Summary and book reviews of Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Captain Alatriste

By Arturo Perez-Reverte

Captain Alatriste
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  • Hardcover: May 2005,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Dec 2005,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

The first in a magnificent series of five historical novels from the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Club Dumas and The Queen of the South.

Captain Alatriste is the story of a fictional seventeenth-century Spanish soldier who, after being wounded in battle during the Thirty Years' War, is forced to retire from the army. Now he lives the comparatively tame - though hardly quiet - life of a swordsman-for-hire in Madrid. Approached with an offer of work, Alatriste is told to go with another hired blade to an unfamiliar part of the city at midnight and wait. They are received by men who explain that they want Alatriste and his companion to ambush two travelers the following evening, stage a robbery, and give the men a fright. "No blood," they are told.

But then a third figure enters the room. He says the job requires some clarification: he increases the pay, and tells them that, instead, they must murder the two travelers. Then he reveals his identity: Emilio Bocanegra. It is a name synonymous with the Spanish Inquisition, the bloodiest name in Europe. This is a man whose requests cannot be denied.

But the following night, with the attack imminent, it becomes clear to Alatriste that these aren't ordinary travelers. And what happens next is only the first in a series of riveting twists and turns, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe.

For anyone who loves the work of Arturo Pérez-Reverte-and those who have not yet discovered the delights of this extraordinary writer - Captain Alatriste is one of the most stylish, singular pleasures to come along in years.

First published in Spanish in 1996, published in English in 2005.

I. The Tavern of the Turk

He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous. His name was Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, and he had 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 maravedís 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 his life on a street corner lighted by the gleam of two blades.

In all this Diego Alatriste played his part with panache. He showed great skill when swords were...

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Reviews

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   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (366 words).

Media Reviews
Entertainment Weekly

The clash and dash are thrilling; the swordplay is a bonus.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

Equipped with a quick-witted, charismatic hero and much to provoke and goad him, Mr. Perez-Reverte has the makings of a flamboyantly entertaining series. Captain Alatriste ends with a wicked flourish, an evil laugh and a strong likelihood that the best is yet to come.

Publishers Weekly

Splendidly paced and filled with a breathtaking but not overwhelming sense of the history and spirit of the age, this is popular entertainment at its best: the characters have weight and depth, the dialogue illuminates the action as it furthers the story and the film-worthy plot is believable throughout.

Library Journal

That master of the international thriller here reinvents a hero of Spain's 16th-century imperial warfare. The basis of a forthcoming film starring Viggo Mortensen.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

From first word to last, this novel, sure to be a hit in this country as well, fairly drips adventure off every page.

Reader Reviews
S. McDougald

Quiet swashbuckler
Captain Alatriste is a mysterious figure who keeps to himself throughout the book. The narrator is also a thirteen-year-old boy, so it's realistic that he can't tell us everything about him. I also had a good sense of what it was like to live in ...   Read More

Kirconnell

Letdown?
I really wanted to like this book because I have loved all of Reverte's other works, but somehow it just didn't appeal to me like them. It didn't seem as if Captain Alatriste had the same flair and intrigue.. It is informative as all of Reverte's ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

For those who are interested in such things, from piecing together a few words from the author's website in Spanish it looks to me as if the original series order is:

1. El capitán Alatriste/Captain Alatriste
2. Limpieza de Sangre/The Purity of Blood (Jan 2006)
3. Patente de Corso/The Sign of The Marque*
4. El Sol de Breda/The Sun of Breda
5. El Oro del Rey/The Gold of the King*

The Purity of Blood
and The Sun of Breda are scheduled for publication in ...

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