like him a bit more.  These four men scheme and plan and manage to get Dantes thrown in the Chateau D'if, a prison that nobody ever leaves unless they are dead.  There, Dantes secretly meets a fellow prisoner, Abbot Faria, who educates and teaches him.  The Abbot and Dantes plan an escape attempt that would have worked, except that Abbot Faria dies before they can do it.  Before he dies, he tells Dantes of a hidden treasure on the isle of Monte Cristo.  He tells Dantes to start again and make a new life.

Dantes has other plans.

He takes the mass treasure and begins to weave together an elaborate tapestry of mystery and intrigue.  He portrays himself as the mysterious "Count of Monte Cristo" and he lives by several other pseudonyms too.  For over twenty years he plots and plans his revenge on the four men who ruined his life.  And when he finally gets it, he discovers that it is not everything he wanted.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is an incredible story, with an action-packed and intricate plot that leaves you turning pages.  Dantes' revenge is so perfect and so wicked you can't help but root for him, but he still leaves uncertainty because there are some people, some really good people, who are caught in the middle of his revenge.  No matter who wins, something is going to lose, leaving the reader filling dread and tension at every page.  The characters always have a lot of depth to them, and you even get to see a hint of goodness in the villains, and a hint of badness in the good characters.

The book has many Christian themes in it too.  Taking care of family and friends, the dangers of revenge, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, and redemption.  It has just enough humor to keep from becoming too tense or depressing, and just enough tension to keep your knuckles white and teeth chattering.

But probably the reason why I truly love this book is this; I adore anti-heroes.  An anti-hero is someone who acts as the villain for most of the book, then becomes good and finally becomes the hero.  Alexandre Dumas succeeds with this flawlessly.

This book is probably not a little kid book though.  His revenge involves poison, manipulation, killing, and lying.  Premature burials, drugging, executions, and guillotining also play a role.  Everything is carried out in a very conservative way though, and I can't really complain about anything in this book.


You know, I guess I could have gone all Lord of the Rings nerd with this too.  "AHHH!!! DANTES is SOOO incredible!  This book is sooo cool!  READ IT!!!"

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