My favorite novel is The Three Musketeers. I fell in love with the book as a teen – the swashbuckling, the swordfights (I am thinking of maybe trying fencing as a result), the spying, intrigue, all wrapped up in one tiny package. I visited the final resting place of Alexandre Dumas in Paris when I visited in 2019.
The version I fell in love with was the old Barnes & Noble Classics edition, which contained notations on the translations and backgrounds, etc.
He wrote more stories of D’artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, including the Man in the Iron Mask (which I didn’t read until a few years ago; my knowledge of the tale came form the 1998 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and Twenty Years After, which got a Barnes and Noble Classics release as well.
I am saddened to say that I couldn’t get into the story in that sequel. Admittedly the translation and the omission of key story points made it seem disjointed and less than entertaining. I couldn’t finish it.
Enter Lawrence Ellsworth.
Mr. Ellsworth, who made his name as a game writer and designer in the 70s and 80s, produced live-action role-playing weekends for 50 to 100 players, specializing in historical productions with romantic themes. While writing and researching The King’s Musketeers for this troupe, he became fascinated with early 17th-century France. This rekindled his interest in swashbuckler fiction, and he has since become a noted reviewer and authority on the subject.
Ellsworth learned French so he could read Dumas’s novels, and Richelieu’s memoirs, in the original language. In the process he did a translation of The Three Musketeers for fun and practice. This led him to compile a full translation and reconstruction of Alexandre Dumas’ “lost” novel The Red Sphinx, published in 2017.
I got a gold of the Red Sphinx last year and read it. While it was not as robust an adventure as Three Musketeers, it was still an entertaining classic tale in the genre. I had looked up Ellsworth again to do research on a future story (not Garrison Chase, but a screenplay this time), I came across his website.
Since Red Sphinx proved to be popular, Simon & Schuster commissioned him to translate the remaining tales in the Musketeer Saga, nine in total, some of which included material previously thought to be lost to time.
My jaw and laptop hit the floor when I read that. My favorite book not only had more stories, but nine in total!
My excitement grew when I read that six had already been published, including Twenty Years After, which included a lost chapter. And the reviews said Mr. Ellsworth’s translations were the best they had come across.
It’s not every day – at least in the book world (films are different) – that you get a continuation of your favorite story. To be able to not only get more, but thousands of pages of material, is a dream come true. I cannot wait to revisit the Musketeers and continue their adventures.
Have any of your favorite books received this treatment? Please let me know in the comments below!