Excerpt from Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Captain Alatriste

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Captain Alatriste
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2005, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2005, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Do not fuck with me, don Francisco," the captain replied ill-humoredly. "We will have our fight with whom we must, but do not fuck with me."

"That is how a true, hic, man talks," said the poet, visibly grateful for the friend who had just sworn his support. The rest of the gatherers unanimously urged him on, like Dómine Pérez, abandoning any conciliatory efforts and in truth delightedly anticipating the spectacle. For if don Francisco de Quevedo, particularly in his cups, turned out to be a terrible swordsman, the intervention of Diego Alatriste as his partner at the ball left no shred of doubt regarding the results. Bets flew about the number of thrusts the strangers would pay for.

So. The captain gulped a swallow of wine and, already on his feet, looked over toward the strangers as if to apologize that things had gone so far. He motioned with his head for them to step outside, in order not to destroy the tavern of Caridad la Lebrijana, who was always fretting about the furniture.

"Whenever Your Mercies please."

The men buckled on their weapons and started outside amid high expectation, taking care not to leave their backs unguarded—just in case—for Jesus may have said something about brothers, but he made no mention of cousins. That was the situation, with all swords still sheathed, when, to the disappointment of the onlookers and relief of Diego Alatriste, the unmistakable silhouette of the high constable, Martín Saldaña, appeared in the doorway.

"That throws the blanket over our fiesta," said don Francisco de Quevedo.

And shrugging, he adjusted his eyeglasses, glanced out of the corner of his eye, went back to his table, and uncorked another bottle, with no further ado.

"I have a mission for you."

The high constable, Martín Saldaña, was hard and tan as a brick. Over his doublet, he wore an old-fashioned buffcoat, quilted inside, that was very practical in warding off knives. With his sword, dagger, poniard, and pistols, he carried more iron than was to be found in all Biscay. He had been a soldier in the Flemish wars, like Diego Alatriste and my deceased father, and in close camaraderie with them had spent long years of pain and worry, although in the end with better fortune. While my progenitor pushed up daisies in a land of heretics, and the captain earned his living as a hired swordsman, Saldaña made his way in Madrid upon his discharge in Flanders—after our deceased king, Philip the Third, signed a treaty with the Dutch—with the help of a brother-in-law who was a majordomo in the palace, and a mature but still-beautiful wife. I cannot prove the story of the wife—I was too young to know the details—but there were rumors that a certain magistrate was free to have his way with the aforementioned señora, and that that was the reason for her husband's being appointed high constable, a position equal to that of the night watchmen who made their rounds in the barrios of Madrid, which at that time were still called cuarteles.

In any case, no one ever dared make the least insinuation in Martín Saldaña's presence. Cuckolded or not, there was no doubt was that he was brave, albeit very thin-skinned. He had been a good soldier; his many wounds had been stitched up like a crazy quilt, and he knew how to command respect with his fists or with a Toledo sword. He was, in fact, as honorable as could be expected in a high constable of the time. He, too, admired Diego Alatriste, and he tried to favor him whenever possible. Theirs was an old professional friendship—rough, as befitting men of their nature—but real and sincere.

From Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Copyright 1996 by Arturo Perez-Reverte. All rights reserved. Excerpt reproduced with the permission of the Putnam Publishing.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...
  • Book Jacket: Night of the Animals
    Night of the Animals
    by Bill Broun
    Debut novelist Bill Broun is a gentle, exquisite literary surgeon. His protagonist, 90-year-old ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.