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"It is the height of Spain's celebrated golden century - but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years' War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after "It is the height of Spain's celebrated golden century - but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years' War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame - though hardly quiet - life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste's." The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren't ordinary travelers - and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe "No era el hombre más honesto ni el más piadoso, pero era un hombre valiente"... Con estas palabras empieza El capitán Alatriste, la historia de un soldado veterano de los tercios de Flandes que malvive como espadachín a sueldo en el Madrid del siglo XVII. Sus aventuras peligrosas y apasionantes nos sumergen sin aliento en las intrigas de la Corte de una España corrupta y en decadencia, las emboscadas en callejones oscuros entre el brillo de dos aceros, las tabernas donde Francisco de Quevedo compone sonetos entre pendencias y botellas de vino, o los corrales de comedias donde las representaciones de Lope de Vega terminan a cuchilladas. Todo ello de la mano de personajes entrañables o fascinantes: el joven Íñigo Balboa, el implacable inquisidor fray Emilio Bocanegra, el peligroso asesino Gualterio Malatesta, o el diabólico secretario del rey, Luis de Alquézar. Acción, historia y aventura se dan cita en estas páginas inolvidables.


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"It is the height of Spain's celebrated golden century - but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years' War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after "It is the height of Spain's celebrated golden century - but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years' War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame - though hardly quiet - life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste's." The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren't ordinary travelers - and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe "No era el hombre más honesto ni el más piadoso, pero era un hombre valiente"... Con estas palabras empieza El capitán Alatriste, la historia de un soldado veterano de los tercios de Flandes que malvive como espadachín a sueldo en el Madrid del siglo XVII. Sus aventuras peligrosas y apasionantes nos sumergen sin aliento en las intrigas de la Corte de una España corrupta y en decadencia, las emboscadas en callejones oscuros entre el brillo de dos aceros, las tabernas donde Francisco de Quevedo compone sonetos entre pendencias y botellas de vino, o los corrales de comedias donde las representaciones de Lope de Vega terminan a cuchilladas. Todo ello de la mano de personajes entrañables o fascinantes: el joven Íñigo Balboa, el implacable inquisidor fray Emilio Bocanegra, el peligroso asesino Gualterio Malatesta, o el diabólico secretario del rey, Luis de Alquézar. Acción, historia y aventura se dan cita en estas páginas inolvidables.

30 review for Captain Alatriste

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    You're in Madrid. But the adventure here seems sorta like a half adventure. Indeed, has a minor climax & is like very sustained though brisk foreplay. It's too short to be miraculous, though it will inevitably leave you wanting more. (So, simply a great literary hook!) You're in Madrid. But the adventure here seems sorta like a half adventure. Indeed, has a minor climax & is like very sustained though brisk foreplay. It's too short to be miraculous, though it will inevitably leave you wanting more. (So, simply a great literary hook!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Short and elegant : a worthy addition to the panoply of memorable swashbucklers and a promising start of a long historical epic. The plot is simple, and the action scenes relatively few. The strong points are the recreation of the Madrid society around 1620 and the evocative language. The story alternates between first person narration by the young page Inigo Balboa and third person view. I wish I was fluent in Spanish and could read this in the original , especially the poems. Captain Diego Ala Short and elegant : a worthy addition to the panoply of memorable swashbucklers and a promising start of a long historical epic. The plot is simple, and the action scenes relatively few. The strong points are the recreation of the Madrid society around 1620 and the evocative language. The story alternates between first person narration by the young page Inigo Balboa and third person view. I wish I was fluent in Spanish and could read this in the original , especially the poems. Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio is set apart from the likes of D'Artagnan, Zorro or Pardaillan by the fact that he is a lot less talkative, has a passion for books and for the verses of Lope de Vega or Quevedo, doesn't claim the moral superiority of the pure knight on a white horse. If he can win a fight through a dirty trick, so be it: "He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I am a big fan of Arturo Perez-Reverte, but this book was a little bit of a disappoint me for me. As usual, Perez-Reverte's writing style manages to mingle in an amazing amount of fascinating history within an otherwise simple plot. The problem this time was too much history and exposition and too little actual plot. I could tell you the whole "story" in about four sentences. The narrator in the story is recounting tales from his youth - so it's a little like listening to my grandmother ramble o I am a big fan of Arturo Perez-Reverte, but this book was a little bit of a disappoint me for me. As usual, Perez-Reverte's writing style manages to mingle in an amazing amount of fascinating history within an otherwise simple plot. The problem this time was too much history and exposition and too little actual plot. I could tell you the whole "story" in about four sentences. The narrator in the story is recounting tales from his youth - so it's a little like listening to my grandmother ramble on. He starts with the story, but then gets side-tracked to explain the history of Spain or the people in the story to set the scene for how they've all arrived at this point in the tale. Then we're back to the story briefly, before we go forward in time a little to hear about what happens to the narrator or other characters later in their lives OR what happens to the culture of Spain itself. Then back to the story for a second. Forward, backwards, "now," over and over again. It made it a little difficult to follow. I will say though that I'm now halfway through the second book in this series and it is MUCH better. And perhaps the Captain Alatriste had to be more exposition than story just to set the stage for the rest of the series?!? So I guess I recommend the series and therefore it's worth the 3 or 4 hour read of Captain Alatriste to get started.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Captain Alatriste, a romantic soldier of fortune of Hapsburg Spain, is the protagonist of this series by Perez-Revertez. Just his luck to get embroiled in a dynasty scheme. Reminds me of the Three Musketeers a bit. Also, truly book one of a series. This sets the stage

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Swashbuckling. Seriously. That's all this book is about. If that's not enough of a point for you? Well. You just don't know how to have fun.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    added may 2016 - after visiting Spain (Andalusia - Granada, Seville, Cordoba and a few other places and Madrid) and being impressed much more than I expected (probably due to the fact that in most of my childhood and even later books, the Spanish were generally the villains as those books were either English or French, but overall after visiting the three main Latin countries, Italy, France and Spain, i think I liked Spain the most overall), have to reread this as maybe now it will tell me more a added may 2016 - after visiting Spain (Andalusia - Granada, Seville, Cordoba and a few other places and Madrid) and being impressed much more than I expected (probably due to the fact that in most of my childhood and even later books, the Spanish were generally the villains as those books were either English or French, but overall after visiting the three main Latin countries, Italy, France and Spain, i think I liked Spain the most overall), have to reread this as maybe now it will tell me more after reading about half, I can say that visting the places where the novel takes place and imaging the atmosphere helps a lot, so this will become a much better read for me original review 2009 I never could read a Perez-Reverte book end to end and I tried 4 or 5 so far - somehow they are too flat, they promise a lot but do not deliver. Finally I forced myself to finish Alatriste 1 and it was ok, something to read if I have nothing else, but not something exciting so I decided to put the author on the avoid for now list

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    The story in this novel takes place in the 17th Century Spain during the reign of Philip IV, the golden age of Spanish power. The plot is based upon an actual historic occurrence in 1623 when the Prince of Wales (Charles Stuart) and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, traveled incognito to Spain to try to reach agreement on the long-pending match between Charles and Infanta Maria Anna of Spain, the younger sister of King Philip IV. The fictional action of this book starts with its main char The story in this novel takes place in the 17th Century Spain during the reign of Philip IV, the golden age of Spanish power. The plot is based upon an actual historic occurrence in 1623 when the Prince of Wales (Charles Stuart) and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, traveled incognito to Spain to try to reach agreement on the long-pending match between Charles and Infanta Maria Anna of Spain, the younger sister of King Philip IV. The fictional action of this book starts with its main character, Alatriste, being paid to kill a pair of unknown English visitors in Madrid who turn out to be the Prince and Villiers traveling incognito. Life becomes quite complicated for Alatriste when at the last minute he decides not to kill the two strangers, and suddenly the plotters of the scheme have every reason to want Alatriste dead because he knows about their conspiracy. The characters in this story remind me of Dumas' Three Musketeers, but the book, Captain Alatriste, is much shorter and concise in its construction. The story takes place at about the same time as Dumas' novel, but of course Alatriste is Spanish and the Dumas characters were French. These characters are quite frankly not the sort of people I would want to be near in real life. They are professional soldiers waiting for the next war. In the meantime they have nothing better to do other than sit around in taverns waiting for the next excuse to fight a duel. This novel is told in first person from the perspective of an old man recalling the story as it happened in his youth. He is thus able to offer some perspective and judgment based on the experience of the subsequent years. Here is a sample of how the golden age of Spain is described in the book: "And that infamous period was called the Siglo de Oro? What Golden Age, eh? The truth is that those of us who lived and suffered through it saw little gold and barely enough silver. Sterile sacrifice, glorious defeats, corruption, rogues, misery, and shame, that we had up to the eyebrows." ... "and no one worked except the wretched peasants, exploited by the tax collectors ..." The narration paints a vivid and gritty picture of that time in history. Details from body lice to excrement in the streets are quite jarring to a 21st Century reader. The mechanics of killing, and being killed, with a sword are presumably accurate, but I'd just as soon not have to read about it. The author spends a lot of time describing 17th Century Madrid and quoting sonnets from the period. By the time the novel is finished you will learn about the king's favored adviser, Olivares (Gaspar de Guzmán y Acevedo, 1st Count-Duke of Olivares, 1587-1645). According to the author he was an evil person. Historians have often blamed him for the demise of the Spanish power. However, modern historians generally believe he was simply following the King's wishes, and the prevailing corruption of the time was not something for which he can be blamed. We also meet another "bad guy" in the person of the king's secretary Luis de Alquézar, and his entrancing niece Angélica de Alquézar (c.1611–c.1640). It's hinted in the book that we'll be hearing more about Angélica and her uncle in upcoming books in the series. We know that Angélica is a historical character because she was portrayed by Diego Velázquez in 1635. I presume her uncle is a historical character also, but I'm unable to confirm that. I wish the author had included a note commenting on which of the characters are historical personages. I selected this book to check out whether I wanted to pursue the rest of the series. The books are translated from Spanish. The following is a list of the books in the series and the year published in USA: 1. Captain Alatriste, USA 2005 2. Purity of Blood, USA 2006 3. The Sun over Breda, USA 2007 4. The King's Gold, USA 2008 5. The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet, USA 2009 6. Pirates of the Levant, USA 2010A movie based on the series, titled Alatriste, was released in September 1, 2006, directed by Agustín Díaz Yanes and starring Viggo Mortensen. (The DVD is not yet released for North America.) The series of books started when the author, Pérez-Reverte, decided that there was a lack of history of the Spanish Golden Age in the school textbook of his teenaged daughter Carlota. He commissioned Carlota to gather documentation for him (hence, she is billed as co-author of the first novel) and developed the stories. Pérez-Reverte is influenced by the works of many novelists, in particular 19th-century writers like Alexandre Dumas, and his D'Artagnan Romances. He also applies the dark tone of his experiences as a war reporter. The period settings allows him to insert references to the authors (including Lope de Vega and Cervantes) and artists (including Diego Velázquez). He reflects on Spain and the Spaniards as a people united that, in spite of being at war with all the major European powers, are capable of showing bravery and honor.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    Translated by Margaret Peden. Set in the 1620s, this historical novel centers on the titular soldier, a melancholy man wounded in Flanders and now haunting Madrid as a sword for hire. Hired by two masked men, who are clearly powerful officials, with the backing of a much-feared Inquisitor, Alatriste is charged with killing two English travelers. Sensing something wrong, he lets them live, only to find out later it is the Duke of Buckingham and Prince Charles, attempting to secure the prince’s we Translated by Margaret Peden. Set in the 1620s, this historical novel centers on the titular soldier, a melancholy man wounded in Flanders and now haunting Madrid as a sword for hire. Hired by two masked men, who are clearly powerful officials, with the backing of a much-feared Inquisitor, Alatriste is charged with killing two English travelers. Sensing something wrong, he lets them live, only to find out later it is the Duke of Buckingham and Prince Charles, attempting to secure the prince’s wedding to the Spanish infanta. This act of mercy puts Alatriste on many powerful people’s black lists, but he stays in Madrid, fatalistically waiting for whatever will befall. This is an exquisitely realized novel, absolutely entertaining and very skillfully written. There’s little of the brutish, formulaic pabulum of the Sharpe novels here – Alatriste is no superman, and relies as much on luck and craft as his skill to live. This book is also at least as much about the Golden Age of Spain than about any one man: Francisco de Quevedo is Alatriste’s friend, and luminaries such as Lope de Vega and Diego Velasquez are mentioned frequently. Perez-Reverte’s narrator (a youth named Inigo, Alatriste’s de facto ward) ruminates on the state of 17th century Spain with all its corruption and dangers, on the festivities and attitudes of the time, on courage and honor, on what sort of man lived by the sword in those times. In short, there is as much historical as there is novel in this book, and both parts are equally enjoyable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    6/7 - 6/8 First off, I can't remember the last time I started and finished a book in one day. Yeesh. Not a lot going on today I guess. Anyway, I have read and enjoyed several of Perez-Reverte's books and have been looking forward to this series. I was not blown away. The characters were were pretty plain, and I really didn't like the narrator at all; the classic 'I'm old now and I'm gonna tell you some stories from a long time ago' type guy. Also, The profanity he uses throughout the book doesn't 6/7 - 6/8 First off, I can't remember the last time I started and finished a book in one day. Yeesh. Not a lot going on today I guess. Anyway, I have read and enjoyed several of Perez-Reverte's books and have been looking forward to this series. I was not blown away. The characters were were pretty plain, and I really didn't like the narrator at all; the classic 'I'm old now and I'm gonna tell you some stories from a long time ago' type guy. Also, The profanity he uses throughout the book doesn't work to get you to believe in the characters... it seems completely gratuitous and out of place. I would give this only two stars, bbbuuutttt... it is a translation from the original Spanish, and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the translation was flawed... I have read several of his other books and enjoyed them enough, so at least some of the blame goes on the translator (I just looked at three of his books here off the cuff and they all have different translators).

  10. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    In the era of The Three Musketeers comes a Spaniard with a sharp sword. He knows too many poets, priests, and minor nobility to live an altogether safe life. I mean, waaaaaay too many poets. But there are sword-fights, moments of nobility, and a great deal of derring-do. And poems. This is too short a book for as many lines of poetry are in it. A good read, although it does drop into "too many historical details, yes yes, I know you did your research but wouldn't some plot be nice here?" mode fro In the era of The Three Musketeers comes a Spaniard with a sharp sword. He knows too many poets, priests, and minor nobility to live an altogether safe life. I mean, waaaaaay too many poets. But there are sword-fights, moments of nobility, and a great deal of derring-do. And poems. This is too short a book for as many lines of poetry are in it. A good read, although it does drop into "too many historical details, yes yes, I know you did your research but wouldn't some plot be nice here?" mode from time to time. Like, the end of the book is more poems. I'm not against poetry. But this is more of a novelette fluffed out by poetry--although I suspect the book was written because of the research in poetry, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Campbell

    An entertaining, swashbuckling romp through a gorgeously brightly-painted 17th Century Madrid.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    It is interesting how we come to read certain books - we like the cover, the bumf on the back sounds interesting, people are talking about it... In this case I saw the film - "The Spanish Musketeer". I thought the film was brilliant with one or two moments (especially the battle of Rocroi) which were an epiphany for me. I looked up Arturo Pérez-Reverte and became interested in the fact that he had decided to write the Captain Alatriste series because he was disgusted at the poor level of knowled It is interesting how we come to read certain books - we like the cover, the bumf on the back sounds interesting, people are talking about it... In this case I saw the film - "The Spanish Musketeer". I thought the film was brilliant with one or two moments (especially the battle of Rocroi) which were an epiphany for me. I looked up Arturo Pérez-Reverte and became interested in the fact that he had decided to write the Captain Alatriste series because he was disgusted at the poor level of knowledge of Spanish History, especially of the "Golden Era" that Spanish youth had; it was his equivalent of Dumas (or Sienkiewicz... or the Flashman series). I was hooked - I had to read the first in the series. I realised that my reading experience would be very different to the film (it is, I feel, obvious when you watch it that it is a "compilation" of all the books), and part of me initially said I wish I hadn't watched the film, but that feeling soon passed away as I became involved in this very well written story. Perez-Reverte is a very good writer. The story is written in a very casual manner, as though you are sat with the narrator, in a bar, as he chats about this character, Alatriste. The book sucks you in in a very relaxed way and before you know it you want to know what happens next. The storyline is simple but the plot is complicated and the society that Perez-Reverte depicts is verging on the psychotic. Murder and assassination seem to be everyday and a man has to be able to handle a sword whether he's a soldier home from the wars in Flanders or a poet. Like Dumas and co, Perez-Reverte's story is based on historical facts that can be researched and validated separately. "Captain Alatriste" is a simple introduction to his character - quiet, thoughtful, slightly scurrilous, loyal yet no flunky - and to the world he lives in. He becomes pulled into a political and religious intrigue and partly extricates himself as a result of his quick wits... as if that were all there were to it... I thoroughly recommend this book to lovers of Historical Fiction and shall certainly be reading the rest of the series over the months to come.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Okay, so I'm teaching the second in a three course sequence on world theatre history, and we've just been covering Spanish Siglo de Oro theatre (Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca, Tirso de Molina, etc.). So I was searching around on you-tube for some good recreation footage of a performance in a corral de comedias, and stumbled across a 2006 film called Alatriste with a very charming scene set in such a theatre. (At a certain point, I got a strange inkling of Aragorn rather than Aragon-- sure e Okay, so I'm teaching the second in a three course sequence on world theatre history, and we've just been covering Spanish Siglo de Oro theatre (Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca, Tirso de Molina, etc.). So I was searching around on you-tube for some good recreation footage of a performance in a corral de comedias, and stumbled across a 2006 film called Alatriste with a very charming scene set in such a theatre. (At a certain point, I got a strange inkling of Aragorn rather than Aragon-- sure enough, Viggo plays the starring role). Anyhow, I soon learned that this film was based on this popular series of novels, all set in 1620s Spain. I picked up a copy last Friday, and finished it this last Monday. As one might surmise from the fact that my last post to Goodreads commemorating my finishing volume 1 of a massive literary novel (after about 2 years), I have found popular fiction a refreshing change of pace. In fact, there's not much I can say about this novel that wouldn't be a spoiler. Except the insider's fact that the novel follows the plot conventions of a Siglo de Oro "capa y espada" (cape and sword) play, and contains various nice bits of period poetry by the likes of Lope and Calderon (and a few apparently by the author as well). Nice swashbuckling entertainment, though not, I hear, as good as some of the author's earlier works that have nothing to do with Alatriste.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I've just finished Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" and was curious as to how a modern writer would treat this kind of story. I've read two works by Arturo Perez-Reverte ("The Flanders Panel" and "The Fencing Master" and enjoyed both) and in fact the subject of "fencing", as related in "Monte Cristo/Alatriste" with duels, etc., led me directly to "Captain Alatriste." I believe this book is the first of at least five more in this series, and it serves a prologue to the rest of the story: here w I've just finished Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" and was curious as to how a modern writer would treat this kind of story. I've read two works by Arturo Perez-Reverte ("The Flanders Panel" and "The Fencing Master" and enjoyed both) and in fact the subject of "fencing", as related in "Monte Cristo/Alatriste" with duels, etc., led me directly to "Captain Alatriste." I believe this book is the first of at least five more in this series, and it serves a prologue to the rest of the story: here we have a bit of Alatriste's background, we have mysterious men in mask, we have political intrigue, we have questionable identities. In fact, we have many elements similar to the opening elements of "Monte Cristo". So, today, authors would give us a series of books: if Dumas were publishing today, he would no doubt have given us at lease five volumes of "The Count of Monte Cristo." Times change! And after all, there is far more money to be made in five volumes than just one! Capitalism at its finest. And so far, Alatriste Volume 1 is good enough to keep going!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    This wasn't bad. The problem is, once you've read the likes of Captain Blood other adventure tales pale in comparison. This wasn't bad. The problem is, once you've read the likes of Captain Blood other adventure tales pale in comparison.

  16. 4 out of 5

    William

    Magnificent. Reminded me of the action movies that I grew up watching in the 1950's. Maybe something directed by Orson Welles, starring Errol Flynn, and presented in black-and-white without the distraction of profanity.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    I have been a long-time fan of Arturo Perez-Reverte, for a variety of reasons I will get to in a moment. But before I begin my gushing, I would like to note my minimal disappointment in him for the Captain Alatriste series. I find series, like television series, significantly more difficult to "write correctly". It ends up leading toward quantity over quality, the adage "less is more" coming in handy quite frequently. As opposed to short stories- or short films, to follow the analogy- where cond I have been a long-time fan of Arturo Perez-Reverte, for a variety of reasons I will get to in a moment. But before I begin my gushing, I would like to note my minimal disappointment in him for the Captain Alatriste series. I find series, like television series, significantly more difficult to "write correctly". It ends up leading toward quantity over quality, the adage "less is more" coming in handy quite frequently. As opposed to short stories- or short films, to follow the analogy- where condensing is the art. Or Perez-Reverte's forte, the novel, where it feels like each word is necessary, each scene considered, each chapter necessary. This series was far too long. I am confident in this assessment as I already feel this way two of of seven books in. I found it validating that the 2006 film, "Alatriste", starting Viggo Mortenson from " The Road", need be less than three hours. This is no "Game of Thrones", one series season a book. What we get here is the ebb and flow of a good story lengthened at unecessary points, making other details seem rushed, other necessary narrative structure aspects seem disproportionately lengthy. Worst of all, the abrupt ending to "Captain Alatriste" makes it blatantly that there will be a sequel. And not because it is a cliff-hanger. "Captain Alatriste" actually ties necessary loose ends in that it could stand alone as a novel. Except for the pacing and anticlimactic conclusion, which goes a little something like this, referencing The Hero's Journey [http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero... ordinary would, call to adventure, refusal, (barely any meeting the mentor or crossing the threshold), tests, ordeal (extremely short), the reward, the road back. And then the ending trails off after that. No resurrection or return of the elixir, the necessary stages eleven and twelve. "Purity of Blood" is significantly better in pacing, with illustration of most of the stages. It still was left open-ended for the series continuance, though. In conclusion, I would have respected the novels far more had they not been forced into a series. But, they were, and I rated accordingly. Luckily for readers, Perez-Reverte is a talented enough author that his storytelling proficiency and handling of language makes up for most of this. Prince Alatriste. A character that I greatly admire; written well and, importantly, consistent. The facts: Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio (1582–1643), Leonese soldier since he was 13. Never an official captain, he earned the nickname when he had to briefly take command of his unit after their real captain was killed. He survives in peacetime as a sword for hire in Madrid.  The more important facts can best be described by a sonnet written by his friend, poet Don Francisco de Quevedo: "You, Diego, whose sword so nobly defends The name and honor of your family, As long as you are blessed with life to live, You will battle every enemy. You wear the tunic of an old brigade, And with God's help, you wear it without stain. Your scruples are so uncompromising That you will never let it be profaned. Courageous on the bloody battlefield, In days of peace, still more honor you acquire. And in your heart and mind there breathes such fire That to empty boasting you will never yield." No words from me needed. Speaking of the poems, they were a pleasure to read. Not being a reader of poetry, I had a hard time understanding several of them, but there were many others, scattered throughout the text and then at the end of the story, describing characters, mocking situations, describing the culture, emphasizing pride for Spain, even in a "poet-off", responding to another poet's less then flattering poetry. Next on the list of things I loved in the first two books is Perez's already established impressive expertise on the fascinating history of fencing. Mind you, the real study of ancient fencing, not today's changed "sport" with all its safety precautions. In Captain Alatriste's universe, fencing was not a "sport". Or a "sport". It was a necessary way of life. Survival. One misstep could equal a bloody death. I actually liked the author's "The Fencing Master" where he goes into far greater detail with the art. But you will have to read my review for that one to learn more! The settings of his stories are always intriguing. His descriptions make them even magnificent. Thrilling. Unbelievable. Fascinating. Even better yet, then, to find out that these are real places, in works history. The Captain Alatriste series takes place in the 1620s, 1623-1626 to be exact, so far. A time with balls and courtesans, kinds and queens, gold and silver. And swordsmanship. There are seven novels written in the series as of 2011, with two more in the works. The series is narrated by Íñigo Balboa y Aguirre, the young Basque squire of Alatriste. He is the son of Lope Balboa, who was an old friend and comrade of Alatriste. Alatriste's pledge to the dying Lope is to take care of his son. Young Iñigo follows Alatriste like a shadow, idolizing him, although he rarely expresses any live, affection, or even vocal appreciation when Iñigo saves his life. Alatriste tries to steer him away from his dangerous lifestyle, but Iñigo's tenacity eventually wins. Once this is understood, Alatriste shows him a thing or two. Alongside all this, historic Spanish events are mentioned, cultural information is given. A short guide to ancient Spain. As far as I can tell, Perez-Reverte includes these with accuracy. As illustrated by his previous novel "The Dumas Club", Perez-Reverte has a great appreciation for Spanish literature. Cervantes references are also frequent, which I fully admired. In the first novel, it is 1623. Diego Alatriste and Italian sword-for-hire Gualterio Malatesta are paid by two mysterious masked characters to kill a pair of unknown English visitors in Madrid. They are hired by cloaked characters, as mysterious as they are dangerous. To be exact, after they are given their directions to merely rob the travelers with "no blood" by a man who leaves the room, a hidden character reveals himself from behind a wall. This man offers more than double for them to kill the travelers. Alatriste and Malatesta accept. It is quickly discovered that the motivation behind this is religious. In "Purity of Blood", it is still 1623, Madrid. The author focuses even more on religious aspects, the title referring to Portuguese, Jewish blood being unpure, grounds for immediate death by most, the Royal Court included. The novel opens with the murder of a woman, left in front of the church. Quevedo seeks help from Alatriste to rescue a girl forced to enter a convent; meanwhile Alatriste's young squire Íñigo Balboa deepens his infatuation with the adolescent maidservant of the Queen, Angélica de Alquézar. The Italian Malatesta returns, continuing the rivalry. **** Spoilers *** Captain Alatriste: On the night of their deed, The Italian (who is discernable by his "ti-ri-tu, ta-ta" incantation- something that gives him away in future duels) and Alatriste are about to finish the men when Alatriste had a change of heart and spares the men, forcing Malatesta as well. (This despite the Italian's dishonorable, vindictively cunning tricks, such as miming a surrender.) Malatesta leaves the scene with the promise of revenge. Alas, the intended victims turn out to be the Duke of Buckingham and the Prince of Wales, on a mission to seduce the Infanta. A high profile, high danger, high complexity assignment. Everything he tries hard to avoid. Unfortunately, having been deceived, Alatriste little choice in the matter now. The Prince, for his part, is most grateful and swears to be in Alatriste's debt. The second villain here turns out to be the hidden man in that room long ago. A Dominican friar named Bocanegra, an official of the Inquisition. Cloaked by his followers in the church as well as lies, bureaucracy, politics, and red tape, he is almost untouchable. His known but unseen presence seems to envoke a feeling of doom throughout. "Purity of Blood": During their rescue of the girl, young Iñigo is captured by the Inquisition. It is found out by Alatriste and Quevedo that they were set up by the rival from Book One, Malatrsta. Iñigo is tortured, but no matter how intolerable it becomes, he refuses to mention any names. Calling on favors from those whom are indebted to him (unsurprisingly, there are many), Captain Alatriste achieves the impossible. He finds information that prevents Iñigo's death by gauntlet, a public spectacle. The information? That the King's favorite, with the power to grant clemency and to pardon, is of "unpure" blood as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    I read this last year and just could not--at all--get into it. Put it down and left it there for about a year. I read it again this year and could not say what I found so disagreeable the last time around. Were there issues with the translation? That is unfortunate and all too common for foreign language works. Even this site doesn't list the translator, because I think most people don't realize what an artform translation is. So I did some checking, and Margaret Sayers Peden is highly acclaimed I read this last year and just could not--at all--get into it. Put it down and left it there for about a year. I read it again this year and could not say what I found so disagreeable the last time around. Were there issues with the translation? That is unfortunate and all too common for foreign language works. Even this site doesn't list the translator, because I think most people don't realize what an artform translation is. So I did some checking, and Margaret Sayers Peden is highly acclaimed in her field. And except for some of the poetry, I found the writing solid and beautiful, without the need to be overly literal that you see in some (poor) translations. Frankly, I do not know enough about Spanish poetry of the period to accurately judge the verses I disliked. Only enough to see that there were differences. The book is not a companion to the Three Musketeers, and yet it is. Of that era and a larger part of that world. Here we see Buckingham visiting Spain under cloak of darkness, and Richelieu's gold hunting him and his companion. And yet he is hunted not for France's reasons, but for Spain's. The book is a love song to Spain, in its Golden Century. At the height of its power and rotting from within. The king not weak but not kingly either; a bravo rather than a ruler, his realm in the hands of his favourite advisor de Olivares, and the High Inquisitor, Frey Emilio Bocanegra. The two of these together, though enemies, serve as the Richelieu analog, and like Richelieu at least Olivares was a genuine historical figure. There were so many characters I assumed invented for the text, so perfect in their ridiculousness; Don Francisco de Quevedo, that heckler of hunchbacks, that duellist in pince-nez, with his gold spurs and his rebellious politics. And yet he was a real poet of the era, his duels a matter of history, as were his golden spurs. The problem I had with this story is that our protagonist, our eponymous hero, Diego Alatriste, is more of a plot agent at the whims of history than a character with his own ambitions. I do not mean to imply that he is thinly written. He is not. He has his code of honour, and his likes are Spain's likes. The poetry and plays of Lope. The paintings of Velazquez before he had taken that name. But things only seem to happen to him, rather than by his design. I wanted to see him solving more of his problems, rather than just weathering them. But in this Reverte may be showing his hand. This is a romance, as Dumas's D'Artagnan stories were, but Reverte does not share Dumas's idealism, nor his optimism. Nor mine. I am looking forward to book two.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Commodore Tiberius Q. Handsome

    I learned that every single Spanish author is better than every single American one. I am extrapolating my survey of two Spanish authors (this one and Zufon) and applying it to the whole, though. Anyway this splendid novel is a swashbuckler, featuring super-Spaniard and swordsman-for-hire Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, the eponymous hero and adventurer. He spends most of his time in 17th Century Spain being awesome and running his rapier through suckers' guts. TAKE THAT BITCHEZ. Historical a I learned that every single Spanish author is better than every single American one. I am extrapolating my survey of two Spanish authors (this one and Zufon) and applying it to the whole, though. Anyway this splendid novel is a swashbuckler, featuring super-Spaniard and swordsman-for-hire Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, the eponymous hero and adventurer. He spends most of his time in 17th Century Spain being awesome and running his rapier through suckers' guts. TAKE THAT BITCHEZ. Historical adventure fiction in the mold of Dumas and Scott. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fletcher Vredenburgh

    Terrific swashbuckling adventure set in Madrid during the Spanish Empire's Golden Age. Even more than the titular hero Captain Alatriste, the city of Madrid is the star of the book. Poets duel with vicious verse, the hand of the Inquisition reaches from the shadows to work its will, and out-of-work soldiers fill the streets. Perez-Reverte brings a too little known (in America) age back to life and tells an exciting tale as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    As far as novels go, I think my favorites come from Pérez-Reverte. This, a Spanish love letter to Dumas, is probably my second favorite novel of his. It's full of gritty swashbuckling fun, with, and provides an excellent snapshot of Madrid in that time period.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dean Hamilton

    "He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous. His name was Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, and he fought in the ranks during the Flemish wars. When I met him he was barely making ends meet in Madrid, hiring himself out for four maravedis in employ of little glory, often as a swordsman for those who had neither the skill nor the daring to settle their own quarrels. You know the sort I mean: a cuckolded husband here, outstanding gambling debts there, a petty lawsuit or questionabl "He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous. His name was Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, and he fought in the ranks during the Flemish wars. When I met him he was barely making ends meet in Madrid, hiring himself out for four maravedis in employ of little glory, often as a swordsman for those who had neither the skill nor the daring to settle their own quarrels. You know the sort I mean: a cuckolded husband here, outstanding gambling debts there, a petty lawsuit or questionable inheritance, and more troubles of that kind. It is easy to criticize now, but in those days the capital of all the Spains was a place where a man had to fight for life on a street corner lighted by the gleam of two blades." So begins Arturo Perez-Reverte's stellar tale of a former soldier turned street-sword for hire in Spain's Golden Age. Originally published in Spain where it sold mroe than a million copies, Perez-Reverte's work has now crossed the Pond and has made its debut in a superlative and evocative English translation. Ex-soldier and blade-for-hire Diego Alatriste y Tenorio is hired through intermediaries to waylay and murder two English travellers to Madrid. Privately instructed by one of his paymasters to merely wound the travellers, when Alatriste, touched by their honorable conduct, allows the travellers to live, he finds himself the target of a vicious conspiracy out to destablize the tenuous peace between Spain and England...with the Inquisition furiously pursuing Alatriste for reneging on his deadly bargain. Captain Alatriste paints a marvelous swashbuckling historic picture of Madrid in Spain's Golden era, evoking the splendid colorful swagger of the streets with the politics and factions orbiting the Spanish courts. The book brings poetry, excitement, romance and a smooth textual verve that must be read to be truly understood and appreciated. The second book in the series The Purity of Blood is already on the shelves and a film version of Captain Alatriste is apparently now in the works with Viggo Mortenson in the title role. My recommendation for some good summer holiday readings is to crack open Captain Alastriste and let the smooth heady prose of Arturo Perez-Reverte work its magic. You will not be disappointed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thais

    This is a male-dominated book. The only two female characters are: - a large-bosomed mother-like figure who is there to love, nurture and sleep with the male characters and - an inherently evil child-seductress whose main role is to give one of the male characters his first-love experience, as well as a reason to feel sorry for himself. They never meet, by the way. So, yes, Philip Roth pales in comparison. But the book is also a vivid and, to my best knowledge, accurate recreation of life in Madrid i This is a male-dominated book. The only two female characters are: - a large-bosomed mother-like figure who is there to love, nurture and sleep with the male characters and - an inherently evil child-seductress whose main role is to give one of the male characters his first-love experience, as well as a reason to feel sorry for himself. They never meet, by the way. So, yes, Philip Roth pales in comparison. But the book is also a vivid and, to my best knowledge, accurate recreation of life in Madrid in the 17th century. Blending real historical figures with fictional characters, the author manages to create a very Dumasian atmosphere of adventure, intrigue and, sadly, very malicious women who were just born like that and who are bound to treat the nice male characters unjustly. Despite its flaws, the book continues to be very engrossing, specially for those who are interested in Spanish Culture/History or in historical novels in general. And it was also very instructive, when it comes to the Spanish language. The vocabulary is so rich that I must have looked up hundreds of words.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    "It was an era of quixotic, sterile deeds that determined reason and right at the imperious tip of a sword." It is the late summer of the Spanish Empire: Spain is at the height of its power. Treasure ships arriving regularly from the New World, fueling the court scene in Madrid. The defeat of the Invincible Armada has cast the first pall of mortality, and the indeterminable war in Flanders drains the country. The Empire will not last, but meanwhile the court dances to the art of the theater, poet "It was an era of quixotic, sterile deeds that determined reason and right at the imperious tip of a sword." It is the late summer of the Spanish Empire: Spain is at the height of its power. Treasure ships arriving regularly from the New World, fueling the court scene in Madrid. The defeat of the Invincible Armada has cast the first pall of mortality, and the indeterminable war in Flanders drains the country. The Empire will not last, but meanwhile the court dances to the art of the theater, poetry, and the sharp knives of intrigue. The events of the book have long shadows: a relatively simple job goes deliberately wrong, with long repercussions for Diego Alatriste and his friends. Even more so, Íñigo Balboa's narration hint at further dark actions and events and the ignominious decline of Spain and its monarch over the next decades. Its compactness and economy of scale is remarkable, fitting this puzzle piece of intrigue and action into some 250 pages, which still manages to be steeped in the near-decadence and languorous lifestyle of the time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ron Seckinger

    The first in a series by one of Spain's best-known contemporary novelists, this slim book chronicles the adventures of a Spanish soldier down on his luck in 1620s Madrid. Like other veterans of Spain's wars in Flanders, Alatriste survives as a bodyguard- or assassin-for-hire during the reign of Philip IV, following his own code of honor. Beautifully translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, the book is a rousing account of court intrigues, love affairs, swordplay, and international rivalries constant The first in a series by one of Spain's best-known contemporary novelists, this slim book chronicles the adventures of a Spanish soldier down on his luck in 1620s Madrid. Like other veterans of Spain's wars in Flanders, Alatriste survives as a bodyguard- or assassin-for-hire during the reign of Philip IV, following his own code of honor. Beautifully translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, the book is a rousing account of court intrigues, love affairs, swordplay, and international rivalries constantly trending toward renewed war. Pérez-Reverte's novels serve as the basis for a Spanish series, "Las Aventuras del Capitán Alatriste," available through Amazon Prime. Aitor Luna inhabits the title role, proficient in the use of sword and cape and providing a model for the 13-year-old orphaned son of a former comrade while romancing a lovely tavern-owner and a gorgeous actress. Both novel and TV series make for swash-buckling fun.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lesia Joukova

    I really really liked this one! Arturo's works are beautiful and this one is so heavily influenced by the Three Musketeers that a fact from the book is even referenced throughout it like it's totally canon. And I'm fine with that. I loved this book and I need to go on with the series. I do think that if you speak Spanish, you should totally read that in the original, otherwise you're kind of missing out. This is one of those books where every sentence is a gem. Maybe I'll read the 2nd one in Russ I really really liked this one! Arturo's works are beautiful and this one is so heavily influenced by the Three Musketeers that a fact from the book is even referenced throughout it like it's totally canon. And I'm fine with that. I loved this book and I need to go on with the series. I do think that if you speak Spanish, you should totally read that in the original, otherwise you're kind of missing out. This is one of those books where every sentence is a gem. Maybe I'll read the 2nd one in Russian :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Good look at history of the place and period, but all that macho can be hard to take.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne (It's All About Books)

    Pages: 242 “No era el hombre más honesto ni el más piadoso, pero era un hombre valiente.” (view spoiler)[ I had made a promise to myself last year to start reading more in Spanish again, but apparently that promise was soon forgotten... I only just managed to squeeze in this story before 2017 ended, which definitely wasn't what I had originally planned for the year. I have read Arturo Pérez-Reverte's work in the past, so I thought the first book of the Adventures Of Captain Alatriste woul Pages: 242 “No era el hombre más honesto ni el más piadoso, pero era un hombre valiente.” (view spoiler)[ I had made a promise to myself last year to start reading more in Spanish again, but apparently that promise was soon forgotten... I only just managed to squeeze in this story before 2017 ended, which definitely wasn't what I had originally planned for the year. I have read Arturo Pérez-Reverte's work in the past, so I thought the first book of the Adventures Of Captain Alatriste would be a safe bet. This first book is simply named after the main character of this series set in 17th century Spain: El Capitán Alatriste. I have a weak spot for both historical fiction and books set in one of my favorite countries, Spain, so I thought I would really enjoy this one. Unfortunately, things turned out to be different. I know Spanish isn't my native language, but I both have a degree in Spanish Philology and have been using Spanish daily for years, so I can confirm the language itself wasn't a barrier. What did slow me down considerably is the general tone and pace of the story, and the fact that nothing much happened during the story. Not only was the historical setting quite weak and could have been elaborated a lot more, but I also found the way the story was told through someone close to Alatriste not entertaining at all. This probably has a lot to do with the writing as well as the lack of a proper plot and more action... I did appreciate the incorporation of old Spanish literature in the text. But still, I definitely won't be continuing this series any time soon. (hide spoiler)] P.S. Find more of my reviews here.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara M

    This was uneven for me, it took some doing at first to go on but it ended up pretty enjoyable. The story is told through the eyes and memory of Inigo Balboa. Inigo was the son of one of the Captain's fellow soldiers and friend during the Flemish wars in the time of Philip III. He is able to join the Captain as something like a medieval page. Captain Alatriste is forced to use his sword to make a living -he is hired out to solve problems for those able to pay. It's a rather dangerous way to earn a This was uneven for me, it took some doing at first to go on but it ended up pretty enjoyable. The story is told through the eyes and memory of Inigo Balboa. Inigo was the son of one of the Captain's fellow soldiers and friend during the Flemish wars in the time of Philip III. He is able to join the Captain as something like a medieval page. Captain Alatriste is forced to use his sword to make a living -he is hired out to solve problems for those able to pay. It's a rather dangerous way to earn a living. He's not a particularly friendly person, humorous, or out-going. Although there is some humor that is not intentional by the character. He lives on the edge and that adds the tension necessary for the story. Plus there are the sword fights which are pretty well described. Inigo is obviously telling this story from some distant time in the future. There are quite a few times when he points out the uniqueness of Spain, it's monarchs, and it's people's attitudes; providing a lot of insight into Spain and its history under Philip IV. It seemed a time when life was not valued. People were put to death with little thought! Those who were an inconvenience were simply killed! A good story but I'm not sure I'll continue the series. However, I won't avoid it if I find it in my "book bag."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jack Massa

    Enjoyable if rather slow and melancholy historical adventure. Set in Madrid in the 1600s, with Spain still ruler of a world Empire and still in the grip of the Inquisition, but decadent and slowly loosing power. The hero is an out-of-work solider, a war hero who must earn his living as a hired sword. What action there is centers around interesting political intrigue and exciting sword fights. But what action there is interrupted (alas) by longwinded scenes of men talking in taverns and drunkenly Enjoyable if rather slow and melancholy historical adventure. Set in Madrid in the 1600s, with Spain still ruler of a world Empire and still in the grip of the Inquisition, but decadent and slowly loosing power. The hero is an out-of-work solider, a war hero who must earn his living as a hired sword. What action there is centers around interesting political intrigue and exciting sword fights. But what action there is interrupted (alas) by longwinded scenes of men talking in taverns and drunkenly bemoaning the dismal state of their world. The plot and intrigues deliberately mirror The Three Musketeers (even to the point of a visit by a somewhat younger Duke of Buckingham triggering the action). What's missing (alas) is the exuberance and joi de vivre of D'Artangan and his crew: maudlin Spaniards in place of dashing Frenchmen. I also found the first-person point-of-view a problem. Because, uh, it's only sometimes first person. The story is told by the hero's squire, and his hero worship tempered with keen obeservation of character is one of the highlights of the book. He comes across as somewhat more down-to-earth than his idealistic master, and there is nice subtle flavor of Sancho Panza playing to Alatriste's Don Quixote. Unfortuneately, in half the book the narrator himself is not present, and we flop, without explanation, into a third-person point-of-view focused on Alatriste. Technically troubling, but maybe that's just me. It's interesting to compare this novel to other popular historical adventures of recent years: the series by Bernard Cornwall or Wilbur Smith's Egyptian books. Those are mostly all action, bluster and thunder, with just enough character to fill-out the costumes and carry the swords. Perez-Reverte's focus on interior life and complex emotion gives us much more lifelike and likeable characters, but the action (alas) trundles along too slowly, when it moves at all . The sweet spot for this reader is somewhere between these extremes. At a mere 250 pages, I found Captain Alatriste a slow read, and was left feeling a lot more should have happened. But I guess all that was saved for the sequels.

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