The story is set in 17th-century France. Dumas’s portrait of the time, which was already two centuries past when he wrote about it, is unquestionably idealized. The novel is intended to play on the reader’s sense of nostalgia with a look back to a more romantic and picturesque time when men were gallant and chivalrous. Dumas constructs his tale around three historical events of the time: the affair of the queen’s diamonds, the siege of La Rochelle, and the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham, each of which dominates approximately one third of the novel. Many of most famous and powerful people of the time appear in the novel as Characters: King Louis XIII; his wife, Anne of Austria; his priest, Cardinal Richelieu; and Charles I’s prime minister of England, the Duke of Buckingham. Dumas intertwines the lives and actions of his fictional heroes with those of these important historical figures, depicting the latter as genuinely human Characters with a complex variety of motives, abilities, and faults. Many translations of the novel retain a smattering of French phrases and titles of address that add to the French atmosphere.

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