Friday, April 25, 2008

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale of wrongful imprisonment, escape and retribution. Edmond Dantes is thrown into prison (the notorious Chateaux D'If) on spurious charges of treason and left to rot. After years of solitude he makes contact with another prisoner and eventually escapes and vows to use his freedom for revenge after discovering a hoard of treasure. After restyling himself as the Count of Monte Cristo he sets his plans into action.

The first part of this book is a gripping and harrowing tale of imprisonment in inhuman conditions, coupled with brutal treatment and near starvation and madness. How Edmond makes contact with another prisoner who teaches him in a multitude of disciplines, learns of a hidden treasure and escapes makes for compulsive reading and this ection of the novel on its own would have made a complete book; and perhaps a better one than the result.

After discovering the treasure the Count of Monte Cristo becomes a somewhat sluggish story, dragging on for chapters upon chapters where a dozen or so would have sufficed. This novel was orignially a serialisation and this is evident as the reader slogs through a massive book which introduces so many characters, it at times becomes confusing.

After slowly reading through a huge amount of very slow action and dialogue and meeting new characters all the way through the book, the reader could be forgiven for forgetting which book they had started and the manner in which the revenge is executed is hugely disappointing. Largely, The Count's revenge is in the form of embarrassing his former persecutors and robbing them of their good standing in society, something that in today's society seems quite irrelevant and hardly a proper revenge for the suffering the main character endured.

Despite a superb start, The Count of Monte Cristo becomes a very slow and dull book and I found getting to the final page was similar to seeing the finish line of a marathon. Although many people class this as their favourite novel I would suggest that this is a rare occasion where the movie is better than the book.

Score: 5/10

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