The Painter of Battles: Book summary and reviews of The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Painter of Battles

A Novel

By Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Painter of Battles
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2008,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

Andrés Faulques, a world-renowned war photographer, has retired to a life of solitude on the Spanish coast. On the walls of a tower overlooking the sea, he spends his days painting a huge mural that pays homage to history’s classic works of war art and that incorporates a lifetime of disturbing images.

One night, an unexpected visitor arrives at Faulques’ door and challenges the painter to remember him. As Faulques struggles to recall the face, the man explains that he was the subject of an iconic photo taken by Faulques in a war zone years ago. “And why have you come looking for me?” asks Faulques. The stranger answers, “Because I’m going to kill you.”

This story transports Faulques to the time when he crossed continents to capture conflicts on film with his lover, Olvido, at his side. Until she walked into his life, Faulques muses, he had believed he would survive both war and women.

As the tense dialogue between Faulques and his visitor continues, the stakes grow ever higher. What they are grappling with quickly proves to be not just Faulques’ fate but the very nature of human love and cruelty itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Pérez-Reverte - the author of some delicious novels constructed around enigmas in chess or painting, and the series of elegant swashbucklers starring Captain Alatriste - is composing in a more minor and less ludic key .... The Painter of Battles is a strange book, much of its material shoehorned cornily into its flashbacks, its central dialogue straining under the moral weight placed upon it; it's a messy clash between showing and telling. And yet in a way it also becomes the mural of which it tells, drawing a perfectly obsessive, claustrophobic panorama. Few novels display such intensely marshalled powers of extended visual evocation." - The Guardian (UK).

"Perez-Reverte is a best-selling author in his native Spain: previously a war correspondent, his experiences show through in the gritty realism of the war scenes he portrays. With translated works it's not possible to gauge the quality of the author's prose, but Peden's translation reveals memorable passages." - The New Zealand Herald.

"For all of us. Pérez-Reverte is an accomplished writer. This is his best book yet, and the best thing I have read all year." - The Times (UK).

"Starred Review. Faulques rigidly adheres to the notion of a universe run mechanically by rules beyond our control, and the narrative's tension derives partly from wondering whether Faulques will ultimately retain these beliefs. With extraordinary imagery; highly recommended." - Library Journal.

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Author Information

Arturo Perez-Reverte Author Biography

Arturo Pérez-Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war journalist, he now writes fiction full-time. He is the author of twelve novels, including The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion, The Queen of the South, Captain Alatriste and Pirates of the Levant. His works have been translated into twenty-eight languages and published in fifty countries. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.

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