Thursday, May 18, 2006

Perez-Reverte: Purity of Blood

As I promised a while back, I have read the second book in the Captain Alatriste series: Arturo Perez-Reverte's Purity of Blood. I enjoyed it very much; it is more evenly paced than the first book.

Alatriste's colleague, don Francisco de Quevedo, asks his help to aid a friend--a nobleman who has heard rumors that the convent in which his daughter is a novitiate is actually a seraglio for the confessor priest. The nobleman and his two sons propose to storm the convent and rescue her, accompanied by de Quevedo, Alatriste, and Inigo Balboa, Alatriste's ward and the first-person narrator of the novel. Things do not go as planned, the Inquisition gets involved (hence the book's title), and the bad guys seem to have the upper hand until--! But you probably know the genre and the fact that the first person narrator is speaking from later in his life makes it clear that things will end well, at least for some of the characters. While not descending into Disnified endings (unlikely from what I've read of Perez-Reverte), this novel stays true to the genre in having things work out for our swashbuckling heroes.

The book moves along faster than the first one, which I felt dragged in the middle. There are still quite a few explanations along the lines of "Such was our glorious Spain in those days, glittering yet corrupt" etc., which are less intrusive than they were in the first novel but I still caught myself skimming over them. However, this novel contains a great "sig-file" quote: "Never trust a man who reads only one book." I almost made it the masthead quote on this blog, and may still do so. And the last scene is letter-perfect--funny, dashing, and enjoyable. Purity of Blood is worth reading just for the last chapter.

If you want something long and meaty, a book to savor as you go, this probably isn't a good buy right now--it's actually quite short. I enjoyed it, and I will keep reading the Alatriste books, but I may end up buying them in paperback. It's hard to justify hardback price for a novella (although I seem to talk myself into it for Robert B. Parker novels).

I would like to take a moment to discuss perception. I have noticed that people generally think that their chicken salad is the best. This is because everyone will make it to his or her own taste: people who like sweet salads use fruit and Miracle Whip, people who like tangy salads use herbs and mayonaisse. I'm firmly in the savory camp myself, and my chicken salad is (suprise!) the best I've ever had.

Chicken Salad:
2 cups shredded rotisserie-cooked chicken (buy it from the deli and use the leftovers in something else)
1 cup finely-diced celery
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonaisse (you'll want more if you use low-fat, less if you use regular mayo)
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp white wine Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan.
2-4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and serve. This is excellent on toasted bread, but you can also serve it over fresh tomato wedges or in warm pita bread.

So, should I change my masthead, or just put "Never trust a man who reads only one book" in my sig file? Comments?


Blogger slowgirl said...

Hi brackman, I would say add the quote to your masthead. BTW I am reading The Geographer's Library right now, enjoying it very much, and Checkmate (the last of the Lymond books) just came in at the library for me. I'm looking forward to that one very much. The Lymond chronicles have grown on me over the course of the series - I found the first book practically incomprehensible (although I'm well-acquainted with the history of the period), but got hooked in the final courtoom scene. Books 2 and 3 were uneven - my attention wandered partway through each but then got hooked again at the end. Books 4 and 5 were very compelling - the addition of Phillipa Somerville really brought them to life. So I'm keen to read the conclusion. Thanks for pointing the way to them!

2:40 PM  
Blogger brackman1066 said...

Sorry it took me a while to post that, slowgirl. I've been out of town and our hotel didn't have the internet that it claimed to have.

8:41 AM  

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