Sunday, June 15, 2008

The King’s Gold-Arturo Perez-Reverte

The King’s Gold
Arturo Perez-Reverte
Putnam, Aug 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155109

In 1626 Seville, everyone who is anyone waits for the annual treasure ships to begin to arrive at the port. Although a festive feel hangs all over the city as the vessels represent how powerful Spain is and how proud the Spaniards are of their nation, some of the royal inner sanction will steal for their personal use; others will challenge their actions trying to insure the booty makes it into the treasury.

In that gala atmosphere, a bone weary Captain Diego Alatriste and his associate Inigo Balboa arrive exhausted from a recent siege (see THE SUN OVER BREDA). Exhausted they need money as living in the city when the treasure ships arrive is exorbitant; the merchants and shop owners charge two arms and two legs for everything. However when King Phillip IV, concerned with looting when the nation needs the treasury to finance its world domination especially in the Americas, orders Alatriste to seize a cache of gold to place in the royal coffers. Hiring street thugs, Alatriste and his dirty dozen or so masquerade as pirates as they invade the gold ship. There they find waiting is Alatriste's long time enemy Gualterio Malatesta and a horde of mercenaries who beat them to the vessel.

This seventeenth century swashbuckler is an excellent action-packed thriller in which the escapades keep on coming yet the Captain, his prime antagonist and several other key players come across as fully developed. The story line is fast-paced yet provides a fascinating look at Spain at the height of its power as this is the country’s Golden Age and for us fans of this superb series a rebirth of the Dumas golden age.

Harriet Klausner