by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Category: Fiction / Historical
272 pages; ISBN: 039915275X
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Putnam, May 2005, $23.95 272 pp.
The invincible Armada has recently lost and Spain is in upheaval from the shocker. Meanwhile former Spanish Captain Diego Alatriste returns home to Madrid because war injuries make the life of a soldier impossible to continue. Still he is a renowned swordsman so the President of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition Fray Emilio Bocanegra hires him and an Italian assassin who normally works for the King’s Secretary Gualterio Malatesta to allegedly frighten two Englishmen who have come to Madrid.
Gualterio is irate because Diego confronts the two visitors giving them a chance to defend themselves; Gualterio prefers to kill from behind as a frontal fight frightens him. When the two Brits put up a strong defense, Diego, adhering to his mission, prevents Gualterio from killing them. However, by doing so he now has a deadly livid enemy who will patiently wait for the moment to strike him down from behind. Diego assists the English on their mission by keeping them safe, but also finds he is caught in the middle of disputing factions blaming one another for the Armada debacle.
CAPTAIN ALASTRISTE is such a superb seventeenth century swashbuckler that any moment this reviewer expected Errol Flynn to show up. The story line is fast-paced, filled with non stop action, and the fully developed cast provides a deep look at Spain still reeling from the Amada catastrophe. It is that latter element that refreshes the sword swinging tale as readers will appreciate how deep a cut the impact that disaster had on the country and to a lesser degree through the two visitors on England. Arturo Pérez-Reverte writes a strong historical novel.
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