Published by Penguin Group on 2005
Genres: Fiction, Historical
The novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte have captivated readers around the world and earned him a reputation as “the master of the intellectual thriller” (Chicago Tribune). His books have been published in fifty countries. Now, beginning with Captain Alatriste, comes Pérez-Reverte's most stunning creation to date: a riveting series featuring the adventures of an iconic hero. Captain Alatriste is the story of a fictional seventeenth-century Spanish soldier who lives as a swordsman-for-hire in Madrid. Needing gold to pay off his debts, Alatriste and another hired blade are paid to ambush two travelers, stage a robbery, and give the travelers a fright. “No blood,” they are told. Then a mysterious stranger enters to clarify the job: he increases the pay, and tells Alatriste that, instead, he must murder the two travelers. When the attack unfolds, Alatriste realizes that these aren't ordinary travelers, and what happens next is only the first in a riveting series of twists and turns, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe.
Another from my days of browsing the shelves of a used bookstore, Captain Alatriste tells the story of an ex-soldier mercenary in seventeenth century Spain. Translated from its original form of Spanish, Captain Alatriste tells the story of its title character through the eyes of his protégé and of the state of Spain through snippets of action and pieces of literature.
I didn’t enjoy this book though. I was under the impression that I was in for some swashbuckling tale and high adventure. Or perhaps a story that serves as an allegory for the state of Spain then and now. Instead, I found my translation a bit rough at times (I had a hard time getting into the flow of the language) and too much introspection woven into what was just a ludicrous action plot.
I wanted to like it. I liked the idea of reading something that was popular in Spain. But I fear that I am part of that audience that it just didn’t translate into a hit for. If it had just stuck to the action parts, I would have liked it a lot more. Even if it had stuck to the introspection, the pessimism about the state of Spain and the national pride of its people, I would have at least known what I was reading. Instead I got pieces of both that ended up making the book not feel very cohesive or maintain enough enthusiasm for me.
It’s a real shame because I think there is promise here. But it just wasn’t realized for me.