As a fan of historical fiction, I really appreciated the opportunity to learn something about the period in which this story takes place. The manners and mores of Spain during the Inquisition came alive for me in this book, which was a blessing, because the plot itself left me underwhelmed.
Captain Alatriste is hired to rescue a young woman from a seraglio masquerading as a convent, but he never gets closer that trying to break in, because his enemies in the Inquisition and the government use the opportunity to try to finish him off.
The inclusion of some of Spain’s most famous poets and politicians of the period enchants, but they are not enough to make up for the main narrator’s irritating habit of moving back and forth through memories of his life as a boy with Captain Alatriste and then as an adult soldier. He seems to come unstuck in time as much as Billy Pilgrim and with less of a reason. He also seems to be a bit of a mind reader, since he correctly describes the feelings of people in situations that take place while he is out of the action.
Even so, the characters are interesting, just not well-served in this book.