Michael Sedano's Reviews > The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet

The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
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Feb 17, 2010

really liked it
Read in February, 2010

Arturo Pérez-Reverte fills this fifth Captain Alatriste / Íñigo Balboa novel with the literary ambience of sixteenth century Madrid, less with the swashbuckling action that made earlier Alatriste novels happy exciting reads.

As the title suggests, the King plays a central role in the regicide plot. The womanizing Phillip IV becomes Alatriste's rival for the same woman, putting the Captain on the collision course plot that ends well, but by the skin of his teeth.

Sadly, the novel bogs down after the first swordfight in the opening pages, but picks up as now-16 year old Balboa accompanies playwright Francisco de Quevedo into the royal apartments, as the artist's scribe. There, Íñigo finally enjoys the pleasures of his scheming paramour and maid-in-waiting to the Queen, Angélica de Alquézar, along with her dagger in his back. Love hurts, the young man learns.

The evil nemesis Gualterio Malatesta returns to the scene, first escaping Alatriste's hands, later capturing Alatriste intending to toss the soldier to the Inquisition's chief torturer and frame the Captain as regicide.

Readers familiar with Arturo Pérez-Reverte's earlier works will enjoy the character development of storyteller Balboa. A homeless ruffian, boy-soldier, his master Alatriste ensures the boy takes a classical education at the feet of acknowledged literary lions, hence these novels, told by an aged Íñigo decades past the events of the novels.

Those not yet acquainted with Pérez-Reverte's Golden Age of Spain novels owe themselves a treat by reading the series in any sequence. Each comprises a stand-alone story, with Balboa's narration linking elements from earlier and, presumably, future tales. In the current volume, Margaret Jull Costa proffers an outstanding translation that reads smoothly absent cultural lacunae that mar so many translated-from works.

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