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"He was not the most honest of men, nor the most pious one, but he was a brave man."
Íñigo de Balboa, The Adventures of Captain Alatriste

The Adventures of Captain Alatriste is a series of novels written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte starring a Spanish soldier-turned-mercenary-turned-sword-for-hire, the titular Diego Alatriste y Tenorio (who was never an actual Captain in the Army, but was called that way). Alatriste is a veteran of the Flanders War that lives badly in 17th-century Europe, looking for shady jobs and sometimes being lead to international conspiracies involving the Spanish Crown and the Inquisition. At the same time, Alatriste trains a squire, Íñigo de Balboa, the orphan child of an old friend; Íñigo serves as the narrator of the story. The series includes adventures and noir in a well-researched historical setting.

Seven books have been published so far, with two more in the making:

  • Captain Alatriste (1996): In 1623, Alatriste is trusted to take care of the young Íñigo while he awaits in Madrid to rejoin his division on Flanders. In order to make money, he accepts an offer to kill two English travellers that are about to arrive on the city, but the situation soon spirals our of control.
  • Purity of Blood (1997): Alatriste is hired by a family of conversos (descendants of Jews converted to Catholicism) to rescue their daughter from a convent she was forced to join, while poor Íñigo gets into a conflict with The Spanish Inquisition.
  • The Sun over Breda (1998): It's 1625 and both Alatriste and Íñigo as his squire travel to the front on Flanders, as an offensive is planned over the Dutch-held city of Breda. Looked down by some fans for its Unexpected Genre Change, as it's more of a war story with little resemblance to the swashbuckling theme of the first two books.
  • The King's Gold (2000): Arriving in Seville from Flanders, Alatriste is hired to lead a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits against a docked Flemish ship that is suspected of smugling Indian gold out of Spain.
  • The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet (2003): Back in Madrid, Alatriste begins a relationship with the famous theatre actress María de Castro, but soon becomes enbroiled in a fight with a mysterious cavalier for the love of the actress and a wider conspiracy against the Spanish Monarchy.
  • Corsairs of the Levant (2008): Alatriste and Íñigo join the galleys of the Levant in their struggle against the Ottoman Turks, leading them to an adventure all over the Mediterranean.
  • The Bridge of the Assassins (2011): Christmas 1627. Alatriste must join forces with an old enemy in a cover mission to kill the Dogue of Venice.
  • Alquézar's Revenge (unreleased)
  • Mission in Paris (unreleased): Presumed to be set against the backdrop of the 1643 Battle of Rocroi and culminate with Alatriste's death

There is also a movie, starring Viggo Mortensen, that tries to condense the nine plots all at once.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: And the lower nobles the worst of all. The Count of Guadalmedina is an exception.
  • Badass Mustache: Just look at the image, damn it!
  • Badass Spaniard
  • Beard of Evil: Alquézar.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Angélica de Alquézar.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: In the movie, and confirmed by Word of God for the books. It's just that the author has not bothered to write the scene down yet.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The movie is mostly a cut-and-paste job of elements from all the books. Which means that unlike in the individual books (which all had interesting plots), we don't actually get an engaging plot, just a selection of set pieces (it's as if the movie was a series of illustrations for the novels).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Someone insulted you? Kill him! You think someone insulted you? Kill him! You pretend someone insulted you because someone else paid you to kill the first someone? ¡No queda sino batirnos!
  • Edutainment Show: The series was created by the author to teach his teen daughter about the Spanish Golden Age, with each book being devoted to one aspect of it. In the published books, these are respectively Politics, Religion, the Flanders War, Economics, Theatre, the low-scale Forever War against the Turks in the Mediterranean and the long time love/hate relationship between Spain and the Republic of Venice.
  • Eighty Years War
  • Evil Counterpart: Gualterio Malatesta is basically Alatriste without the Screw the Money, I Have Rules part.
  • Famous Ancestor: A joke in the later books reveals that Alatriste is a grand-nephew of Don Juan Tenorio (the author had in fact chosen Tenorio as Alatriste's mother's family name in homage to Don Juan, when he was writing the first book).
    • Note that in the original legend (and especially Zorrilla's play Don Juan Tenorio, which is the one most Spaniards are familiar with), Don Juan is just as famous as a duelist as a, er, "seducer", so this also works as a sort of In the Blood for Alatriste.
  • Fille Fatale: Angélica de Alquézar, becoming also a Rich Bitch as she grows up.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Íñigo Balboa y Aguirre, the young Basque squire of Alatriste, is the first person narrator of each of the books.
  • Historical Domain Character: Lots of them.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Alatriste.
  • Historical In-Joke: The Sun over Breda has one about how this painting was made (and why Alatriste does not appear on it).
  • Homage Shot: In the movie, the scene of the surrender of Breda is modelled after Velazquez's famous painting.
  • Honor Before Reason: Many, many times.
  • Improvised Weapon: Shwasbucklers use their cape both as a weapon (throwing it over the opponent's sword to destabilize him or over his head) and as a shield. This is historically accurate.
  • It Got Worse: The movie is one long series of misfortunes for Alatriste and just about everybody connected with him.
  • King Incognito: The point over what two of the books revolve The Englishman that Alatriste is hired to kill in Captain Alatriste is the Prince of Walles and future king Charles I of England travelling in disguise, and Alatriste's rival for the actress' love in The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet is none other but Philip IV of Spain.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: "Your king is your king" (even if he is a jackass).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: María de Castro is a rather obvious stand-in for the real actress María Calderón with a few changes for story purposes.
  • Precision F-Strike: Several instances. It's also pointed out in the first book that sailors learn insults phonetically in other languages to shout at the opponent before the expected Boarding Party.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Alatriste is paid to slay two men but refuses when the first one he is about to kill begs him to spare his companion. This makes him an enemy of the people who hired him.
  • Shown Their Work
  • Sinister Minister: Inquisitor Bocanegra.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: In the movie. All we see of the battle of Rocroi is about a dozen Spanish foot soldiers and twice as many Frenchmen on horse.
  • Swashbuckler
  • The Cavalier Years
  • The Film of the Book: Alatriste (2006), starring Viggo Mortensen.
  • The Gump: Meeting several historical characters, taking a part in historical events.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Inquisitor Bocanegra. Literally.
  • The Spanish Inquisition: Of course.
  • Toros Y Flamenco: Justified and done correctly. The second book opens with a 17th century historically accurate bullfight that does not look like modern ones in the less. It is absent in the other books.
    • Despite gypsies having arrived in Spain by that time, even The King's Gold (which is set in Seville) is historically accurate in lacking any mention of flamenco.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Since they are told by a "contemporary" narrator, the original books are in Old Spanish, often with words that are rare or no longer used today, and 17th-century slang popping out constantly in the dialogue. Not to mention the parts written in other languages without translation provided, such as Portuguese or even Germanía - an argot of the criminal underworld that has been dead for centuries. As expected, the series is a pain in the ass for proffesional translators.
  • Warrior Poet: Don Francisco de Quevedo.
  • Young Future Famous People: Velazquez is first introduced as a young painter just arrived from Seville that Quevedo likes to mock.
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