Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold: The Count of Monte Cristo

Sep 1, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The story, characters, and moral

Cons:More people should read this book

The Bottom Line: The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale that established or was an early entry in the adventure novel genre. Well worth your time to read.


The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (1846)

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." Mark Twain

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great adventure stories of all time with a plot that examines the deepest twists and turns of the hidden recesses of the human heart.

Through the jealousy of several acquaintances, Edmond Dantes, a simple seafaring man, is implicated in a plot to restore exiled Emperor Napoleon to power.

Jailed within the notorious Chateau d’If, a maximum security prison off the coast of Marseilles, Dantes has plenty of time in solitary to despair his fate and mourn the loss of his sweetheart, when after several years he meets a fellow prisoner attempting to dig his way out of the prison.

Dantes’ newfound friend is the Abbe Faria, an Italian priest, who becomes Dantes’ mentor and teaches him all the subjects of the formal education that the simple sailor lacks. The aged priest also helps Dantes to gain insight into how he was betrayed and spirited away to the prison to be forgotten, while the accusers pursued their ill begotten courses. Dantes begins to live for revenge.

As time unwinds, the priest does not survive their joint attempt to tunnel to freedom but his death allows Dantes an opportunity to escape, by replacing the priest’s body in the winding sheet with his own. The priest had earlier confided in him the story of a fabulous treasure hidden on the deserted isle of Monte Cristo – a treasure trove that Napoleon coveted and jailed the priest when he denied knowledge of its whereabouts.

Free at last after 14 years, Dantes gets the treasure, adopts several new personas, learns the truth, and punishes the guilty through the elaborate stratagems he dreams up. He neutralizes each person’s strength, exposes their “Achilles’ heel” and uses the malefactor’s own vice to destroy him.

The story is involved and entertaining and also teaches the moral lesson that revenge is not as sweet as it seems when plotting it. Dantes had conceived himself as “divine Providence” in his righteous indignation abetted by his vast wealth; however, tragic repercussions of his incessant plotting bring him to the realization that there is a higher power and that he is only a cog in the greater mechanism.

Dantes seems to be the prototype for the action hero or even superhero as many of his attributes are larger than life.

The Count of Monte Cristo is usually found in abridged form; that is, the book has been edited down from its original larger size. In the case of this book, I believe the abridgement does no harm as there is still plenty of intrigue and twists without belaboring the reader with endless pages of description as is often present in Dumas’ other works.

This paperback version weighs in at 400 pages, the complete version runs about a thousand pages longer :o . If you are looking for a book to stimulate your imagination and show you how a good story should be told, The Count of Monte Cristo is recommended for you.

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