From Publishers Weekly
International bestseller Pérez-Reverte (The Club Dumas
) offers a winning swashbuckler set in 17th-century Spain. Hooded figures, apparently acting on the behalf of Fray Emilio Bocanegra, "president of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition," hire famed soldier Capt. Diego Alatriste to murder two Englishmen who have come to Madrid. One of the hooded figures, however, begs Alatriste (out of earshot of the others) only to wound the pair. When Alatriste and his fellow assassin, an ill-humored Italian, surprise the British, the captain is impressed by the fighting spirit they show, and he prevents the assassination from taking place. (The Italian, infuriated, swears eternal revenge.) When the Englishmen turn out to be on an important mission, Alatriste suddenly finds himself caught between a number of warring factions, Spanish and otherwise. Splendidly paced and filled with a breathtaking but not overwhelming sense of the history and spirit of the age, this is popular entertainment at its best: the characters have weight and depth, the dialogue illuminates the action as it furthers the story and the film-worthy plot is believable throughout. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (May 5)
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If you read The Queen of the South
(***1/2 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 wont hurt either.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.