Purity of Blood: Arturo Pérez-Reverte

★★★½

The Adventures of Captain Alatriste: Book II

In the second book in Pérez-Reverte’s swashbuckling series, we rejoin the eponymous captain and his page Íñigo shortly after the adventure of the two Englishmen recounted in Captain Alatriste. Life has returned to its normal rhythm and the captain is contemplating a return to active service in Flanders; but an encounter with their old friend, the poet don Francisco de Quevedo, raises the prospect of work to be done in Madrid.

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Captain Alatriste: Arturo Pérez-Reverte

★★★★

For the elite, Spain in the 1620s is a world of stately protocol, fine poetry and all the trappings of a great empire: the sun may be setting on Spanish dominance in the New World, but there’s still enough light to enjoy it while it lasts. Outside the insulated world of the court, however, things are very different. For the man on the street, it’s a world of living hand-to-mouth, gossip on street corners and scurrilous sonnets, where every insult is met with steel and where the appearance of gentility (bearing arms, getting good seats at the theatre) is more important than the reality. Into this roistering world of old soldiers, literary priests and jobbing poets comes young, wide-eyed Íñigo, whose mother has sent him to live with his late father’s comrade-in-arms, Captain Alatriste.

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