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Purity of Blood: Book Two of the Adventures of Captain Alatristeby Arturo Perez-Reverte
Synopses & Reviews
Arturo Pérez-Reverte is one of the most beloved writers in the world. His bestselling novels, including The Club Dumas and The Queen of the South, have been published in fifty countries and translated into twenty-eight languages. Now, with The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, he delivers a magnificent series, already a million-copy bestseller in Spain, that chronicles the heroic adventures of a seventeenth-century swordsman.
In Purity of Blood, the second novel in the series, the courageous Alatriste is considering rejoining his old regiment to fight in Breda — but his blade leads him to another adventure. A desperate father hires him to rescue his daughter from a convent where a powerful priest is said to be using the girl as his personal concubine. The father has been prevented from legal recourse because the priest has threatened to reveal that the man's family is "not of pure blood" — is, in fact, of Jewish descent — which will all but destroy the family name. Alatriste agrees to help, and several nights later, under the cloak of darkness, a rescue attempt is made.
But soon Alatriste discovers that he has become part of a religious and political conspiracy that leads all the way to the highest levels of the Inquisition. When a date is set to burn the man's daughter at the stake, Captain Alatriste springs into action — sword first — setting off a series of twists and turns that will keep readers riveted to the page.
"Those looking for seriously entertaining thrills will welcome Prez-Reverte's second 17th-century Spanish swashbuckler featuring the exploits of stoic, honorable Capt. Diego Alatriste (after 2005's Captain Alatriste). A father and two brothers accompany Alatriste on a mission to rescue their sister from the convent in which she has been imprisoned. Things go wrong when an old enemy of the captain ensures that Alatriste's ward, 13-year-old Inigo Balboa, falls into the hands of the Inquisition. With the aid of the great Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, all is made right. Rich in historical detail and sardonic observations, the narrative begins leisurely. The pace picks up, but the action is never so breathless as to sweep the reader along, as with Captain Alatriste. Still, this will matter little to fans, who are sure to look forward to further installments in the series." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Captain Diego Alatriste y Tenorio seems somehow familiar. You know the type: world-weary, cynical, quietly lethal — the type of fellow who, 'while others strut about clanking their swords against the furniture and boasting in loud voices, sits quietly in a corner of the gaming house, unblinking, taking in every detail, not opening his mouth, until suddenly he gets up and without changing expression... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) walks over and skewers you with a sword.' Yet the good captain, a veteran of the imperial wars with the Dutch who's become a blade for hire in 17th-century Spain, also somehow manages to be reliably decent, ferociously loyal and grudgingly idealistic. In other words, we've all met this caballero before: Humphrey Bogart played him in 'Casablanca,' and the brilliant pop-culture magpie Joss Whedon flung him into an outer-space Western in last fall's 'Serenity.' Sure, he's a mercenary, but he always winds up doing the right thing — at the expense of his purse, his reputation and, inevitably, his foes. Alatriste is presented with a wink and a grin in 'Purity of Blood,' the second book of a series by Arturo Perez-Reverte that's become a literary sensation in Spain. Think of this sprightly novel as Dumas with tapas; the book richly evokes the ambience of the 'turbulent, ruined, but still proud Spain' of Philip IV even as it cheerfully traipses through pretty much every one of the conventions from past swashbucklers. Perez-Reverte, the author of other high-minded best-sellers ('The Queen of the South'), offers a flamboyant doff of a frowzily plumed hat here to the clanking adventure tales of his youth. He had a high old time introducing his cast of characters in the first volume, 'Captain Alatriste.' They're all back here, although there's lamentably less space for the captain's inamorata, a sultry innkeeper named Caridad la Lebrijana; it's a good indicator of how square the series is that she is not a hooker with a heart of gold but an ex-hooker with a heart of gold. The plot this time revolves around Elvira de la Cruz, the daughter of Don Vicente, the patriarch of an old Valencia family. The damsel is being held behind the thick walls of La Adoracion convent, and her father fears 'the vile and avaricious: priests who had concubines and bastard children, confessors who preyed on women in the confessional.' To make matters worse, the 'purity' of the Valencian's family is, as the don delicately puts it, 'not categorical.' His great-grandfather was a Jewish convert, and an odious priest has denounced Elvira for having Jewish blood — hardly the sort of thing one relishes during the Spanish Inquisition, 'a time when hatred of Jews and heretics was considered an indispensable component of faith.' With his characteristic shrug, 'half resignation and half indifference,' Alatriste accepts the gig — thereby placing his 'neck in a noose for a family of Jew-turned-Christian conversos.' This also endangers the series' reliably clueless narrator, Inigo Balboa, the orphaned teenage son of one of Alatriste's wartime brothers in arms, whom the supposedly self-centered captain has taken in. Young Balboa's designated role here is to gaze adoringly at his valiant father figure, handle the exposition, wax philosophical and get caught by the baddies every few chapters. Perez-Reverte has such fun with the setup that it drags somewhat, and matters don't really start to rollick along until he rolls out his best villain: Inigo hears a sinister whistle behind him in a Madrid alley, 'a kind of ti-ri-tu, ta-ta,' and sees an ominous 'dark silhouette cloaked in a cape and a black wide-brimmed hat.' This smashing entrance brings on the deliciously loathsome Gualterio Malatesta, an Italian assassin with a 'thin, pockmarked and scarred face' and icily amused eyes as 'black as his clothing' who promptly hands the hapless Inigo over to the Inquisition. Here, finally, are two adversaries dangerous enough to make even Alatriste break a sweat. As you'll have gathered by now, the pleasure here is all in the execution, not the novelty; when it comes to villains, after all, everyone expects the Spanish Inquisition. 'Purity of Blood,' for all its attempts to evoke loftier themes about the dangers of fanaticism ('Never trust a man who reads only one book,' Perez-Reverte wickedly notes in the novel's best aphorism), is fundamentally formulaic — and a hoot nevertheless. Perez-Reverte's enthusiasm is contagious, and the story is propelled by his glee. When the last echo of the last clang of the last duel has died away down the muddy streets of Madrid, readers will be hungry for the next volume. They should expect more of the same — which is, after all, the point. When asked about a job, Alatriste pauses, thinks and responds, 'It will involve swordplay, I imagine.' Give us the foils. Come on." Reviewed by Warren Bass, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Filled with fabulous historical detail....Purity of Blood is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] completely absorbing novel that, like the first one in the series, absolutely defines swashbuckling....This novel is written in the mold of Dumas' musketeer novels and excitingly upholds the tradition." Booklist
"On the whole, once it extricates itself from a backlog of long names and previous plot developments, Purity of Blood hits the high note of Captain Alatriste and sustains the series' uncommon verve." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"It's great fun in the tradition of historical swashbucklers such as Three Musketeers or The Scarlet Pimpernel, and yet it's not all sword fights and breakneck horseback rides." Boston Globe
"Pérez-Reverte is a master at evoking the particular color of the times, with brothels, taverns, torero arenas and dark alleyways as essential props." Los Angeles Times
"As Alatriste battles Italian arch-nemesis Gualterio Malatesta, Pérez-Reverte provides characteristically stirring play-by-play." Christian Science Monitor
"Though thrilling in places, the Alatriste stories are not meant to be raced through....Pérez-Reverte has obligingly already written the next three books, so all we have to do is persuade Putnam to release them as quickly as possible." Detroit Free Press
A desperate father hires Alatriste to rescue his daughter from a convent where a powerful priest is said to be using the girl as his personal concubine. Soon Alatriste discovers that he has become part of a religious and political conspiracy that leads all the way to the highest levels of the Inquisition.
The second swashbuckling adventure in the internationally acclaimed Captain Alatriste series
Captain Alatriste, Madrids most charismatic swashbuckler, returns in Perez-Revertes acclaimed international bestseller. The fearless Alatriste is hired to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young girl forced to serve as a powerful priests concubine. The girls father is barred from legal recourse as the priest threatens to reveal that the mans family is not of pure blood and is, in fact, of Jewish descent—which will all but destroy the family name. As Alatriste struggles to save the young hostage from being burned at the stake, he soon finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that leads all the way to the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. A literary thriller that delivers adventure and rich historical detail, Purity of Blood captivates to the final page.
About the Author
Arturo Perez-Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war journalist, he now writes fiction full-time. His novels have been published in fifty countries. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.
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