Pirates of the Levant (Capitan Alatriste Series #9)by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Accompanied by his faithful foster son, Íñigo, Captain Alatriste accepts a job as a mercenary aboard a Spanish galleon/b>
This was a time when Spain was revered, feared, and hated in the easterly seas; when the devil had no color, no name, and no flag; and when the only thing needed to summon hell on earth (or sea) was a Spaniard and his sword.
Accompanied by his faithful foster son, Íñigo, Captain Alatriste accepts a job as a mercenary aboard a Spanish galleon. The ship sets sail from Naples on a journey that will take them to some of the most remote-and wretched-outposts of the empire: Morocco, Algeria, and finally to Malta for a stunning and bloody battle on the high seas that will challenge even the battle-hardened Alatriste's resolve.
Now seventeen, Íñigo is almost ready to leave Alatriste, his foster father and fellow soldier. But will age and experience bring wisdom, or is he likely to repeat many of his mentor's mistakes?
Heaving bosoms and hyperbolic derring-do abound in this sixth volume of the acclaimed Spanish author's series of period swashbucklers (The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet, 2009, etc.).
It's announced as "the final installment" in the saga of freelance soldier of fortune Captain Alatriste and his page turned foster son and companion Íñigo Balboa (imagine Sancho Panza in flaming youth, eager to emulate his master Don Quixote's glamorous and amorous exploits). Final installment? Well, we all know what happened the first time Conan Doyle tried to off Sherlock Holmes, don't we? Be that as it may, Pérez-Reverte treats us to another rousing adventure firmly in the tradition of modern romancer Rafael Sabatini channeling the immortal Alexandre Dumas. Once again, Íñigo narrates, in old age, remembering. The story records their deeds as mercenary soldiers aboard a Spanish galleon on a perilous mission that will culminate in a savage battle at sea, traveling from Naples through the eastern Mediterranean to Morocco and Algeria, thence Venice, and eventually Malta. Alatriste attempts to rescue an old friend; Íñigo, itching to attain full maturity (he has survived to the age of 17), writhes in the coils of his infatuation with beautiful Angélica, the niece of Alatriste's oldenemy—and either a paragon of burgeoning womanhood or a homicidal vixen leading the impulsive Íñigo to his doom. The action feels a bit generic, but the nicely timed introductions of savory and unsavory supporting characters keeps the reader hooked. (Pérez-Reverte even invents his own Gunga Din—resourceful Moorish manservant Gurriat.) The mix is further enriched by an autumnal sense of the waste and folly—and inevitability—of men's compulsion to go to war.
First-rate entertainment, from one of the masters.
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Meet the Author
Arturo Perez-Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war correspondent, he now writes fiction full-time. His novels include The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, The Fencing Master, The Seville Communion, The Nautical Chart, and The Queen of the South. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.
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In the year 1627 sword for hire Captain Alatriste and his former page Inigo now an adult seventeen year older soldier in his own right, are on board the Spanish galleon Mulata. When not at sea battling Spain's enemies and collecting booty, they are based in Naples. It is in Naples that Inigo shows he needs more time to grow up as he tangles with a swindling gang and needs his former mentor's help to keep him safe. They have adventures as they catch and bound their enemies and sell prisoners as slaves for booty. In a remote Spanish port on the North African island Oran, Captain Alatriste and Inigo meet Sebastian Copons whose supervisor refuses to allow him to leave the island because he needs all the soldiers he can deploy. After Alatriste tries to buy his friend's freedom, Gurriat the Moor sees the captain in action and attaches himself to him and earns a berth on the Mulata. The four of them and the rest of the Mulata crew believe they are going to die in battle against several Turkish ships, but refuse to back down. This is the final book in the swashbuckling Alatristo historical saga and like its predecessors (see Cavalier in a Yellow Doublet, The King's Gold, The Sun Over Breda, Purity of Blood and Captain Alatristo) this entry vividly brings to life historical Spain as if the reader is there. The audience observes as if at the front the Christian civil war with the Mohammedans (Moors) as religious intolerance led to strife and conflict. Pirates of the Levant makes the Edwin Starr case of the ugliest of "War, what is it good for; absolutely nothing" inside a great adventure thriller. Harriet Klausner