"He was not the most honest or pious of men, but he was courageous...It was one of Diego Alatriste's virtues that he could make friends in Hell."
Set in Spain during the 17th century, The Adventures of Captain Alatriste tells the story of a loyal swordsman in the service of King Felipe IV, fighting for his country during the Eighty Years War, as the Spanish empire is beginning to crumble. What a figure Captain Alatriste cuts throughout these novels: tall and slim, wrapped in his cape, with a sword and long dagger at his side, his face shadowed by the broad brim of a felt hat, an aquiline nose, huge mustache, and blazing eyes.
The story begins in Flanders, the Netherlands, where the
Captain and his friend Lope Balboa are waging war to save the outposts of the empire. When Lope is killed, the Captain
agrees to take his young son Íñigo under his wing and it is this young man who
relays the story to us. When the Captain returns to Madrid, he and young Íñigo
find themselves without an employer and the Captain is selling his sword to the
highest bidder.Its in the rough streets of Madrid that the two make their living, with the occasional help from friends.
The heroic tale of a rough, charismatic swordsman combined a wry social history of a corrupt and dying Spanish Empire, as well as the coming of age story of the novel's narrator, Iñgio Balboa, the orphaned son now apprenticed to Alatriste. The Captain struggles to maintain his honor during a time when honor is frequently bought and sold, while Íñigo tries to understand the complexities of Spanish honor, and falling in love with the aloof and unobtainable Angelina. Splendidly paced and superbly written, Pérez-Reverte succeeds in telling a fantastic adventure story that never loses its sense of history.
The movie starring Viggo Mortensen was released in Spain in 2006, it was nominated for best picture in 2007 at the European Film Awards.