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The Fencing Master Paperback – June 7, 2004
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“A taut, elegant mystery . . . Pérez-Reverte keeps us enthralled with his
duel through the very last move.”—ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
From the Back Cover
I n Madrid in 1 8 6 8 , fencing master and man of honor Don Jaime is approached by a mysterious woman who seeks to learn the secret of the unstoppable thrust, an arcane technique known only to him. All too soon he finds himself in the vortex of a plot that includes seduction, secret political documents, and more than one murder. Rich with the historical detail of a decaying world that agonizes-as does the world of fencing itself-over the ideals of honor and chivalry, The Fencing Master is superb literature and a true page-turner.
"Extraordinary . . .The brilliant, final fencing match is pure poetry."-The Denver Post
Internationally acclaimed author Pérez-Reverte was born in 1951 in Spain, where he lives. His bestselling books have been translated into nineteen languages in thirty countries and have sold millions of copies.
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Arturo-Perez's writing style takes an already decent mystery and turns it into a wonderful read. The Fencing Master is earlier in his writing career and does not reach the heights of some of his best work, but nearly so. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful read. For me, it is 4 stars, but note that I tend to rate more critically than most reviewers who give 5 stars to a book that they managed to finish.
Fencing is an exciting art, and although im far from understanding the lingo, at least i was able to discern the connection that it had to the overall murial painted for us by the author.
The master Don Jaime is a very interesting character with a very rich, but lonely life, someone who is very much in touch with his weaknesses, and yet someone who has a strong sense of his unalterable end, and knows that there s nothing that can be done about it..So he keeps on going by his routine.
At such point he falls in love, which his spirit strongly resists, as much as his heart resists the fact that he is not yet withered away and is in fact ready for such an encounter. That said, his professionalism does not allow him to cross the boundary...In fact that same adherence to the meticulousness in his life may save his hide later.
What's interesting all throughout the book, is that as we become more familiarized with Don Jaime's inner world, we also get too see why he is assigned a complicated role of the maitre of arms - a fencing master.
Good plot and characters. I always like how Perez-Reverte takes us into what may be obscure topics to most, well researched, but facts added told as a story, not a spitting out of rote facts (fencing, for example, here).
I recommend this book. In my mind, I even have a movie cast from this story (although I'm still waiting first for the film version of "Queen of the South" !!)
This is a lovely tale of character in the face of odds and the feelings that come with changing times... plus a little intrigue always helps. A quick and easy read.
Im ready to read more by Perez-Reverte.
Background abstract from the text: "In Madrid in 1868, fencing master and man of honor Don Jaime is approached by a mysterious woman who seeks to learn the secret of the unstoppable thrust, an arcane technique known only to him. All too soon he finds himself in the vortex of a plot that includes seduction, secret political documents, and more than one murder. Rich with the historical detail of a decaying world that agonizes--as does the world of fencing itself--over the ideals of honor and chivalry, The Fencing Master is superb literature and a true page-turner."
This is the second Perez-Reverte book I've read and I have to admit I really like his intelligent style of writing. I found the first half of the book to open very slowly building the back-story for the protagonist (Don Jaime Astarloa) and potential love interest with Adele De Otero who insistently pleads with him to teach her the fencing secret he perfected; "the unstoppable thrust."
*Spoiler here* The second half of the book quickly builds suspense and intrigue ending with a shocking conclusion. The final part of the story ends with Don Jaime discovering that Adele was acting as the agent of espionage for powerful economic interests. She attempts to kill her Maestro with the same fencing thrust maneuver she learned from him but with which he executes with the skill of "The Fencing Master" leading to her demise (with the thrust through her eye socket).
Well done and rife with a vivid historical backdrop and references. Five stars.