Twenty Years After: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers (Musketeers Cycle)

Written by Alexandre Dumas
Review by Sarah Hendess

Translator Lawrence Ellsworth has triumphantly returned to Dumas’s Musketeers cycle with this fresh translation of Twenty Years After. In 1648, Cardinal Richelieu is dead, France is gripped by civil war, and the now-middle-aged d’Artagnan’s career as a musketeer has stalled. Still merely a lieutenant after two decades of service, d’Artagnan is summoned one night by Cardinal Mazarin, who reminds the queen of her debt to the musketeer for his service twenty years earlier.

Back in the queen’s service and with an opportunity to finally advance his career, d’Artagnan must reunite his friends Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, who all left the Musketeers years ago. The friends must protect the queen and her son, the 10-year-old King Louis XIV, from the civil war and themselves from Milady’s son, Mordaunt, who wishes to avenge his mother’s death and kill the Musketeers.

In addition to restoring Dumas’s snappy dialogue and snarky humor that the Victorian-era translation stifled, Ellsworth restores Chapter XXIX, which has been absent from nearly every British and American version since the 19th century. Eminently readable, this version, as did Ellsworth’s 2018 translation of The Three Musketeers, displays Dumas’s frank depictions of sex and violence that earlier translators thought too indelicate for their 19th-century readers. Ellsworth’s backmatter of biographies of major historical characters adds to the clarity and enjoyability of the novel.

Fans of The Three Musketeers will delight in this latest translation and will eagerly await Ellsworth’s take on the next installment, Son of Milady.