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Purity of Blood: The Adventures of Captain Alatriste    by Arturo Pérez-Reverte order for
Purity of Blood
by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

When the body of a strangled woman is found seated in a chair in front of a church in 1623, Captain Diego Alatriste, not yet aware of the murder, has no idea that the woman's death will figure prominently in his next adventure.

The fearless Alatriste, 'Madrid's most charismatic swashbuckler' in Arturo Pérez-Reverte's scintillating series of flamboyant entertainments, has been approached by Francisco de Quevedo - a poet and swordsman of considerable reputation. Together, the two adventurers have been asked by Vincente de la Cruz to break into a convent and rescue his young daughter, Elvira.

The problems involved in the young woman's rescue are numerous. The priest who runs the convent, Father Juan Coroada, is powerfully connected to prominent persons in the government; moreover, both Alatriste and Quevedo know that the penalty of such brash bravado will be death because of the heresy perpetrated on sacred grounds, but they are ultimately undeterred. After all, honor and adventure are at stake.

Further complicating matters, and making the young woman's rescue more urgent, the lascivious priest Coroada has a reputation for immoral sexual conduct, and he reportedly uses the convent as his private seraglio by persuading the naďve novitiates that intimacies and unchaste acts with him are, in reality, pathways to their acceptance by God.

So, despite the dangers, and because they know that they are living in a 'society in which religion and immorality {go} hand in hand,' Alatriste and Quevedo set their noble plan into motion. Accompanied by a small corps of brave confederates, including Alatriste's thirteen-year-old associate, Íńigo Balboa, the rescuers make their move. However, something goes terribly wrong. Someone has forewarned the officials, and a trap awaits them at the convent.

With young Balboa captured, and with Elvira de la Cruz also being placed into custody, Alatriste now faces one of his biggest and most dangerous challenges. He must confront, outwit, and defeat the most powerful and corrupt force in all of 17th century Spain - The Inquisition. And he must succeed quickly or the Inquisitors' hostages will be burned at the stake because of accusations that they are of impure Jewish bloodlines.

Filled with exciting action, historical details, and poetic intensity, Pérez-Reverte's Purity of Blood succeeds on many levels: it is top-notch adventure, gripping suspense, a historical novel, and fine literature all rolled into one, wonderful thrill-ride. Read it soon, and find out why Time said that it is 'hardboiled, mordantly funny, {and} unapologetically entertaining.'

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