Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

When Alexandre Dumas wrote his classic swashbucklers, a hundred and fifty years ago, he had an audience that was prepared for serialized novels. We're all familiar with the stories of Americans waiting at the docks for the next installment of a Dickens' novel to arrive from London. But in this day and age -- with the very rare exception of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities and Stephen King's Green Mile -- we've come to expect that our novels will come completed. In fact, I've even personally stopped reading fantasy series' like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time because the middle volumes became so plodding that I don't trust him to ever finish the dang thing (many others have told me they did the same). So the reader of Arturo Perez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste ought to be warned that it is, by and large, just a prologue to the adventures of the eponymous hero. As a result, characters are introduced who will apparently only matter in later volumes, several storylines are left undeveloped or hanging, and the central action of the plot is curiously undramatic. It serves as a fine introduction, but I found it unsatisfying as a stand-alone novel.

Mr. Perez-Reverte is clearly paying a conscious homage to Dumas, even bringing the Duke of Buckingham into the story and mentioning the Lady de Winter. Here the narrator is a D'Artagnanesque youngster who plays the squire to Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio, an unemployed veteran of Spain's Flemish wars. The action centers around Alatriste, who is dark and forbidding in somewhat the way that Athos was in the Three Musketeers. The rest of the elements are stirred in liberally, from frequent swordplay to clerical treachery and the rest. If it never quite captures the magic and narrative drive of the original, it's nonetheless enjoyable enough to leave s looking forward to the sequels.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Arturo Perez-Reverte (2 books reviewed)
Arturo Perez-Reverte Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Arturo Pérez Reverte
    -EXCERPT: from Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte: The Tavern of the Turk
    -INTERVIEW: Arturo Pérez-Reverte: "The story of a sailor without a ship has already been told hundreds of times." (interviewed by Ron Hogan, Beatrice)
    -INTERVIEW: The Accidental Author, A conversation with Arturo Perez-Reverte (
    -ARTICLE: Spanish authors caught up in tale of literary piracy (Giles Tremlett, September 25, 2003, The Guardian)
    -Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Wikipedia)
    -Arturo Perez-Reverte (Stop, You're Killing Me!)
    -Arturo Pérez Reverte (Spain 1951) (don Quijote)
    -ARCHIVES: Arturo Perez-Reverte (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Michael Dirda, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Steven Poole, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Guy Fiortta, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Jorge Antonio Renaud, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Nora Seton, Houston Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Carlo Wolff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (BookBrowse)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste (Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Captain Alatriste ()
    -REVIEW: of Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez-Reverte (John Dugdale, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of The Flanders Panel (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Flanders Panel (FS, The Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: of The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Paul Baumann, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Seville Communion (Clay Stafford, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Reviewing the Evidence))
    -REVIEW: of The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Margot Livesey, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Club Dumas (Daniel Foster, Classic Bookshop)
    -REVIEW: of The Club Dumas (George Cowmeadow Bauman, Book Page)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart (Geraldine Bedell, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart (John Carlin, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart (Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart (Adam Mazmanian, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart (Dan Crowe, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Nautical Chart ()
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (Julia Lovell, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (Susan Kelly, USA Today)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (Michael Dibdin, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (John Ziebell, Las Vegas Mercury)
    -REVIEW: of Queen of the South (Catherine Taylor, The Guardian) FILMS:

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Arturo Perez-Reverte (
    -The New York Times > Movies > People > Arturo Perez-Reverte
    -REVIEW: of The Ninth Gate (Elvis Mitchell, NY Times)

Book-related and General Links: