Friday, April 3, 2009

Review: Purity of Blood

Purity of Blood

Paperback, 267 pages
Publisher: Plume
Cover Design: Artists Rights Society
Release Date: November 28, 2006
ISBN-10: 0-452287987
ISBN-13: 978-0452287987

Recently, I’ve been interested in reading more historical fiction so last fall I picked up Captain Alatriste, the first book in a series by Arturo Perez-Reverte, on the strength of several recommendations. Unfortunately, the book failed to grab me. Last week I decided to give the series another chance and bought the second book, Purity of Blood. I’m glad that I did.

Purity of Blood picks up about a year after the events in Captain Alatriste. The narrator, Inigo Balboa, is now nearly fourteen years old and is still serving the swordsman-for-hire, Diego Alatriste. A friend of the captain comes to hire him to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young woman being held against her will. The family has no legal recourse because the head priest has threatened to expose them as being of Jewish descent. In 17th Century Spain, this is tantamount to a death sentence. However, the plan goes awry and Alatriste and company are quickly caught up in a much higher struggle for power.

I have to say I really enjoyed Purity of Blood much more than the first book. My main complaint with Captain Alatriste was that it did not have enough of a plotline for the story. The plot quickly petered out and the rest of the book was filled with a narrative exposition on the political and cultural background. I love reading about history, but generally I don’t find it a good idea to tell a story this way.

The good news is that I did have to worry about this problem with the second book. Though the plotline slowed down a bit, it did continue all the way to the end. The ending ended up being a little anti-climatic, however, it worked for the story that the author was telling. I also liked that the poetry segments were far fewer in number this time around. I’ve never been a fan of verse and the Captain Alatriste seemed to have way too much of it.

Overall, Purity of Blood is a good historical fiction novel and definitely better than the first Alatriste book in the series. Recommended.

Rating: 8/10

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