13 February 2006

Book Banter -- Purity of Blood

Title: Purity of Blood (Captain Alatriste, bk. 2)
Author: Arturo Perez-Reverte
Length: 262 pages
Genre: historical fiction/adventure
Plot Basics: Captain Diego Alatriste, war veteran and now sword-for-hire, is employed by Don Vicente de la Cruz to rescue his daughter from a convent. The rescue does not go as planned and Alatriste and his squire Inigo Balboa find themselves caught in up politics and religious pursuits that are tangled with the deadly Spanish Inquisition.
Banter Points: Captain Alatriste is like the Batman of 17th-century Spain -- dark, silent, brooding and living with his own code of honor making him a complicated character. As with the first Alatriste book, Perez-Reverte weaves Spanish history and poetry liberally through the book to give an honesty to his period novels.
An astute reader will notice that the POV switches from Inigo the narrator to a third-person account during part of the book, something Word Nerd has harped on in previous posts. However, in this book it works. Why -- because the whole story is told to "Your Mercies" by Inigo years later and it's logical that Alatriste would have filled him in on what happened so he could recount that part of the story as well.
Bummer Points: Those of us reading Alatriste in English have to wait until 2007 for the next installment of his adventures and through 2009 to get the whole five-book series in English. Word Nerd wishes she had studied Spanish so the wait could be shorter.
Word Nerd recommendation: Fans of The Three Musketeers and The Scarlet Pimpernel will like the Captain Alatriste books. It's a little tough sometimes to hang with Inigo's opining on the state of affairs and culture in 17th-century Spain, but it's worth it. Sometimes Perez-Reverte's gems of sentences are hidden in these passages.


stay_c said...

I just picked this one up at the library. Am I screwing the series if I start with book two instead of one?

Bethany K. Warner said...

Yes. There are characters that show up in the second book who are introduced in the first book. When they reappear, the assumption is a reader already knows who they are.
Things like The Italian and his whistling just lose something if you don't know what happened with the whistling Italian.