Ensiform's Reviews > The Sun Over Breda

The Sun Over Breda by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
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Jul 12, 12

bookshelves: fiction, historical, spanish
Read in January, 2010

In this, third installment of the Captain Alatriste series, the Spanish are in Flanders. It opens with the taking and looting of Oudkerk, leads to a potential mutiny, and ends with a bloody battle at the siege of Breda. It sounds like a soldier’s chronicle, and that’s just what it is.

I was disappointed with this novel. Gone is the swashbuckling element from the first book (and to a lesser degree the second). There’s very little personal element and no character development, just ruminations on Spain’s declining glory and the gritty realities of being a soldier in a seventeenth-century war of religion and territory. There are good scenes, just as the desultory execution of a wounded prisoner, or the meeting with Diego Velasquez in the epilogue, but no plot to speak of. The events are largely disjointed as Captain Alatriste participates as a simple soldier, led by his "betters," in a number of engagements and a duel. Balboa gets himself into a scrape and Alatriste gets him out. Alatriste gets offered an opportunity to undertake a duel for the honor of Spain and demurs, and the Spanish press their siege of Breda while despoiling the country as only an army can. We see battles up close, but Captain Alatriste’s personal story – his loves, his enemies – is seemingly on hiatus. Perhaps the next book will bring him back to court and its life-or-death intrigues.
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