four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-CaptainAlatristeWelcome to 17th-century Spain. Our hero, Diego Alatriste, is a swank and dashing swordsman who could put d’Artagnan to shame. In this first installment of a planned five-volume series, Alatriste is hired by a representative of the Inquisition to murder two Englishmen traveling through Madrid. Though Alatriste finds the men and stages a theft, he spares their lives—a choice that leads straight into an intriguing political thicket, as the Englishmen turn out to be the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Buckingham.
Putnam. 272 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 039915275X

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Pérez-Reverte’s pacing is swift and suspenseful, the narrative voice both crisply cinematic and true to the setting of 17th-century imperial Spain—an accomplishment in its own right. … Alatriste is the quintessential smart, honorable and wily protagonist, with just enough rebel in his character to rescue him from dreary superhero perfection." Lynda Sandoval

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Pérez-Reverte is a master of the thriller; his last novel, Queen of the South, was vibrant and seductive. Captain Alatriste is more concise, with little fat, perhaps in preparation of the next four books. Such tightness serves this quick-read well." Marta Barber

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"The plot line isn’t that complicated but the social settings are. … How our brave and weary captain, kind of a spiritual forefather of the noble gumshoe celebrated in the noir thrillers of Hammett and Chandler, navigates such choppy moral seas is the fascination of this deceptively complex, captivating book." Carlo Wolff

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"Though there is plenty of action and intrigue in Pérez-Reverte’s novel, it’s more than just a swashbuckler. One reads on in large part because the scenes are so vividly— no, lovingly—portrayed." Frank Wilson

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Equipped with a quick-witted, charismatic hero and much to provoke and goad him, Mr. Pérez-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." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

If you read The Queen of the South ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2004), you already know what a sure, confident writer Pérez-Reverte is. In fact he is one of the few authors about whom the appellation "international best-seller" actually means something. Captain Alatriste, which has sold over a million copies in Spain, is just now being released across the ocean. Reviewers seem confident that American readers will gobble it up as well. The historical detail is engaging, but never heavy-handed. The characters (some, like the painter Velázquez or poet Francisco de Quevedo, real) are well-rounded. The prose is taut and the pace quick. Captain Alatriste is sure to both delight and whet your appetite for the second in the series, Purity of Blood, due out next January. The film starring Viggo Mortensen probably won’t hurt either.

Coming Soon

PUrIty of Blood (2006): Alatriste is hired to rescue a man’s daughter from a convent where she is being abused by a powerful priest. Along the way, Alatriste discovers conspiracies that reach the top levels of the Inquisition.