Reviews: The Countof Monte Cristo

A classic novel with lots of meat, but some filler.

I enjoyed this classic tale of revenge, but it has occasional pacing issues that make it hard for me to really love.

Edmond Dantes is an average sailor for whom everything is going right. He's up for a promotion, he has family and friends that love him, and he's getting married to his true love. All of a sudden, things take a turn for the worse when he is betrayed and thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit. In his incarceration, he meets a mad abbot who mentors him and tells him of a great treasure. Eventually, when the abbot dies, Dantes makes a daring escape, swims away from the island prison, and finds the treasure. He vows revenge on those who wronged him and takes on a new persona, The Count of Monte Cristo. Soon, he learns that all his old friends are on the verge of bankruptcy, while all his old enemies are now wealthy and powerful. And...

...and then we cut away to a completely different set of characters in a completely different setting. What's going on? I was getting excited about this plan for revenge that we've been building up to for the past couple hundred pages! What happened to Edmond Dantes and the Count of Monte Cristo? Nope, it seems the story has now switched perspectives and we're viewing the action from the perspective of the secondary characters in order to enhance the mystery of Edmond's new guise.

I get the purpose the perspective flip serves in the narrative, and Your Mileage May Vary on this, but I was excited about reading about the main character for whom I've been developing sympathy over the first however-many chapters, and I'm really not interested in this Franz guy and his holiday in Rome where he makes a passing acquaintance of the guy I'm actually interested in (who is doing his best to pretend the first part of the book never happened).

Luckily, the focus eventually shifts back to the Count, but he's not nearly as exciting to read about as Edmond Dantes. The best parts are when bits of Dantes slip through his facade—the little bits of revenge, like how he casually manipulates the stock market to make Danglars lose money, are pure win. And occasionally, the dramatic irony really shines through. With subplots drawing focus, though, the main plot slows down a lot (although in fairness, they're decent subplots).

Overall, a good read, if lengthy; I liked it and I'd recommend it.