Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Fencing Master, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

The Fencing Master, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

In The Club Dumas, Pérez-Reverte crafted a mystery with book sellers and lost manuscripts; here, the adventure revolves around fencing and 19th-century Spanish politics. Don Jaime Astarloa is the fencing master of the title, an older man who is expert in a dying art. A mysterious woman appears and wants to be taught the killing thrust for which he is famous, and his life starts to spiral out of control after that. Mix in secret political documents, a throne in jeopardy, and a noble man living in the past and an exciting thriller begins to unfold.

The Fencing Master was both captivating and well-written, but I simply don’t know enough about fencing to be drawn in to the obviously well-researched sections. I could follow the duels and the intensity of the fights came through well, but I suspect that there was an artistry that would have been more poignant if I was better versed in swordsmanship. I still loved the book, however, and look forward to others by this author!

First Sentence:
Much later, when Jaime Astarloa wanted to piece together the scattered fragments of the tragedy and tried to remember how it all began, the first image that came to his mind was of the marquis and of the gallery in the palace overlooking the Retiro Gardens, with the first heat of summer streaming in through the windows, accompanied by such brilliant sunlight that they had to squint against the dazzle on the polished guards of their foils.

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