It’s been 20 years since I read Alexandre Dumas’ classic – The Count of Monte Cristo, the freshness of relishing the adventurous story is still intact in my mind and heart. Today while I picked Jeffrey Archer’s novel – A Prisoner of Birth, I realized that it is a modern adaptation of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. An innocent sailor framed for a crime he didn’t commit, returns after 14 years of imprisonment to seek vengeance against the 3 foes who ruined his life.
Apart from the protagonist Edmond Dantes, the character who really made me notice was the second protagonist: Father Faria, an old convict who motivates the hero to seek vengeance for the wrongs committed by the enemies. Hadn’t Father Faria helped Edmond; he could never become the Count of Monte Cristo. Considered as mad priest by jail authorities, Father Faria grooms Edmond Dantes by teaching him politics, science, history, economics and giving him training in sword fighting. He makes Edmond realize who really betrayed him and motivates him to settle score with the enemies. Before dying Faria declares Edmond his successor and gives him a map that leads him to a treasure. It is that treasure that helps Edmond to become a wealthy Count. Alexandre Dumas has given the character of Father Faria very less yet significant moments that takes the story to a whole new level. Even father Faria’s backstory has element of suspense. The reader discovers that he too is falsely accused as a political prisoner and labeled as mad priest. If Father Faria was so intelligent, skilled then why couldn’t he escape from the dreaded prison? As per the history of France, the Chateau d’If prison was so heavily guarded that it was difficult to think about escaping from the dreaded prison. Living in that prison meant definite death.
Even in the Jeffrey Archer’s book – A prisoner of birth, there is a character similar to father Faria who plots an escape plan for the hero Daniel to escape from a high security jail. How Daniel escapes? Read the book – A prisoner of birth by Jeffrey Archer.
The real twist in the story comes when Father Faria dies and Edmond Dantes takes his place to escape from the dreaded jail. The escape of Edmond Dantes from the prison is like a gripping scene before the interval of the movie. The second phase of novel begins with Edmond Dantes becoming The Count of Monte Cristo and destroying all his three enemies: Danglars, Ferdinand and Assistant Prosecutor Villefort. Though Edmond is the hero of the novel, it is Father Faria who actually steals the scene and give the story a twist with his role. In movies, the role of Father Faria was played by actor Richard Harris in the 2002 movie adaptation of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. The 70’s and 80’s Bollywood movies – ‘Adalat’ ‘Duniya’ and ‘Aakhri Raasta’ were based on ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. Even Lew Wallace’s masterpiece book – Ben-Hur was similar to this classic.
I have yet to read the original novel which is very lengthy compared to the adapted version and has lots of subplots and new characters. If you love adventure novels with themes of mystery, romance and betrayal, then I highly recommend reading Alexandre Dumas’ novel – The Count of Monte Cristo.