ISBN: 0399156038 isbn13: 9780399156038
Happily serendipitously, my tour of Pasadena Public Library's New Book Shelf turned up a "new" Captain Alatriste novel. But curiously, I learned the "new" label is a bit misleading, as the book has a 2003 copyright from a G.P. Putnam's Sons edition. One day, perhaps, I'll make sense of the publishing industry's vagaries. I had not seen the novel heretofore, so it's new enough for my eyes, perhaps yours.
If it's new to you, you're sure to enjoy it. If you read it in 2003, you've already dug it, and can leave a comment below how you took to the story. Arturo Pérez-Reverte fills this fifth Captain Alatriste / Íñigo Balboa novel with the literary ambience of seventeenth century Madrid, less with the swashbuckling action that made earlier Alatriste novels happy exciting page-turning 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. Alatriste, bound hand and foot, beaten bloody by hired swords, looks to be at his last gasp. Even Malatesta shudders at thoughts of what the Inquisitor can do.
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. Start with this one, or go to the first. Any sequence works. 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.
Honoring Black History Month. Self-published collection, "Nigger for Life."
When I was in first grade, a clueless child from Arkansas named Ramsey threatened every kid he met with the same refrain, "I'm gonna shoot you with my nigger shooter!" When it was my turn, my response was "that's a sling shot, what's a 'nigger shooter?'" Redlands CA in the 1950s. Gente in my family and in the neighborhood didn't use that word so it was new to me. "You're a nigger," Ramsey informed me, brandishing the weapon. I decided against kicking his ass, instead electing to ignore Ramsey for the rest of his life. Menso Ramsey then thought to menace Lonnie Washington with the stick. Lonnie, one of the tinto kids at Lugonia School evidently had a keen sense of outrage. Lonnie beat the crap out of Ramsey, breaking Ramsey's sling shot in the process. That was the first time I understood just how offensive some words can prove to the wrong audience.
The issue rose its voice last week at La Bloga when a commenter noted, in an unfelicitous manner lacking context, that some folks used "nigger" as a badge of pride. All Hell broke loose in the comments section, some comments reflecting affront, others curiosity, some I thought, verged on a Lonnie Washington response.
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