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The Siege: A Novel Hardcover – November 4, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (November 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069688
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069682
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Blue in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't think that there are many better at describing battle action and its aftermath than the Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte. The author's mystery stories are equally well written and original. His background as a journalist equips him with the gift of observation and a straightforward writing style that is not overburdened with metaphors, adjectives/adverbs, etc. All of this skill comes to bear in "Siege", a story of a somewhat obscure moment in the Peninsular War that was something of a sideshow in Napoleon's attempt to conquer the whole of Europe.

By 1811, the French controlled a good chunk of Iberia, with the Spanish loyalists and their British allies holding on to a few coastal cities and isolated inland areas. Cadiz, at the extreme southwest corner of Spain was the most notable holdout against the French and hosted the Spanish government-in-exile. In the year 1811, while the ancient city was besieged by the French on land and sea, a series of gruesome murders begins, and the crimes increasingly appear to be connected to the placement of the French shelling of Cadiz's neighborhoods.

On the trail of the serial killer, is the city's chief of police--ruthless in his policing methods and angered by his inability of stop the murders. While the killings continue, Cadiz's role as a maritime center continues and the story recounts some skillfully told sea battles--another of author Perez-Reverte's fortes.

While there is enormous detail about artillery, metaphysics and 19th Century commerce crammed into this novel, it is the rich stew of history, compelling characters and policing that allows this book to live up to this writer's well-earned reputation as one of the most original storytellers in historic fiction and mystery genres currently active.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Arturo Perez-Reverte. This is a complex historical novel, with loads of nautical detail, all pretty accurate. I found myself a bit lost at first in not knowing Cadiz town and environs at all. Then I printed myself off a couple of maps from Google Earth, a street plan and a general map of the coast including Cadiz. All became much clearer. I read it on my Kindle, but now regret not buying a real book, as this is a story I shall read again. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I received an ARC e-book copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Arturo Perez Reverte is one of my favorite historical novelists. I enjoyed The Club Dumas, The Fencing Master, The Flanders Panel, the Captain Alatriste series, The Seville Communion and his non-historical novel The Painter of Battles. The Seige, however, was not a favorite.

The history and narration are sound. We get a strong sense of the city of Cadiz, the tense atmosphere of the siege, the politics of the time, day to day life, the operation of pirates, and the limitations and proper usage of artillery. The story has battles, raids, romance, a murder mystery, and well drawn characters. What it doesn’t have, in my opinion, is pacing. The novel moves along at a leisurely pace, gradually advancing the various story lines in small increments, and overwhelms the reader with data. I was frustrated when at over 300 pages into the novel, nothing much had happened.

I found the extended sections on politics and culture to eventually be tedious. I remember a college professor that said when you are reading Don Quixote and he meets a peasant, merchant, or traveler and they start talking politics, then skip to the end of that chapter. I felt like that.

Also, in a book this length, I think that a writer should stage exciting events (mini-climaxes) along the way to keep the reader moving along.

One the other hand, if you are a history buff and know this period or want to learn about it, then you will most likely enjoy the novel. Mr. Reverte certainly knows what he is writing about and he is a very skilled writer. For me, I liked his other novels better.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read Perez-Reverte's "The Club Dumas" and "The Queen of the South," enjoying the latter so much I even tried watching the mini-series based on it. (Alas, my Spanish fluency, passable enough to order dinner in a restaurant, was not robust enough for this endeavor.) I've never read his Cpt Alatriste series -- the subject matter didn't grab me -- but "The Siege" with its promise of a serial murderer amid wartime storyline seemed like a good opportunity to read this author again.

Typically, I read for about 30 minutes before going to bed, as a way to relax and banish the sounds of my often bickering children before dreamtime. To say that I suffered my way through this novel as though it were some sort of punishment meted out by an angry god is an understatement. I actually began to dread having to read it. Normally, I would have quit and moved on to something better -- life is too short to read bad books, in my opinion -- but something compelled me to trudge forward every night, hoping that it would improve. My thinking went something like this:

The first 100 pages: "Well, maybe it started slowly and gets better. Sometimes that happens. I'll give it another 100 pages."
After 200 pages: "He has to be getting to a point where these story lines intersect. I'll give it another 100 pages."
After 300 pages. "Sh**. I'm halfway through this book. Should I stop or forge ahead? He wrote 'Queen of the South' though -- it's GOT to get better."
After 400 pages. "This is not getting better."
After 500 pages. "I'm glad I have the hard cover version of this book so I can beat myself over the head with it for having wasted my life on it.
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