This novel is one of the world's most famous adventure novels and is often referred to as the quintessential "swashbuckling" novel. Most readers throughout the Western world know something about the exploits of "the three musketeers."
In his preface, Dumas uses a literary device that was common during the romantic period in literature. That is, in order to give his novel a sense of being authentic, rather than a work of fiction, Dumas pretends that he discovered two old manuscripts, each of them written by a main character in this story. These old manuscripts, which were found in the Royal Library, supposedly tell the history of the three musketeers. The first manuscript, Memoirs of Monsieur d'Artagnan, was supposedly written by the most famous musketeer of all time, and the other manuscript, Memoirs of Count de La Fere (the novel we are about to read), was supposedly written by the musketeer Athos who was, in reality, the Count de La Fere. Thus, Dumas's Three Musketeers, using the device of being an old, authentic manuscript, gains credibility and immediacy by purporting to be a factual account of the daring, adventurous deeds of d'Artagnan and three of the most famous of the King's Musketeers.