Midori Snyder did an excellent job at her site last week of summarizing the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Here's a bit of what she had to say:
It seems right on Veterans Day to review the swashbuckling and harrowing novels of the 17th century Spanish swordsman, veteran of the Thirty Years War, and sometime royal assassin, Captain Alatriste written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Pérez-Reverte deftly combines the heroic tale of a charismatic swordsman, a wry social history of a corrupt Spanish Empire, and a coming of age story for the novels' narrator, Iñgio Balboa, the orphaned son of a fallen soldier now apprentice to Alatriste as a page.
And what a figure Captain Alatriste cuts throughout these novels: tall and slim, wrapped in his cape, with a sword and long dagger at his side, his face shadowed by the broad brim of a felt hat, an aquiline nose, huge mustache, and blazing eyes. "He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous...It was one of Diego Alatriste's virtues that he could make friends in Hell," Iñgio tells us in the introduction. His title of Captain, more complimentary than official, was bestowed on him by the men who fought at his side one winter in Holland. His legendary skills with the sword have attracted the attention of the king, his scheming advisers, the Inquisition, and an Italian assassin with a score to settle.
Midori briefly reviewed each of the four books, starting with Captain Alatriste. If you've ever dreamed of taking wielding a rapier, these sound like must reads. (All Errol Flynn fans should clearly take special note.) (And if you're not a fan of Captain Blood then I pity you.)
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