Thursday, January 19, 2012

I’d Like To Introduce You To Another Captain…

Now that I’ve finally finished a Captain Alatriste book as a blogger, I get to introduce you to him officially. I included a short review here for the third book, The Sun Over Breda. But just as Captain Blood got his real first post, it is now Captain Diego Alatriste’s turn.

Now who is Captain Diego Alatriste? He is a Spanish soldier/sword for hire living in 17th century Madrid. Not really a Captain, it’s a title that has been attached to him out of respect as a career soldier. He’s accompanied by Íñigo Balboa, a teenager throughout the series, who has been left in the care of the Captain after the death of his father, a good friend of Alatriste’s. The books are a series of adventures, told in the first person by an older Íñigo, as he recounts his early years with the Captain. The series is written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, a former war journalist turned full time author. It’s his experience as a war journalist that he’s able to bring to life 17th century Spain with its court intrigue, drama, sword fights, pirates and bloody sieges.

I started the Captain Alatriste series about 5-6 years ago. I don’t remember how I discovered the first book, titled Captain Alatriste, but I picked it out because I had read The Three Musketeers (and loved it) and it was in that same genre. Captain Alatriste was a fun read and it led me to go out and get the next, Purity of Blood, another good read. There was then a 2-3 year gap between the first two books and the third, The Sun Over Breda. After finishing The Sun Over Breda, it seemed the honeymoon had ended with Captain Alatriste. But The King’s Gold has won me back.

It was a much more enjoyable read than The Sun Over Breda, which is surprising since I like stories of battlefields and soldiers and sieges (hence my obsession several years ago when I went on a reading rampage of The Sharpe novels). But The Sun Over Breda had too many interruptions of the main storyline with Íñigo’s musings of his life that was to come. In The King’s Gold, there was less interruptions of the storyline with background info and side stories. One thing I did like in The Sun Over Breda was that it introduced a more detached narrator when Íñigo was not involved, and we got to see Alatriste on a separate mission that involved a bloody fight in some tunnels during the siege of Breda. It was strange then, being so used to Íñigo’s voice in book one and two. In The King’s Gold it was introduced again and I liked it. It gave me a tiny peek into the mind of Diego Alatriste; to see what makes him tick. I liked it and hope to see more of that when I read The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet, the fifth book in the series.

Another fun thing about The King’s Gold and the other books in the series, despite the fact it often interrupts the narrative, is the history lesson. It may go overboard with the descriptions and you want it to hurry along so you can get to the action but you get a real sense of what it was like in 17th century Spain. Arturo Pérez-Reverte paints a picture with the sights and sounds that make you feel like you are there. The books are not necessarily heavy on plot, which is probably why there are so many interruptions from Íñigo, but it’s more about the adventure and sword fights that I’ve found enjoyable with this series.

And now you’re probably thinking, Well, Sarah, this wasn’t much of a review but it’s the best thing I’ve EVER READ (stop, you’re making me blush!) and I'll go read the Captain Alatriste books now, but what’s going on with the Science Fiction Experience?

Well, if you must know...

I did read Foundation by Isaac Asimov! And I’m getting set to start the next book in the series, Foundation and Empire, for the next group read. I’m on page 82 of Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. I had two false starts with The Difference Engine and Count to a Trillion. I’ve been hoarding some book reviews so I’m getting them out of the way this month and plan to devote February to my Sci-Fi Experience reviews. That is if I get to read more beyond the group read books because there’s this little show called Doctor Who that has completely taken over my life these past three weeks and I’ll explain further in February about WHYILOVEITSOMUCHANDDON’TCARETHATIT’STAKENOVERMYLIFE!

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