Captain Alatriste

Written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Review by Lucille Cormier

The story (pub. 1996 in Spanish) is “the adventure of masked men and two Englishmen,” a superbly told tale set in 17th century Madrid. It is an adventure from start to finish, moving with the rhythm of fencing masters at play – swift, light motion, pause, explosive clash of action – always gallant, always proud.

The story’s namesake, Captain Diego Alatriste, is a veteran of the Flemish Wars. His soldier’s skills are up for hire. The commission he undertakes is deadly, his life at stake if he fails. If he succeeds, Spain and England will again cross swords. But the story is not all dark skullduggery. The narrator, Alatriste’s ward, Inigo, recounts the tale with the candor and simplicity of youth. The poet, Francisco de Quevedo, is a comic foil. Thus the story is light and dark, innocent and cynical at the same time. It leaves the reader happy, sad, and wanting to know what is next in store for Alatriste. This being said, though, this reader, for one, hopes that the author will soon take up a new intellectual thriller of the type that first brought him to the world’s attention… Nonetheless, Captain Alatriste is an awfully good read.