Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh Alatriste! Who cares if every one of your five (so far) novels are exactly the same ?

I love Captain Alatriste! And I loved The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet

I love Alatriste: I love his low-brimmed hat and his black boots and his long moustache and the fact that he broods and broods and glares at us with steely grey eyes and then broods again.

And I love the fact that every Alatriste novel set in Madrid is exactly the same ( The Sun Over Breda and The King's Gold had some fun battle scenes and ships and pirates and treasure and stuff.... ) except when Inigo almost gets swallowed up by the Spanish Inquisition in Purity of Blood but with that slight hiccup its all the same.

I LOVE these books. In fact, Alatriste ----actually Alatriste's Madrid--- what with its cobblestones and lanterns and taverns and poets and theatre and carriages and equal parts squalour and lavish riches--- have made Spain ( after Vienna, Austria) my most foreseeable future trip.

I gotta hand it to Perez-Reverte for sheer atmosphere. Our guide, Inigo Balboa, page to the elusive Alatriste, is looking back on his life as the famous sword-for-hire's page and like the legend-in-making is as close to the Spanish lore he embroiders with his snippets of verse and poem; of theatre; of Cervantes.

So much Cervantes.

Perez-Reverte crafts an homage to Spain. He makes it grand. Alatriste paints it grand. Inigo gives us the insider scoop on how it is grand.

This is unabashed patriotism here, kids, all over the place, dripping from the rooftop of the Inn of the Turk ( where Alatriste and Inigo take rooms) through the countless barrels of wine to the blood-soaked alleyways bereft of Alatriste's recent swordthrust.

Like all of the novels in the series, The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet is all swordplay and tawdry romance and epic conspiracy: this time-- with regicide.

I seem to always be reading Alatriste on a plane somewhere: which is magnificent because I have a bit of a fear of heights and like to get wholly engrossed in a yarn before take off so that I don't look up from my book.

My first two Alatristes were consumed on a trip to the Maritimes; The King's Gold en route to New York City and today en route to St John's Newfoundland where I am here for work, my dreary eyes didn't abhor the early morning flight ---instead they were countered with a venti latte ( triple shot, dear god yes!) and another round of Alatriste.

If you haven't read them yet and have a penchant for historical fiction --- or just need some sweeping swashbuckling from a dazzlingly romantic era of trickery and derring-do, then get yourself some Perez-Reverte. But, a caveat, they always take forever to be translated into English and I tap my fingernails forever until the next installment is tossed my way.

Two BIG Rachel Thumbs Up

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