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Purity of Blood

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The second swashbuckling adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series Captain Alatriste, Madrid’s most charismatic swashbuckler, returns in Perez-Reverte’s acclaimed international bestseller. The fearless Alatriste is hired to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young girl forced to serve as a powerful priest’s concubine. The girl’s father is barred fr The second swashbuckling adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series Captain Alatriste, Madrid’s most charismatic swashbuckler, returns in Perez-Reverte’s acclaimed international bestseller. The fearless Alatriste is hired to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young girl forced to serve as a powerful priest’s concubine. The girl’s father is barred from legal recourse as the priest threatens to reveal that the man’s family is “not of pure blood” and is, in fact, of Jewish descent—which will all but destroy the family name. As Alatriste struggles to save the young hostage from being burned at the stake, he soon finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that leads all the way to the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. A literary thriller that delivers adventure and rich historical detail, Purity of Blood captivates to the final page.


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The second swashbuckling adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series Captain Alatriste, Madrid’s most charismatic swashbuckler, returns in Perez-Reverte’s acclaimed international bestseller. The fearless Alatriste is hired to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young girl forced to serve as a powerful priest’s concubine. The girl’s father is barred fr The second swashbuckling adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series Captain Alatriste, Madrid’s most charismatic swashbuckler, returns in Perez-Reverte’s acclaimed international bestseller. The fearless Alatriste is hired to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young girl forced to serve as a powerful priest’s concubine. The girl’s father is barred from legal recourse as the priest threatens to reveal that the man’s family is “not of pure blood” and is, in fact, of Jewish descent—which will all but destroy the family name. As Alatriste struggles to save the young hostage from being burned at the stake, he soon finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that leads all the way to the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. A literary thriller that delivers adventure and rich historical detail, Purity of Blood captivates to the final page.

30 review for Purity of Blood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    3.5 stars I have to admit to having been disappointed by the eponymous first book in Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s ‘Captain Alatriste’ series of swashbuckling romances. It may have been due to unfair, or incorrect, expectations, but I remember being fairly nonplussed by my reaction. I love me a good swashbuckler, but despite this fact I have to admit that I find myself disappointed more often than not in the ones I pick up. Sabatini has one truly great entry in the genre that I have read (the superlativ 3.5 stars I have to admit to having been disappointed by the eponymous first book in Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s ‘Captain Alatriste’ series of swashbuckling romances. It may have been due to unfair, or incorrect, expectations, but I remember being fairly nonplussed by my reaction. I love me a good swashbuckler, but despite this fact I have to admit that I find myself disappointed more often than not in the ones I pick up. Sabatini has one truly great entry in the genre that I have read (the superlative Scaramouche), but I have found myself distinctly underwhelmed by every other book by him that I have taken up…much to my chagrin. Doyle's 'Brigadier Gerard' stories are wonderful, but they are as much comedies as they are swashbucklers. I venerate Dumas père, but must admit that even his voluminous output has its ups and downs and contrary to popular belief I don’t think that most of his works should really be classified as true swashbucklers (though historical romance is such a close kissing cousin that they really ought to just get a room already). It was, therefore, with some trepidation that I took up volume two in the Alatriste series, _The Purity of Blood_. The meat of the story revolves around the titular ‘purity of blood’ that one must be able to prove (especially if you happen to have any Jewish descent in your family tree) in order to be considered an ‘Old Christian’ and the trouble (that’s putting it mildly) encountered by those conversos unable to do so to the satisfaction of the authorities, especially the infamous Inquisition. Alatriste and Íñigo get pulled into a plot that seems to be merely a family affair to begin with, until it becomes apparent that there are tendrils spilling out from it into much higher levels of society. Buckles are swashed, secrets revealed, and danger & death are always waiting in the wings. Through all of this Pérez-Reverte is able to bring into a swashbuckling adventure ruminations on the decay and hypocrisy inherent in the Spain of the ‘Golden Age’; a golden age that, not surprisingly, leaves quite a bit to be desired and, when seen face on, is neither better nor worse than any of mankind’s other blunders throughout history. I will admit to once again feeling more or less indifferent for much of the novel. All in all it was fairly good...an intriguing mystery setting things up on the first page and a fast paced adventure that was out of the gate with little to no preamble, but I was still not sufficiently grabbed by the adventure to feel myself sucked into the world Pérez-Reverte was creating. I know he’s capable of this as he’s done it to perfection for me in the more slower paced The Fencing Master and the intriguing occult-literary mystery The Club Dumas, but so far in his pure swashbucklers I am not always fully engaged. There were moments though. The conceit of the book is that it is a first person memoir being told by Íñigo Balboa, Alatriste’s ward and companion ever since the boy’s father, an old soldier buddy of Alatriste’s, died in the latter’s arms and asked him to care for his son (more on this anon). This conceit allows us to enter into Íñigo’s mind as his remembrances of his youth take on the bitter-sweet savour of a man looking back on his halcyon days from the vantage of old age. Two moments here struck me as particularly moving. In the first Íñigo recalls the vision of Angélica de Alquézar, the great love of his life; a love that is not without its own ambivalent qualities: At times, when memories seem so sweet that I long even for old enemies, I go and stand before the portrait Diego Velázquez painted of her, and stay for hours looking at her in silence, painfully aware that I never truly knew her. But along with the scars that she inflicted, my old heart still holds the conviction that that girl, that woman who inflicted upon me every evil she was capable of, also, in her way, loved me till the day she died. The second was in a moment of truth for Íñigo in which his mettle and devotion to his master are tested. In this moment he finds “…that there are some things no man can tolerate though it cost him his life or, precisely, because that life would not be worth living if he yielded.” I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that Íñigo proves himself worthy of the Captain’s respect and devotion. Despite these moments that allow Pérez-Reverte’s novel to be tinged with that golden glow of memory so often ascribed to the ‘Golden Age of Spain’ in which these adventures take place, the memoir format is not without its complications. The fact of the matter is that Íñigo spends a large portion of his time separated from the Captain (no need to go into details here, that really would be a spoiler) and yet we still get whole chapters told from the perspective of Alatriste without losing the assumption that ultimately it’s all coming from Íñigo’s mouth (or pen). I’m not normally a stickler for the whole “what is the conceit of how we received this narrative” thing (though it is becoming something I think about more) and usually just go with the flow, but it did grate a bit here for me. I can’t believe that the laconic Alatriste told Íñigo anything but the barest details of what he did while they were separated, yet we still get a view into not only Alatriste’s actions, but his thoughts and words as well (not to mention those of the various friends and enemies with whom he interacts). I liked those chapters just fine as third person narrative, but they didn’t really work for me as parts of Íñigo’s memoirs. That quibble aside I found that as the book neared its conclusion I was warming up to it much more than my experience in the first half would have suggested. I would still say, though, that this is in some ways a book that works less as a thoroughly rousing adventure in and of itself, but is rather a further set up for the long term adventures of Alatriste and Íñigo, especially in regards to the relationships they have both with each other and with those who will prove to be the greatest thorns in their sides. Alatriste has a great moment at the end of the book with his nemesis, the thoroughly evil (yet still interestingly complex) swordsman and assassin Gualterio Malatesta, while the aforementioned reasons for the complex feelings of Íñigo for the lovely and deadly Angélica de Alquézar get some page time as she is shown to play a small, though key, role in the stratagem that nearly proves to be the end of our two heroes. All in all I wasn’t completely swept away by this story, but it planted enough seeds that promise potential greatness that I am committed to following along with the adventures these two motley heroes for at least a little while more. I hope Pérez-Reverte proves to live up to the promise.

  2. 4 out of 5

    BAM the enigma “Ask me if you need help with a book”

    "But that is the way of life, and that was but one of the first times...that I was taught a useful lesson about how appearances trump truth, and how villains hide their vices behind masks of piety, honor, and decency." Priests are using their position of authority to influence novices at a convent in Spain. Captain Alitriste is hired by a father and his sons to rescue his daughter from a particular chaplain's heinous clutches. Instead the story mutates into a mission to save Alitriste's ward from "But that is the way of life, and that was but one of the first times...that I was taught a useful lesson about how appearances trump truth, and how villains hide their vices behind masks of piety, honor, and decency." Priests are using their position of authority to influence novices at a convent in Spain. Captain Alitriste is hired by a father and his sons to rescue his daughter from a particular chaplain's heinous clutches. Instead the story mutates into a mission to save Alitriste's ward from the Inquisition. Although the book easily met its stride, I never felt it met its potential. The book was much too short for my tastes. This is one of my favorite authors, and he could have developed a top tale with this one. Except when the problem with the nunnery is discussed at the beginning, it's never spoken of again. This topic was a treasure trove of ideas just waiting to happen. Also there is only one sword fight of note. As an outline or rough draft, this was a great book. I just wish Perez-Reverte had done more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jay “Waiting for the Apocalypse”

    Good story. Will the young Inigo Balboa escape the clutches of the Inquisition? You'll just have to read it and find out. Interesting and informative from a historical perspective. Among other things, it prompted me to research the Spanish military term "tercio", its size (usually 3,000 men, similar in size and internal organization to a Roman legion) and to dig deeper and learn more about the dreaded auto-da-fe used by the Inquisition. I'm not certain whether Perez-Reverte intended his story, a Good story. Will the young Inigo Balboa escape the clutches of the Inquisition? You'll just have to read it and find out. Interesting and informative from a historical perspective. Among other things, it prompted me to research the Spanish military term "tercio", its size (usually 3,000 men, similar in size and internal organization to a Roman legion) and to dig deeper and learn more about the dreaded auto-da-fe used by the Inquisition. I'm not certain whether Perez-Reverte intended his story, and the episodes within it concerning the Inquisition, especially their questioning tactics, as a commentary on our prisons at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but the similarities were striking and disturbing. The Captain Alatriste stories (the two I have read so far) remind me of a cross (no, not that kind of cross) between Zorro and the Three Musketeers - all of whom, by the way are, worthy of literary and personal emulation. Looking forward to the Captain's next adventure. Y cualquier amigo del Zorro es un amigo mío!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vaso

    well, I couldn't resist myself and read the second book in Captain Alatriste's series, the very next week it was published, and I liked it!!! well, I couldn't resist myself and read the second book in Captain Alatriste's series, the very next week it was published, and I liked it!!!

  5. 5 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zdravko

    In prose, this book is similar to the first (Reverte’s prose is great as I mentioned in the review of the first book). Somehow, the plot is a bit disappointing. All the enigmatic characters are present but, I don’t know, I feel like something is missing. It's still a quick, good read and a series that I will definitely continue with. In the end, one memorable line: “Never trust a man who reads only one book.” In prose, this book is similar to the first (Reverte’s prose is great as I mentioned in the review of the first book). Somehow, the plot is a bit disappointing. All the enigmatic characters are present but, I don’t know, I feel like something is missing. It's still a quick, good read and a series that I will definitely continue with. In the end, one memorable line: “Never trust a man who reads only one book.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisabet Sarai

    Perez-Reverte is such a fabulous author. He can turn a swashbuckling tale of mercenaries and Inquisitors in Spain's Golden Age into a true work of art. Thoughtful, evocative, disturbing, and brilliant. I wish I had enough Spanish to read him in the original, given how his prose shines in translation. Perez-Reverte is such a fabulous author. He can turn a swashbuckling tale of mercenaries and Inquisitors in Spain's Golden Age into a true work of art. Thoughtful, evocative, disturbing, and brilliant. I wish I had enough Spanish to read him in the original, given how his prose shines in translation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Perez-Reverte wrote many of the Captain Alatriste novels before he became widely read in English. His other books, "The Queen of the South" in particular, are, to my mind, much better written. The Alatriste series of books are just now being translated, I suspect because of the success of his other efforts. This volume recreates, not only the atmosphere but also the rhythm of the stylized discourse of the time, early 17th century Spain. I congratulate the translator for doing a great job, not onl Perez-Reverte wrote many of the Captain Alatriste novels before he became widely read in English. His other books, "The Queen of the South" in particular, are, to my mind, much better written. The Alatriste series of books are just now being translated, I suspect because of the success of his other efforts. This volume recreates, not only the atmosphere but also the rhythm of the stylized discourse of the time, early 17th century Spain. I congratulate the translator for doing a great job, not only with the dialogue but also with the poetry which is scattered through the book. It seems clear to me that Perez-Reverte has a good feel for the period about which he is writing and has captured well the corruption, hypocrisy, and mis-placed chivalry of the time. Spain is declining and those who rule her are venal and self-serving at best, yet the Captain and his friends continue to behave consistent with their code of honor. Alatriste may be a sword for hire but he is a sword for hire with a conscience. The description of the Inquisition is illuminating and most likely doesn't do justice to the horrors that were visited on the poor souls caught up in its tentacles. Just having an ancestor who was Jewish was enough to send one to be burned at the stake after being tortured into confessing whatever the torturers wished one to confess. All done in the name of protecting the one true faith. Reminds me a little of the insistence by many Americans that being publicly patriotic is an absolute necessity for our politicians if they want to be elected. The inquisition helped lose Spain its preeminence. Might unquestioning patriotism and the Department of Homeland Security do the same for the U.S.? While the story has its share of action, swordplay, conspiracy and courage, it is Inigo, Alatriste's adopted charge, relating his struggles as a prisoner of the inquisition that I most recall. Perez-Reverte is unremitting in his exposure of how bad life in Spain was, for all but a few, at this point in time. I recommend both the Alatriste books and his other efforts. I have never been disappointed with one of his novels.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A well-told tale of heroism and pride. I like the fact that this author has found a new niche in historical fiction in Counter-Reformation Spain (roughly contemporary with Dumas' Musketeers) and I enjoy his writing style, which I wasn't sure about at first, but which grew on me (and I have found myself exclaiming "S'blood!" in the past day or so). Like Dumas, he enjoys linking his fiction to real figures from history and weaving in snatches of poetry and references to various artists, poets and A well-told tale of heroism and pride. I like the fact that this author has found a new niche in historical fiction in Counter-Reformation Spain (roughly contemporary with Dumas' Musketeers) and I enjoy his writing style, which I wasn't sure about at first, but which grew on me (and I have found myself exclaiming "S'blood!" in the past day or so). Like Dumas, he enjoys linking his fiction to real figures from history and weaving in snatches of poetry and references to various artists, poets and playwrights of the day, so it's a good way in for people who find history can be a rather dry subject. I must confess to a certain ambivalence about the fact that the chief villains of the piece are Dominican friars and the Spanish Inquisition. Despite the popular mythology that such people revelled in torturing lies out of people, the historical evidence of this period suggests that it was a far more complex picture, and that it was often the Church that sought to curb the excesses of the state and the mob. More than once churches are referred to in this book as places of sanctuary, and that was chiefly to give everyone the chance to cool off and consider what they intended to do. But we are living in a time where the idea of religious fanaticism is regarded with particular suspicion, and so it is natural that these provide the foil for the heroes we are presently creating. Captain Alatriste I'm not entirely sure in what order these books are meant to be read, or were written. I had thought this was the third, but it referes to The Sun over Breda in the future tense. In fact it hasn't mattered greatly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    Solid prose with just the right amount of swagger and poetry, a bit thin on the plot, but with enough swirling capes and flashing daggers (plus a riveting account of an Inquisition auto-da-fe from the victim’s p.o.v.) to provide the requisite chills and thrills ala Dumas, pere. The swashbuckling adventure is set in Perez-Reverte’s version of Spain’s 17th century golden age, when it had “Europe and the world by their tender testicles.” A Spain that boasted Cervantes and Velazquez among its citize Solid prose with just the right amount of swagger and poetry, a bit thin on the plot, but with enough swirling capes and flashing daggers (plus a riveting account of an Inquisition auto-da-fe from the victim’s p.o.v.) to provide the requisite chills and thrills ala Dumas, pere. The swashbuckling adventure is set in Perez-Reverte’s version of Spain’s 17th century golden age, when it had “Europe and the world by their tender testicles.” A Spain that boasted Cervantes and Velazquez among its citizens, but also hosted the Holy Inquisition and its egregious abuses. There are other historical characters and references, which full significance would go over the head of those who are not intimately familiar with Spanish history of this period --- mi, por ejemplo --- but the novel manages to be both entertaining and passionately informative about its subject, and that’s enough to make this a fast and interesting read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I enjoyed the first book in this series, Captain Alatriste, which was only the prologue for this series. Here, in "Purity of Blood" we are introduced to a few more characters and we have a rip-roaring "will the boy be saved" plot line while a number of "revenge" issues/explanations are on their way. I'd say this is "Monte Cristo Lite". I already have the third in this series here at home on my to read shelf! I enjoyed the first book in this series, Captain Alatriste, which was only the prologue for this series. Here, in "Purity of Blood" we are introduced to a few more characters and we have a rip-roaring "will the boy be saved" plot line while a number of "revenge" issues/explanations are on their way. I'd say this is "Monte Cristo Lite". I already have the third in this series here at home on my to read shelf!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike Futcher

    Much of the appeal of the first Captain Alatriste book came from the fact it was throwback romantic adventure of the Alexandre Dumas mould, but Purity of Blood, the second book in the series, sees author Arturo Pérez-Reverte alter this winsome formula, with mixed results. Purity of Blood is rather darker, with its title and plot inspired by the persecution of Jews in the 17th-century Catholic Spain where the book is set. Anti-Semitism, mob hatred and the sadistic torture of the Inquisition are t Much of the appeal of the first Captain Alatriste book came from the fact it was throwback romantic adventure of the Alexandre Dumas mould, but Purity of Blood, the second book in the series, sees author Arturo Pérez-Reverte alter this winsome formula, with mixed results. Purity of Blood is rather darker, with its title and plot inspired by the persecution of Jews in the 17th-century Catholic Spain where the book is set. Anti-Semitism, mob hatred and the sadistic torture of the Inquisition are the dominant aspects of this Alatriste sequel. It still works well enough, with Pérez-Reverte's quality of prose a high point of the book. The main characters remain interesting – though they scarcely develop – and the book improves as it progresses. The problem is that it doesn't align with that romantic adventure ethos that is the great charm of the series. The anti-Semitism and torture and public burnings are unpleasant to read, and while this serves the author's intention to educate us that this Golden Age of Spain was often "a venal world built upon hypocrisy and spurious manners" (pg. 241), it is fatal in that it spikes any triumph our characters might achieve in the plot. I felt that our hero, Alatriste, lost this battle. The good guys are thoroughly and painfully defeated, and the one bad guy to get his comeuppance gets it almost perfunctorily, in the epilogue. When this is added to other about-turns in the plot, the lack of tension, and the narrator Íñigo's constant adoration over Angélica de Alquézar (who, with his full knowledge, tries to have him killed and tortured), one easily tires of Purity of Blood, and finds it a bit untidy. It's not enough to make the reader seek to wound the story, but it does give a worrying suggestion that this series may in the end not prove as good as it could be.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Cantor

    I found this a disappointing swashbuckling adventure. The book is written in the first person with the narrator narrating in detail the movements of his potential rescuer. The problem with this is that the voice traps the story either in descriptive "tell" mode, or when "showing" it has major credibility problems. Harmless fun though. I found this a disappointing swashbuckling adventure. The book is written in the first person with the narrator narrating in detail the movements of his potential rescuer. The problem with this is that the voice traps the story either in descriptive "tell" mode, or when "showing" it has major credibility problems. Harmless fun though.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Isi

    Review in Spanish Review in English En este episodio Alatriste está pensando en salir de Madrid y volver a servir en los ejércitos de Su Majestad, llevándose con él a Íñigo, nuestro joven narrador. Pero los planes se trastocan cuando don Francisco de Quevedo le pide ayuda para solventar un lance en beneficio de un amigo del poeta: su hija es una novicia y parece ser que en el convento, el capellán intima demasiado con las monjas, así que planean sacarla de allí a golpe de acero, con tal mala suert Review in Spanish Review in English En este episodio Alatriste está pensando en salir de Madrid y volver a servir en los ejércitos de Su Majestad, llevándose con él a Íñigo, nuestro joven narrador. Pero los planes se trastocan cuando don Francisco de Quevedo le pide ayuda para solventar un lance en beneficio de un amigo del poeta: su hija es una novicia y parece ser que en el convento, el capellán intima demasiado con las monjas, así que planean sacarla de allí a golpe de acero, con tal mala suerte de que Íñigo es capturado por Gualterio Malatesta, que en este capítulo ha resultado trabajar para el Santo Oficio. A pesar de que Íñigo nos está contando la historia cuando ya es adulto y que sabemos conocemos incluso la batalla en la que morirá Alatriste (en Rocroi), al lector le espera otra aventura emocionante, esta vez temiendo por el pellejo del joven escudero, que a sus trece años se ve torturado por los guardianes de la fe, a los que incluso los poderosos temían. Eso sí, el chaval no soltará prenda. Pasaremos unas horas entre hogueras con herejes chamuscados y sobornos para tener un certificado impecable de cristiano viejo, que parecían ser el día a día en aquel imperio que, cada día que pasa, se hace más miserable. Mención especial para Malatesta; el villano, antihéroe que en realidad no es más que el espejo en el que Diego Alatriste queda reflejado, aunque no en su totalidad, porque a pesar de todo, su código de honor se rige por reglas distintas. -Os agradecería mucho -sugirió- que intentaseis agarrar la pistola, o esa espada. Parece que por ahora nos despediremos de Madrid para marchar con destino a Flandes, y estoy deseando acompañar al capitán. *************** This is the second book in Alatriste series, perfect to attend the decay of the biggest Empire in the world (Spain, of course) hand in hand with our captain Alatriste, who is hesitating in this book whether or not re-join the army, this time with his young squire, Íñigo. Before making a decision, don Francisco de Quevedo asks Alatriste for help in an affair: they want to rescue a nun, the daughter of an honourable gentleman, Quevedo’s friend, from a nunnery in which the chaplain seems not to obey his vow of celibacy correctly. But in the assault, it turns out that not only was the young girl waiting to be rescued, but also the Inquisition appeared in the nunnery, as well as the best villain ever, Gualterio Malatesta, to catch Alatriste and his friends. In the fight at night, they manage to capture Íñigo and lead him to the Inquisition prison in Toledo, were the possibilities after your confession were two: to burn on a bonfire, or to be hunged and then burned on a bonfire. In this part of the series Pérez-Reverte shows our lovely and morality-concerned Inquisition, that is able to torture a 13-year-old boy but not with torture implements, of course, until he is 14; and everything is because you have a surname which is suspected to be Jewish, or because you don’t seem to be an old Christian, which means that perhaps your great-grandparent was not a Christian, no matter if you go to a Catholic church every Sunday because you really believe in it. Even the most powerful people could do nothing against the Holy Office. I didn’t expect Íñigo to be the center of attention in this book, but he really is an interesting main character because he knows nobody can help him but nevertheless he doesn’t betray captain Alatriste and, to our relief, from the beginning of the series we know that Íñigo is telling us the whole story when he is an adult, later on. Just like the first book of the series, this has been a gripping story with an excellent narrative style, so if you are looking for a terrific cast of characters (real and imaginary ones), sword fights and the most evil villain ever, you won’t be disappointed with our captain Alatriste. See you in the next book in Flanders!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julia DeBarrioz

    I loved this from cover to cover, a great swashbuckling tale in the golden age of Spain. It certainly didn't go in the direction I expected to, taking darker twists and turns that really showed the rotten underbelly of all that glittered back in those days. Alatriste is a reluctant hero, but a real one. When in the first book I noticed his surname was Alatriste y Tenorio I thought nah, it can't be THAT Tenorio... but lol, yep, apparently he's related to The Don Juan in some capacity, so who coul I loved this from cover to cover, a great swashbuckling tale in the golden age of Spain. It certainly didn't go in the direction I expected to, taking darker twists and turns that really showed the rotten underbelly of all that glittered back in those days. Alatriste is a reluctant hero, but a real one. When in the first book I noticed his surname was Alatriste y Tenorio I thought nah, it can't be THAT Tenorio... but lol, yep, apparently he's related to The Don Juan in some capacity, so who could be a better choice to raid a convent that is guarded like a citadel? Who indeed...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    (view spoiler)[Well, I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition. (If nobody else will say it, then I shall.) (hide spoiler)] Whatever the proximity of these events to the Affair of the Two Englishmen, Íñigo Balboa's narration is taking on a harder edge. The wars are not going well, and Spain appears determined to shoot itself in the foot with grand displays of piety and style over practicality. In particular is the problem of "Purity of Blood" of the title: it is essential for the nobility to cov (view spoiler)[Well, I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition. (If nobody else will say it, then I shall.) (hide spoiler)] Whatever the proximity of these events to the Affair of the Two Englishmen, Íñigo Balboa's narration is taking on a harder edge. The wars are not going well, and Spain appears determined to shoot itself in the foot with grand displays of piety and style over practicality. In particular is the problem of "Purity of Blood" of the title: it is essential for the nobility to cover up the existence of generations-back Jewish branch of the family. The need for spiritual purity is so great that Jewish financiers in Portugal--or at least those unable to demonstrate pure Old Christian bloodlines--are hounded out of the country by the Inquisition, even if those financiers would offset the Genoese bankers endangering the country. The Spanish Empire is still Golden, but said gold is tinsel and brass, and hard times come. I found that I preferred those sections where Íñigo was not physically present (as difficult as it is to explain how he can still narrate it). His presence as narrator is more subtle, less prone to waxing philosophical or sentimental. Also, when he's not present, then something stupid is less likely to occur. I will have to ensure that he never acts like an ass in front of his obviously dangerous obsession, Angélica de Alquézar. Though, his behavior is very much like Spain in the grand sense.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Reiyana Beaudoin

    I should probably put a spoiler warning, but I also feel like spoiling the plot will save a lot of time for people who are intrigued by the book description. The book description says that Captain Alatriste & co are going to attempt to save the daughter of a wealthy family, from a convent with a corrupt priest. Well spoiler alert, that doesn't happen! They try to save her, but this little kid in the captain's party gets captured by the Inquisition, and they forget about the girl and spend the res I should probably put a spoiler warning, but I also feel like spoiling the plot will save a lot of time for people who are intrigued by the book description. The book description says that Captain Alatriste & co are going to attempt to save the daughter of a wealthy family, from a convent with a corrupt priest. Well spoiler alert, that doesn't happen! They try to save her, but this little kid in the captain's party gets captured by the Inquisition, and they forget about the girl and spend the rest of the book figuring out how they're gonna save him. At the end, the girl and the surviving members of her family are publicly executed, but the boy is saved just in the nick of time because one dude threatens to expose some corruption, in front of most of Spain including the Royal family? I read it at 2 AM so maybe I missed something crucial but it all happened very fast. Then Captain Alatriste & co are like "aw it's too bad we couldn't save her and her family. But hey at least we rescued Iñigo :)" like what??? Tney were supposed to save one person and instead most of the family ended up dead. what was the point of this plot then? What a waste of time. Thankfully it was a short book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Harden

    Calling one of Arturo Pérez Reverte's books "fun" or "interesting" completely misses the genius of this author. The action is, without a doubt, exciting. But a book that includes Francisco de Quevedo as one of the primary supporting characters, and that does so well, weaving his beliefs and his poetry into the action deserves to be considered on a much higher scale than the average book. Having a main character whose second last name is "Tenorio" and whose "uncle"'s exploits were immortalized by Calling one of Arturo Pérez Reverte's books "fun" or "interesting" completely misses the genius of this author. The action is, without a doubt, exciting. But a book that includes Francisco de Quevedo as one of the primary supporting characters, and that does so well, weaving his beliefs and his poetry into the action deserves to be considered on a much higher scale than the average book. Having a main character whose second last name is "Tenorio" and whose "uncle"'s exploits were immortalized by Tirso places this book well to the top of that higher scale. Having a young narrator who promises much more to come, not only about Captain Alatriste, but about his own exploits leaves you waiting for the next installments in the series, but always cognizant of the fact that although designed to resemble the Three Musketeers, this novel is much deeper and darker and so much more full of promise. And then, having caught all the cultural and historic references, you are left wondering which ones you did not catch, and you then must decide whether to go on to another in the series, or to reread this one in the hopes of picking up on more of them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    Arturo Perez-Reverte is a brilliant writer. I commented on his relaxed style when reviewing "Captain Alatriste"; how he makes you feel as if you're sat at a table in the Tavern of the Turk, dust motes glinting in the hot sunlight streaming through the window, the heady aroma of rich wine and the smell of sweat assaulting your nostrils, listening to Inigo Balboa tell his tale. At times he digresses, sometimes there is wit and humour... always he keeps you riveted. I read this book in a matter of h Arturo Perez-Reverte is a brilliant writer. I commented on his relaxed style when reviewing "Captain Alatriste"; how he makes you feel as if you're sat at a table in the Tavern of the Turk, dust motes glinting in the hot sunlight streaming through the window, the heady aroma of rich wine and the smell of sweat assaulting your nostrils, listening to Inigo Balboa tell his tale. At times he digresses, sometimes there is wit and humour... always he keeps you riveted. I read this book in a matter of hours. I could hardly put it down. The opening grips you like a rottweiler in a dark alley and the adventure unfolds in an almost casual way. A woman is found murdered in a sedan chair outside a church - there! Got the little nipper!! Diego Alatriste is asked to do a favour for his old friend, the poet, Quevedo. Young Inigo gets involved and in the warmth of a Spanish summer's night, as the moonlight glows off a nunnery wall, all hell breaks loose. Brilliant! You're kept on the edge of your seat throughout as the blades slash, cloth and flesh tear and the injustices pile up like faggots at an auto-da-fe!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Favorite new word from this novel: "desencuadernada" (the book without a binding), a euphemism for a deck of cards; ironically juxtaposed to the "men who read just one book" (the men of the Inquisition who constituted the novel's primary nemeses). Similar to the first, but darker. Which in a novel set in 1620s Spain means more realistic. When I say dark, there's nothing here that would shock a Harry Potter fan. That's impressive, considering that our narrator spends much of the novel a prisoner o Favorite new word from this novel: "desencuadernada" (the book without a binding), a euphemism for a deck of cards; ironically juxtaposed to the "men who read just one book" (the men of the Inquisition who constituted the novel's primary nemeses). Similar to the first, but darker. Which in a novel set in 1620s Spain means more realistic. When I say dark, there's nothing here that would shock a Harry Potter fan. That's impressive, considering that our narrator spends much of the novel a prisoner of the Inquisition. Perez-Reverte does let us wonder this time for most of the novel how in the world they could possibly get out of this one as various levels of authority fail them in utterly likely ways. And it casts a considerably more critical eye than in the first novel on the brew of iniquities that attend Spain's long decline in the 17th century (the monarchy, the Church and also the gullible Spanish people themselves). Nevertheless, it's a romantic adventure like the others. No need to worry all that much.

  21. 4 out of 5

    rinabeana

    Though the High Inquisitor was in the first book, the practices of the Spanish Inquisition were more clearly depicted in this story. Their tactics as described by poor Íñigo are utterly appalling. I also have to say that I liked Íñigo in the first book, but I grew even more enamored of him in this book, despite his helpless infatuation with Angelica de Alquezar. For a thirteen-year-old, he's certainly opinionated about the state of Spain and he uses very strong language. I love how Pérez-Reverte Though the High Inquisitor was in the first book, the practices of the Spanish Inquisition were more clearly depicted in this story. Their tactics as described by poor Íñigo are utterly appalling. I also have to say that I liked Íñigo in the first book, but I grew even more enamored of him in this book, despite his helpless infatuation with Angelica de Alquezar. For a thirteen-year-old, he's certainly opinionated about the state of Spain and he uses very strong language. I love how Pérez-Reverte has written the character. More of the character of Captain Alatriste is also revealed. He is largely an enigma to Íñigo and thus the reader, but his sense of duty (and even *gasp* affection) toward the boy is clearly evident, despite Íñigo's mistakes. The mystery surrounding Alatriste makes him all the more alluring. I very much enjoyed Purity of Blood and I'm looking forward to The Sun over Breda.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Lennon

    An intriguing plot line and some enigmatic characters make for an exciting story, set in Spain during the 1600s when the Inquisition and all manner of evil-doings, among rulers and opportunists, drove the culture. Once I got into the story-line, I was hooked. The struggle, for me, was that, as a translation loaded with references to people, places, and events of the time, keeping all the players and locations straight detracted from the flow and often my comprehension of what was going on. Once I An intriguing plot line and some enigmatic characters make for an exciting story, set in Spain during the 1600s when the Inquisition and all manner of evil-doings, among rulers and opportunists, drove the culture. Once I got into the story-line, I was hooked. The struggle, for me, was that, as a translation loaded with references to people, places, and events of the time, keeping all the players and locations straight detracted from the flow and often my comprehension of what was going on. Once I set aside the need to remember the particulars, I found the pace and intricacies of the tale informative and fun. The author spares no detail about the horrors of torture, executions, sadism, and ruthlessness of the times which is a reminder of how debased mankind has been throughout history. Greed and power are themes not to be missed here. But there is also the demonstration of courage, loyalty, and the pursuit of fairness and good, even when that is risky business.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    Captain Altratriste is a Spanish war veteran turned "blade for hire", always dueling, mostly silent, with powerful friends in the royal entourage but also powerful enemies in the Holy Inquisition. The plot was a little thin, but the characters are so incredibly wicked and literate. The story is told by Altatriste's young apprentice, an adolescent in love with a Spanish Lilith and already in the grips of the inquisitors. Of course, this all has to do with the Jews having converted to Catholicism Captain Altratriste is a Spanish war veteran turned "blade for hire", always dueling, mostly silent, with powerful friends in the royal entourage but also powerful enemies in the Holy Inquisition. The plot was a little thin, but the characters are so incredibly wicked and literate. The story is told by Altatriste's young apprentice, an adolescent in love with a Spanish Lilith and already in the grips of the inquisitors. Of course, this all has to do with the Jews having converted to Catholicism to avoid persecution. I cannot wait to read more of the good captains adventures and discover new characters (surely as most of the characters of this book do die...)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Bell

    If I could give a minus rating I would. Coming to this from a Sharpe/Aubry reading background I expected better. Alatriste has a pistol (never used) , stabs his enemies, is attacked by a woman (belt her in the mouth already!). Like Cornwall's Uthred novels organized religion has WAY TOO MUCH power and ,in Britain, the Spanish inquisition has Monty Python overtones. I hope it gets better (higher body count would help). If I could give a minus rating I would. Coming to this from a Sharpe/Aubry reading background I expected better. Alatriste has a pistol (never used) , stabs his enemies, is attacked by a woman (belt her in the mouth already!). Like Cornwall's Uthred novels organized religion has WAY TOO MUCH power and ,in Britain, the Spanish inquisition has Monty Python overtones. I hope it gets better (higher body count would help).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    This is the second in a series of books I have read by Arturo Perez-Reverte that feature Captain Alatriste, a 17th century Spanish soldier who lives as a swordman for hire. These books take place in Madrid and are very pleasant entertaining reads. For some reason the NY Times gives Perez-Reverte great reviews. A good airplane or train read but noting spectacular.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

    Another highly literary historical novel that continues the adventures of Captain Alatriste and his friends. I would say it is a series where it is important to read in order as events here follow on from Book 1, including the motives of the baddies.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark Valentine

    It is historical fiction with machismo and action but also with poetry and wisdom. The latter ingredients I use to justify the emotional and psychological thrill I get in the reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Noah Letner

    the sequel is almost as good as the first one

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pixton

    This was delightful. It had much of the dark stuff I love about European history, especially Spanish history. Dungeons, torture, intense executions, old monasteries, and so on. The Spanish Inquisition, essentially. So yeah, all the bloody and tragic stuff I'm not supposed to like. But it also glories in the good side of Spain, the literature and art that was birthed during this golden age, so I like that this purpose was fulfilled but while granting audience to Spain's atrocities as well. Instea This was delightful. It had much of the dark stuff I love about European history, especially Spanish history. Dungeons, torture, intense executions, old monasteries, and so on. The Spanish Inquisition, essentially. So yeah, all the bloody and tragic stuff I'm not supposed to like. But it also glories in the good side of Spain, the literature and art that was birthed during this golden age, so I like that this purpose was fulfilled but while granting audience to Spain's atrocities as well. Instead of sweeping them under the rug. I had to read this without having first read the first as my library didn't have an e-audiobook for the first. But I'd already seen the ridiculously long movie and thought this was a good start. Alatriste is a great character though I wonder if it wouldn't be better served having him as the POV? Maybe not, part of his allure is seeing this stoic person and wondering what's going on inside. Although I liked it, not much jumped out at me as amazing or grabbed me without letting go. I appreciated the audio, Simon Vance voice, getting the accent right, except for one occasion when he didn't. Someday, I'll be able to read this stuff in Spanish, the way it ought to be read. Frases: Desconfíen siempre vuestras mercedes de quien es lector de un solo libro. “Never trust a man who reads only one book.” El problema de las palabras es que, una vez echadas, no pueden volverse solas a su dueño. De modo que a veces te las vuelven en la punta de un acero. “...the problem with words is that once spoken, they cannot find their way back to the speaker alone.” “But one never knows how the dice will fall, and they are always cast before anyone even notices.” “No había piedad en ellos, ni siquiera esos ápices de humanidad que a veces uno vislumbra incluso en los más desalmados. Frailes, juez, escribano y verdugos se comportaban con una frialdad y un distanciamiento tan rigurosos que era precisamente lo que más pavor producía; más, incluso, que el sufrimiento que eran capaces de infligir: la helada determinación de quien se sabe respaldado por leyes divinas y humanas, y en ningún momento pone en duda la licitud de lo que hace. Después, con el tiempo, aprendí que, aunque todos los hombres somos capaces de lo bueno y de lo malo, los peores siempre son aquellos que, cuando administran el mal, lo hacen amparándose en la autoridad de otros, en la subordinación o en el pretexto de las órdenes recibidas. Y si terribles son quienes dicen actuar en nombre de una autoridad, una jerarquía o una patria, mucho peores son quienes se estiman justificados por cualquier dios. Puestos a elegir con quien habérselas a la hora, a veces insoslayable, de tratar con gente que hace el mal, preferí siempre a aquellos capaces de no acogerse más que a su propia responsabilidad. Porque en las cárceles secretas de Toledo pude aprender, casi a costa de mi vida, que nada hay más despreciable, ni peligroso, que un malvado que cada noche se va a dormir con la conciencia tranquila. Muy malo es eso. En especial, cuando viene parejo con la ignorancia, la superstición, la estupidez o el poder; que a menudo se dan juntos. Y aún resulta peor cuando se actúa como exégeta de una sola palabra, sea del Talmud, la Biblia, el Alcorán o cualquier otro escrito o por escribir. No soy amigo de dar consejos –a nadie lo acuchillan en cabeza ajena-, mas ahí va uno de barato: desconfíen siempre vuestras mercedes de quien es lector de un solo libro.” “No pudieron vencer a mis dolores las noches, ni dar paz a mis enojos...” “en un mundo venal, hecho de hipocresía y falsas maneras, los poderosos, los buitres carroñeros, los envidiosos, los cobardes y los canallas suelen encubrirse unos a otros. Dios nuestro señor los crió a todos, y éstos vinieron juntándose desde siempre, y bien a su gusto, en nuestra infeliz España.” “Por eso estaba callado y quieto, que era una forma tan buena como otra cualquiera de estar desesperado.” “No todos los pueblos son igual de razonables para elegir su conveniencia o su destiño, ni igual de cínicos para justificarse después ante la Historia o ante sí mismos. En cuanto a nosotros, fuimos hombres de nuestro siglo: no escogimos nacer y vivir en aquella España, a menudo miserable y a veces magnífica, que nos tocó en suerte; pero fue la nuestra.” “En la vida lo malo no es conocer, sino mostrar que se conoce." “cualquier hombre cabal puede escoger la forma y el lugar donde morir, pero nadie elige las cosas que recuerda.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim Hoag

    This is the third of the author's books I have read and the second in the Alatriste series. There is the stickiness of reality to them that I enjoy. I also enjoy the moody protagonist, Captain Alatriste, almost an antihero except for the glimpses of a moral streak. Yes, he's a bit of a stereotype—strong, silent, and deadly, but set against the 17th century Spanish Empire of constant war, deceit, and the Inquisition the character works very well. Pérez-Reverte sets the historical stage for the Ca This is the third of the author's books I have read and the second in the Alatriste series. There is the stickiness of reality to them that I enjoy. I also enjoy the moody protagonist, Captain Alatriste, almost an antihero except for the glimpses of a moral streak. Yes, he's a bit of a stereotype—strong, silent, and deadly, but set against the 17th century Spanish Empire of constant war, deceit, and the Inquisition the character works very well. Pérez-Reverte sets the historical stage for the Captain who has seen too much and killed too often. The moodiness of the character is in the atmosphere of the novel as well and I enjoy immersing myself in it. Mind you, it comes at a price. The sentence structure is sometimes difficult to wade through and not for all tastes: “Gallants lurked behind columns or beside the font to offer the ladies holy water; beggars sat on the steps outside the door, exhibiting their sores and pustules and the mutilations supposedly earned in Flanders, even Lepanto, and....” The sentence goes on for four more lines. But when there is action the descriptions and the characters become clear and vivid. The Fencing Master, an aging master facing a last fight, was my favorite book of Pérez-Reverte, but I'll be returning for more of the good Captain's bouts with life when I get the chance.

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