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Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Captain Alatriste is an ex-soldier sword for hire in 17th-century Spain. His story is told by Inigo Balboa, who is his 13-year old page at the time of the telling of this story, and the son of one of Alatriste's comrades killed during the war. Alatriste is hired to steal money and documents from two English travelers, identified only as Mr. Smiths, but to leave them unharmed. That order is then countermanded by the leader of the Inquisition who orders him to kill both travelers. Alatriste finds the men to be something more than ordinary Englishmen, and sparing their lives makes him new allies and new enemies. Arturo Perez-Reverte re-creates the swashbuckling era of Spain and Captain Alatriste is the first book in a series. It has received positive reviews with the New York Times saying, "Equipped with a quick-witted, charismatic hero and much to provoke and goad him, Mr. Perez-Reverte has the makings of a flamboyantly entertaining series. Captain Alatriste ends with a wicked flourish, an evil laugh and a strong likelihood that the best is yet to come."