“Captain Alatriste” is for the reader who enjoys a good swashbuckling read that’s deeply imbued with the history and spirit of early 17th century Spain. However, I’d have to say that it is not the most breathtakingly fast paced read, because things do sag a little about a third way from the end, as our whimsical narrator, Captain Alariste’s page, Inigo Balboa, goes into great detail in order to give the reader an idea about the history, politics and culture of Spain in the 1600s.
This, in itself, is not a detraction. But because it came right about the time when things picked up and became rather exciting and suspenseful, the break in the “action” in order to give a more vivid picture of Spain at that moment, felt like an intrusion. Which was a rather strange reaction for someone like me to have because I for one always appreciate it when an author takes the time and effort to paint in the historical realities of the moment.
The problem was that “Captain Alatriste” is the first installment in a series of adventures, and it is a short novella. And because it is the first installment in a series of five adventures, the author spends quite a bit of time setting things up for future books — the politics and intrigues of the period, as well as thumbnail sketches of the various characters who figure in this adventure, and who will obviously figure in the subsequent adventures.
So that what actually occurs in “Captain Alatriste” is a very short accounting of how the gallant Captain manages to make so many enemies, and yet survives to fight another day. And as I noted all this is great fun and makes for very enthralling reading. However, the narrator’s musings and ruminations do get in the way, especially when they come at the point where the Captain is about to face another attempt on his life, and all I wanted was to read on, instead of which I was treated to a few pages of stanzas from the period.
"The good old days," is such a great statement. It is really nice to hear older people talk about their lives before a time that I have not known. Some older than me would refer to "the good old days," as maybe an entire decade or certain period in time. I would love to know what it would have been like in the 60's, but I don't think I would have wanted to live during that time. I would have loved ...
And while this added to the charm of the novel, I found myself skimming these bits in order to get to the “action. ” All in all, however, “Captain Alatriste” was a very fantastic read, and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys heroic historical novels. I just cannot believe however, that I have to wait till January of 2006 to read the next Captain Alatriste installment!