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The Fencing Master

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  5,792 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews
Fencing is not a game but a science. The outcome is invariably the same: triumph or disaster, life or death...

It is 1868; Spain teeters on the brink of revolution. Jaime Astarloa is a master-fencer of the old school, priding himself on the precision, dignity and honour of his ancient art; his friends spend their days in cafes discussing plots at court, but Jaime's obsessio
Published December 30th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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This is my favourite of Perez-Reverte's books that I've read thus far. The stoic fencing maestro Jaime Astarloa is living out his remaining days of quiet desperation with a philosophical stiff upper lip as he watches the way of life he has devoted himself to fade into unlamented obscurity. Don Jaime spends his days teaching bratty aristocrats the art of the sword, an art they appear to no longer need or care about, and marking time with his few acquaintances in the Cafe Progresso; a sad group of ...more
Don Jaime Astarloa has two convictions. The first one is to be a man of honor. The second is the belief that fencing is the ultimate art.

”The pistol is not a weapon, it is an impertinence. If two men are to kill each other, they should do so face-to-face, not from a distance, like vile highwaymen.”

Many people would describe Don Jaime as pompous with his old-fashioned believes. I think it only contributes to the feeling of a living character. Not everyone can be modern and interested in politic a
This book is my first read of Arturo Pérez-Reverte. I got this book from a second hand book and read it without much expectation. I was delighted that I find a good book without influenced by any review, or opinion of other people. I saw movie Scaramouche (1952), and how the protagonist defeated the antagonist by seeking fencing lessons from more senior fencing master. On this book, the main character is a senior fencing master, so seeing the story from a master of fencing POV is interesting.

I w
Bryan Frink
"The Fencing Master" by Arturo Perez-Reverte is a throwback to another time... in fact, even within the 1868 time setting of the story, the protagonist (a fencing master, go figure) is a throwback to another time, an era of pure honor and purer scruples. Of course, such an era has never existed, but within any moment there exist those Quixotic souls who live as if one might transcend the hungry groveling of politics, economics and sexuality.

Such behavior may be fantasy, but in my opinion so are
Mar 11, 2011 Jorge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arturo Pérez-Reverte es uno de mis escritores favoritos y quizás uno de los mejores escritores españoles vivos.

De formación periodista, pero con vocación de historiador y novelista, Pérez-Reverte tiene una facilidad envidiable para trasladarnos a la España del siglo XVII (el capitán Alatriste), la rebelión española contra Napoleón (Un día de cólera) o en el Madrid de mediados del siglo XIX, que es donde está ambientado El maestro de esgrima. Si bien su capacidad para evocar lugares, ambientes, s
Feb 17, 2009 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Don Jaime Astarloa is the one of the last of a noble, dying breed. As a master of the art of fencing, he lives his life by the rules of the blade, a code of conduct that centers around honorable swordsmanship and fair play. With modern weapons like the pistol gaining popularity, there is little interest in fencing, but Don Jaime is able to eke out a meager living teaching his art to the sons of the aristocracy. It is 1866, and Madrid is facing a storm of political upheaval as Queen Isabella II's ...more
Jun 13, 2007 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teeangers, swashbuckling lit fans
This one is quite simple and straight forward. I might recommend it for a young adult who likes adventure stories. I just felt like it gave into stereotypes and predictability a little too much. Perez-Reverte has something of an obsession with the Dark Lady character out to destroy the man in love with her. Nowhere is that more prominent than in this novel. Usually it's woven in enough that it doesn't bother me, but having read his other ones and then read this one? It just made me roll my eyes ...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
A fairly good book. The story developed slowly but eventually picked up. The book tells tge story of a fencing master Don Jamie, one of the few, living in the civil war period. He is approached by a young seniorita, with in depth knowledge on the art of fencing.

He reluctantly accepts her as her student. Soon after, another client of his is murdered. The Marquis, Don Luis, who dies just after becoming intimate with the seniorita. Other murders follow soon.

Who is killing all these people? This i
Mar 16, 2007 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally discovered Arturo Perez-Reverte through Johnny Depp’s film The Ninth Gate (based on Perez-Reverte’s book The Club Dumas). I was quickly enamored with his writing, which is fluid, descriptive, and intrinsically character based. My only complaint with The Club Dumas was the ending. I felt that Perez-Reverte had failed to give enough attention to completing his antiquarian book thriller, leaving the reader wanting for a better conclusion.

When I picked up The Fencing Master, I expected
Emily Selleck
There are a couple of reasons this isn't getting one star. The first is the writing. I will admit that there were moments that the writing in this book was beautiful and I have to give the author credit where credit is due. The other is my understanding that a lot of my dissatisfaction with the story has to do with the fact that I am not a Spanish native. It is my understanding that this book was written by a native of Spain and translated (quite well, I might add) into English. So the reference ...more
Leí este libro hace años, nuevamente, para una clase y aunque no me acuerdo de absolutamente todos los detalles del libro, recuerdo muy bien la línea principal de la historia y sobre todo, recuerdo lo que me hizo sentir y por eso está entre mis favoritos. Fue el primer libro que leí de Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Es una novela de intrigas, habla un poco sobre los valores perdidos (en este caso, la esgrima y el honor) pero principalmente es una novela de misterio (y un poco histórica) en la que termina i
Il maestro di scherma è il primo libro che leggo di Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Sullo sfondo di una Spagna agitata da congiure e intrighi, l’autore ci racconta una storia tinta di giallo e di sangue, di velata seduzione e di passioni; la lettura è scorrevole, la trama, non impeccabile, presenta una dose di suspence minima ma apprezzabile e riserva comunque qualche sorpresa nel finale. I protagonisti sono ben delineati e spiccano per il carattere forte e d’altri tempi!

Un libro piacevole, da consigliare
Jan 25, 2017 Ernesto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most wonderful mystery/crime novels ever written in Spanish language, hands down. A MUST READ if I ever saw one.
Carlos Moreno
Tras leer el libro y analizar mis sensaciones he de decir que siento un sabor agridulce. La trama del libro y el tema son interesantes pero hay ciertas cosas que no me han gustado. Vayamos por partes:

Lo bueno:

+ El tema de la esgrima es, de por sí, muy interesante.

+ El autor habla de la esgrima en términos muy técnicos. Se ve que se ha documentado bien. Esto creo que es una constante en los libros de Pérez-Reverte (no olvidemos su pasado periodístico) y se me viene a la mente, por ejemplo, "La ta
The reason I will remember this novel; the aspect that further adds to its mystique and suapensful quality is the author's extensive and obviously erudite knowledge regarding the ancient art of fencing. From the history of the antiquated sport in Spain to its development into the Italian, French, and German schools of fencing, from the classical to modern styles, from the most sophisticated positions to the times most opportune in parrying, the behind-the-scenes glimpse was truly remarkable.

Sep 13, 2016 Edgars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Šīs grāmatas latvisko tulkojumu "Paukošanas skolotājs" atradu savā grāmatplauktā, Alīna pirms gadiem esot nopirkusi par latu. Beidzot kāda īsta grāmata pēc ilga pārtraukuma, kurā lasīju tikai e-grāmatas savā Kindles lietotnē.

Sākumā grāmata likās ne pārāk interesanta. Paralēli galvenajam stāstam par paukošanos pārlieku daudz bija atkāpes par Spānijas vēsturi, politisko stāvokli darbības risināšanās laikā un tamlīdzīgām lietām, kas mani absolūti neinteresē, brīžiem tas pat sāka likties kaitinoši,
Sep 30, 2008 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Emily
I enjoyed this, but I've never been terribly huge on long discourses on politics and the first half of this book really suffers from the characters discussing politics...a lot. That combined with a lot of technical fencing passages and I wasn't sure if I'd actually enjoy this, and I've actually practiced fencing but even understanding the terms and scenes I still was a bit bored by the technicalities.

It took about half the novel for the murder to actually occur, and things really got interesting
Na minha opinião, pouco há a dizer sobre este livro, e isto não é propriamente negativo. Trata-se de uma história cuja acção decorre em Madrid, no séc. XIX, que desenvolve numa história de intriga política e policial. Não considero que seja uma obra brilhante - apesar de ser ela a responsável pela carreira internacional de Pérez-Reverte, segundo a contracapa do livro - mas também não é propriamente uma história de deitar fora. Peca apenas em dois aspectos: em primeiro lugar o contexto histórico ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Gaspar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: spanish
I read this book in Spanish. This is the fourth Perez Reverte book I've read and once again he doesn't dissapoint. His writing is more in line with English/American authors than with traditional Spanish ones. In this book the author is more instrospective and develops the character of the protagonist in precise detail. You get to appreciate him for what he is, even if you don't completely agree with him. A lot of historical references regarding Spain can make it a little confusing if you do wish ...more
Good, but not great. Perhaps if I knew more about Spanish history in the mid to late 1800s, I would not have had to read so slowly to figure out who was doing what. Was surprised to see it was written in 1988. Had the literary style of an earlier era - rather liked that! However, not being interested in the details of fencing, I skipped over the many descriptions of the techniques. Also, I felt that only the characters of Don Jaime and Adela de Otero were developed enough to come alive. Because ...more
KC Anton
Pe`rez-Reverte describes historical people and actions in a very down-to-earth way in Spain of the late 1860's. We see Old World and New century changes in war, politics, and romance from the Fencing Master's aged point of view. Realizing he is from a world of honor and tradition you gain the stylized view of life as a game or fencing tradition—which has rules. The problem; life has no rules. The story starts slowly, as does life, and ends quickly, passionately, and possibly with no more meaning ...more
Mar 06, 2015 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
You'd think I'd love historical fiction or fiction with a strong historical bent, but that would often not be the case, although occasionally I do find a really good one. In the case of this novel, I knew so little about the Spanish Glorious Revolution against Isabel II that many of the references and individuals simply didn't mean much to me, and I am really not all that interested in the minutia of fencing. Further still I found the story a tad predictable, though there were some very good lin ...more
Nov 29, 2013 CatarinaG rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: em-pt, english
Jaime de Astarloa, mestre de esgrima, vê-se envolvido numa complicada história de intriga. Uma mulher quer, com ele, aprender uma 'estocada' especial e mortal... criação do mestre.
A acção situa-se na Madrid de Isabel II, na segunda metade do século XIX, antes da primeira República.

A partir de certa altura começou a ser óbvio, pelo menos para mim, qual o objectivo de Adela de Otero mas isso deve ser por ser grande fã de Reverte... ;)
Acho tão interessante como este escritor fala de cada tema dos s
Aug 02, 2015 Elisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me ha recordado mucho a los Episodios Nacionales de Pérez Galdós. Con personajes interesantes y una buena descripción de la España de la época - ojalá hubiera yo puesto más atención en las clases de historia del cole, ahora hubiera entendido más, que ya no recuerdo nada. Mucho mejor que la peli, el ritmo es rápido y se lee con facilidad. Las descripciones, el ambiente y el contexto histórico me interesaron tanto, que la parte policíaca sólo fue la guinda. Una novela histórica muy entretenida.
Miguel Gutierrez
arturo perez-reverte se ha vuelto un autor que no falla para mi. sus libros son misterios envueltos de historia pero sin tratar de aparentar ser algo mas que eso, en veces eso es lo que uno necesita.
Mar 12, 2014 Jeremy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not blown away, and I'll probably forget about this before I eat breakfast. Kind of a funny ending.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
So in this book I was presented with two subjects in which I was either woefully ignorant or totally clueless: the art of fencing and an 1868 Spanish overthrow of Queen Isabell II. I think my understanding would have been enhanced had I known more about fencing, so I was surprised to find myself deciding it didn't matter. While I understood some of the fencing terms generally, mostly I came to see the discipline required to excel and that it has a long tradition. This is overlaid upon the coming ...more
German Sanchez Collado
Una novela entretenida. Un personaje fiel a sus valores y su forma de entender la vida aun a riesgo de no fluir con el ritmo de su tiempo. Tanto el libro como la película son entretenidos.

Me quedo con este párrafo:

"Los ojos acuosos lo miraron fijamente.

- Hay en usted algo de... De inocencia, a ver si me entiende. Quiero decir que su comportamiento podría compararse, salvando las distancias, al de un monje de clausura que de pronto se viera envuelto en el torbellino del mundo. ¿Me sigue? Usted di
Covadonga Mendoza
A punto de darle cuatro estrellas por lo bien estructurada y documentada que está. Un ejemplo de cómo se debe ambientar y documentar una novela ambientada en épocas históricas pasadas, y cómo hacer que la propia Historia forme parte de la trama principal novelesca de forma natural.
Sin embargo, la novela tarda en arrancar, aunque entiendo que el autor pretende hacer un retrato del maestro de armas y de su forma de ser y pensar, que tiene relación con el resto de hechos, además de introducirnos e
Jan 25, 2017 Boni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little lost in the politics of Spain at the time... that knowledge would likely have helped me get caught up in the cultural tensions of that time. Also, not being a fencing aficionado, I didnt fully appreciate the nuances of the chess-like approach to the whole dance of parrying and thrusting. Not a lot of surprises in the story, and the 'oh my' solution, and the ending seemed a little weak to me. Preferred the Dumas Club more, but Arturo Perez-Reverte's writing is very enjoyable, so I' ...more
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