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Captain Alatriste Hardcover – May 5, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Captain Alatriste
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Printing edition (May 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915275X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152757
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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 won’t hurt either.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

The characters seemed too much like characters.
Stephen McHenry
The book is easy to read (even with the translated text), has an good pace and an interesting story line.
R. Nicholson
Suspense, humor, intrigue -- a narration balanced with admiration and wisdom!
Madelyn S. Perry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up Arturo Perez-Reverte's "Captain Alatriste" recently. I put another recent book down while I read the first couple of chapters, just to get a feel for the book. I ended up reading "Captain Alatriste" in virtually one sitting. The other book was placed on hold. I consider that high praise.

Captain Alatriste is set in Madrid, Spain in the early 17th-century. The Spanish Armada had already been defeated but Spain was still the world's greatest superpower. The Captain is recently home from fighting in Flanders in the Dutch war for independence from Spain. He has come home because of a serious wound that has left him unfit for the military. However, and like many of veterans of Spain's wars, he is fit enough to eke out a meager living as something of a gun, or sword, or knife for hire. He collects debts, avenges the honor of cuckolded husbands, and even kills for the right price. He is very good at his job.

The story is narrated by Inigo, the son of one of Alatriste's friends who died in combat while fighting alongside Alatriste. Inigo is sent to Madrid by his impoverished mother, to work for Alatriste. As Inigo notes with some irony, if the mother did not know how the Captain earned a living. The style of the narration is reminiscent of Watson's narratives in Sherlock Holmes.

The plot is rather simple and evokes memories of the plot lines of the swashbuckling books of yesteryear. Alatriste is summoned to meet with some mysterious, yet clearly influential people. He is hired to waylay two young British civilians on their way to Madrid. He receives conflicting information about the extent of the damage he is to inflict on the young men. Partnered up with a sinister accomplice the assault does not go according to plan.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on May 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A veteran of the Flemish Wars, the brave and gallant Captain Triste has now been reduced to hiring out his sword. In this first installment, the Captain, along with an Italian mercenary, has been hired by two masked men of obvious wealth and power to "scare" two Englishmen, and to steal their belongings -- especially all their papers and documents. But when the more powerful of the two masked men leaves the room, the Captain and the Italian are told that their actual orders are to kill the Englishmen. The new orders make no difference to the Italian, but this change in instruction makes the Captain uneasy, especially when they come from the President of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition, Fray Emilio Bocanegra. But the Captain has little choice: he needs the money and doesn't have the luxury of going against the wishes of the tribunal. On the night of the attack however, the behaviour of the Englishmen, makes the Captain realise that these Englishmen are not merely two ordinary travelers and he puts a halt to the whole thing, earning himself the enmity of the Italian and the tribunal. And once the identities of the Englishmen are revealed and their purpose for being in Spain, Captain Alatriste realises that he has put himself in the middle of court politics, that the likelihood of surviving this mess is slim and that his enemies, who think that he has betrayed them, implacable and deadly...

As has been already noted, Arturo Perez-Reverte's "Captain Alatriste" is for the reader who enjoys a good swashbuckling read that's deeply imbued with the history and spirit of early 17th century Spain.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A. Turner VINE VOICE on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful read for anyone who loves Dumas, Sabatini, and the rest of the swashbuckler canon. Perez-Reverte gives us all the classic elements: a devious political plot, a sword-swinging hero (hooray!), a few eminently slimy villains (boo!), and a colorful cast of minor characters.

There's also a terrific sense of mood and place. The tone is introspective--the narrator is an older man remembering his youth--and the wealth of detail makes seventeenth-century Spain spring vividly to life. The level of literary ability is unusually high; kudos to both the author and to the translator.

There are only two shortcomings in _Captain Alatriste_. First, our hero (the eponymous captain) is rather passive throughout the story. He lets events come to him, rather than taking an active part. Second, much of the book seems to be set-up for later volumes in the series. That's not wholly a bad thing; it certainly made me eager to read the next volume. But it does lend the book a faintly unfinished quality.

Those kvetches aside, I can heartily recommend _Captain Alatriste_ to anyone who likes swordfights, historical novels, or both. And if you don't . . . try it anyway. You might find yourself sucked in.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By otro lector mas on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
For those who don't know Arturo Perez-Reverte, he was a war correspondent who for twenty years covered Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. The man has seen death upclose and knows how to write about it. He is also a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language: the folks who decide how Spanish is to be written. The man knows how to write. Period.

The Captain himself is an anachronism: the embodiment of modern cynicism applied to Spain's neverending, pointless wars for religion, honor, or glory, of which Flanders was the most pointless. On the other hand, the author is trying to inmerse the reader in the baroque feel of the Siglo de Oro, Spain's Golden Century of literature: the age of Cervantes, Calderon de La Barca, and Quevedo (all of whom were also soldiers and the latter two in fact served in Flanders). If the writing feels wordy it is because Sr. Perez-Reverte wrote this book as if he was in the 17th century. He makes you feel as if you are not only there, but then.

I'm a native Spanish speaker and I read this book in the original Spanish. I consider myself a well-educated person and still I constantly had to look up words in the dictionary, the writing was so rich and elaborate. To translate this book into English must have been a monumental challenge which I couldn't begin to fathom. I do hope, however, readers are able to grasp how brilliantly this book lets us glimpse at 17th century Spain through a modern glass without revealing the glass is there at all.
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