This is the second book in Alatriste series, perfect to attend the decay of the biggest Empire in the world (Spain, of course) hand in hand with our captain Alatriste, who is hesitating in this book whether or not re-join the army, this time with his young squire, Íñigo.
Before making a decision, don Francisco de Quevedo asks Alatriste for help in an affair: they want to rescue a nun, the daughter of an honourable gentleman, Quevedo’s friend, from a nunnery in which the chaplain seems not to obey his vow of celibacy correctly. But in the assault, it turns out that not only was the young girl waiting to be rescued, but also the Inquisition appeared in the nunnery, as well as the best villain ever, Gualterio Malatesta, to catch Alatriste and his friends. In the fight at night, they manage to capture Íñigo and lead him to the Inquisition prison in Toledo, were the possibilities after your confession were two: to burn on a bonfire, or to be hunged and then burned on a bonfire.
In this part of the series Pérez-Reverte shows our lovely and morality-concerned Inquisition, that is able to torture a 13-year-old boy but not with torture implements, of course, until he is 14; and everything is because you have a surname which is suspected to be Jewish, or because you don’t seem to be an old Christian, which means that perhaps your great-grandparent was not a Christian, no matter if you go to a Catholic church every Sunday because you really believe in it. Even the most powerful people could do nothing against the Holy Office.
I didn’t expect Íñigo to be the center of attention in this book, but he really is an interesting main character because he knows nobody can help him but nevertheless he doesn’t betray captain Alatriste and, to our relief, from the beginning of the series we know that Íñigo is telling us the whole story when he is an adult, later on.
Just like the first book of the series, this has been a gripping story with an excellent narrative style, so if you are looking for a terrific cast of characters (real and imaginary ones), sword fights and the most evil villain ever, you won’t be disappointed with our captain Alatriste.
See you in the next book in Flanders!
I have been reading this book with Leander since we both wanted to read this saga, and it has been a great experience, as always. I won’t forget “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition”. Thanks Leander!
- Leander’s review of Purity of blood