Тhe fifth novel in the adventures of Captain Alatriste, a seventeenth-century swashbuckler and "a twenty-first-century literary phenomenon."Entertainment Weekly
In the cosmopolitan world of seventeenth-century Madrid, captain Alatriste and his protégé Íñigo are fish out of water. But the king is determined to keep Alatriste on retainer-regardless of whether his "employment" brings the captain uncomfortably close to old enemies. Alatriste begins an affair with the famous and beautiful actress, María Castro, but soon discovers that the cost of her favors may be more than he bargained for-especially when he and Íñigo become unwilling participants in a court conspiracy that could lead them both to the gallows . . .
From Publishers Weekly
The swashbuckling spirit of Rafael Sabatini lives on in Perez-Reverte's fifth installment to the adventures of the 17th-century Spanish swordsman, Capt. Diego Alariste. The novel finds Diego back in Madrid, where even the slightest personal affront can lead to a clash of blades. Accompanied, as usual, by his loyal young servant, Iñigo Balboa Aguirre, and his friend, the poet and playwright Francisco de Quevedo, Diego learns that both he and King Philip IV are rivals for the attentions of the married actress Maria de Costa, who has many other suitors lined up at her dressing room door. Not even a death threat can scare off the ardent captain, who becomes a pawn in an old enemy's dastardly plot to assassinate the king. Richly atmospheric and alive with the sights, sounds and smells of old Madrid, this tale of derring-do is old-fashioned fun. It's elegantly written and filled with thrilling swordplay and hairbreadth escapes—escapist books don't get much better than this.