One advantage to shelving books is occasionally coming across new titles by favorite authors that you missed when they first came out. I have enjoyed Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste series since the eponymous title was published in 2005. I had, however, let the books slip to the back of my mind, so I was delighted to be reminded of this excellent series when I came across the fourth entry, The King’s Gold.
Like the early books in the series, The King’s Gold features plenty of swordplay in the streets of 17th-century Seville, but there is more to these books than just flashing rapiers. Alatriste and his protégé, young Iñigo Balboa, are back from the wars in Breda, no richer for the wounds they received and with little expectation of recognition from the Spanish court for their service. But Alatriste’s friend, poet and courtier Francisco de Quevedo Villegas, greets the pair on their return with an offer that might earn them both gold and honor.
King Philip IV and his chief minister are unhappy with the smuggling of gold into Spain from the South American mines, and Alatriste is commissioned to recruit a band of swordsmen to see that a large shipment of contraband gold is brought to the royal authorities. Iñigo is more mature here, and takes his place in the fighting. There is also an elegiac feel to the tale, as death seems to follow in the wake of the Captain and his band, and references are made to Alatriste’s own death on the field of Rocroi sometime down the road.
But, as Iñigo says, that is all in the future, and the tale of assembling the company and taking over a ship carrying the gold is told in Pérez-Reverte’s superbly lyrical style. With fragments of poetry and a strong sense of place, Pérez-Reverte creates a completely believable world. Readers who are looking for stories of honor, friendship, and action will find much to like here.
Check the WRL catalog for The King’s Gold