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I originally discovered Arturo Perez Reverte through Johnny Depp s film The Ninth Gate based on Perez Reverte s book The Club Dumas I was uickly enad with film The Ninth Gate based on Perez Reverte s book The Club Dumas I was uickly enad with writing which is fluid descriptive and intrinsically character based My only complaint with The Club Dumas was the ending I felt that Perez Reverte had failed to give enough attention to completing his antiuarian book thriller leaving the reader wanting for a better conclusion When I picked up The Fencing Master I expected a repeat of The Club Dumas fantastic style with a disappointing finish To my surprise Perez Reverte pulled together a much satisfying story with a conclusion that was far tidier than the previous novel Set against the backdrop of the 1868 Spanish Revolution Perez Reverte gives us an extremely sympathetic main character in Don Jaime Astarloa An Aging Fencing Master Who Is an aging fencing master who is the demise of not only his profession but his code of ethics as well It s the internal machinations of Don Jaime that drive the novel and gives this story a convincing tone Like The Club Dumas The Fencing Master is well written leisurely paced and thick with vivid descriptions As in the former novel Perez Reverte makes use of a fairly obscure profession to draw the reader into a realistic yet commonly unknown world There are times however when Perez to draw the reader into a realistic yet commonly unknown world There are times however when Perez seems to spend too much space on secondary characters Don Jaime s set of caf companions for example add little value to the overall story Even though one of these characters plays prominently later in the story the numerous scenes with this handful of eccentrics merely drag the plot unnecessarilyNonetheless this one minor complaint is nothing compared to the loosely pulled together ending of The Club Dumas giving The Fencing Master a far entertaining aftertaste Even though I enjoyed the previous novel and the movie it spawned if asked I d have to recommend The Fencing Master to anyone interested in Perez Reverte s work Don Jaime Astarloa is the one of the last of a noble dying breed As a master of the art of fencing he lives his life by the rules of the blade a code of conduct that centers around honorable swordsmanship and fair play With modern weapons like the pistol gaining popularity there is little interest in fencing but Don Jaime is able to eke out a meager living teaching his art to the sons of the aristocracy It is 1866 and Madrid is facing a storm of political upheaval as ueen Isabella II s opponents prepare for a revolution In the midst of these uncertain circumstances a mysterious woman seeks out Don Jaime Her name is Adela de Otero and she desires to learn the art of the unstoppable thrust an arcane swordplay techniue nown only to Don Jaime It is his policy never to teach fencing to women but when she offers him double his usual fee it is an offer he can t refuse Don Jaime soon learns that in addition to being exuisitely beautiful Adela de Otero is also a talented swordswoman and a formidable opponent She possesses a dangerous sort of attraction and she soon begins to awaken Novela de aventuras pero también policiaca de traiciones y maniobras políticas en el Madrid galdosiano de 1868 El maestro de esgrima es. N Don Jaime feelings that he thought he had long left behind in his old age Before he nows it he finds himself in over his head unwittingly embroiled in a political intrigue with potentially dire conseuencesAfter reading and thoroughly enjoying The Flanders Panel I was expecting a lot from this book and ended up feeling ind of let down Don t get me wrong I from this book and ended up feeling ind of let down Don t get me wrong I enjoy it it just didn t live up to my full expectations I really liked Don Jaime s character as well as the femme fatale Adela de Otero However I felt that the plot was rather weak The Big Important Political Secret ended up being sort of anticlimactic and while the final battle between Don Jaime and the villain was exciting it felt like the climax of the story was rather rushed All in all I think that probably sums up the major problem with the bookall of it feels like the author was in a hurry to get it over and done with A lot of potentially interesting details and back story are glossed over without much explanation and that frustrated me Don Jaime Astarloa has two convictions The first one is to be a man of honor The second is the belief that fencing is the ultimate art The pistol is not a weapon it is an impertinence If two men are to ill each other they should do so face to face not from a distance like vile highwaymen Many people would describe Don Jaime as pompous with his old fashioned believes I think it only contributes to the feeling of a living character Not everyone can be modern and interested in politic and gossip even though it is Madrid 1868 a time of turmoil Some people are no doubt like Don Jaime only interested in perserving certain values I have spent my whole life trying to preserve a certain idea of myself and that is all You have to cling to a set of values that do not depreciate with time Everything else is the fashion of the moment fleeting mutable In a word nonsense When Don Jaime unwillingly becomes involved in a complicated mystery and realizes someone is after him he doesn t have a clue what s going on It is when a woman comes into his life that everything changes The fact that he doesn t teach women is according to custom of the time a view he eventually realizes can be changed as other men have Soon he looses himself The picture of anguished produced by his feelings for Donna Adela de Otero is beautifully painted by P rez Reverte He smiled thinking about himself about his own image about his now declining powers about his spirit which though old and tired in some way was spirit which though old and tired in some way was against the indolence imposed on it by the slow degeneration of his physical organism And in that feeling overwhelming him tempting him with its sweet danger he recognized the feeble swan song proffered as a pathetic last ditch rebellion by his still proud spirit Things start to happen around him and he usually detached from the world and living only for fencing is suddenly struggling with a feeling of foreboding of something he should now but doesn t and therefore could be dangerous He refuses to give in to fear and challenge. La historia de un mundo de tahúres y mercachifles mantenido a distancia por un florete honorable Pero es sobre todo una inuietante par?. S the danger He whistles proudly while making coffee to be able to stay awake and wait for the comming strike of the unknown enemy He even look up a few lines of a book he has underlined some years earlier With some irony he leaves it open as the perfect epitaph Any moral character is closely bound up with scenes of autumn those leaves that fall like our years those flowers that fade like our hours those clouds that flee like our illusions that light that grows ever feebler like our intelligence that sun that grows colder like our loves those rivers that freeze over like our life all weave secret bounds with our fate En gardeThis isn t just a mystery It s about a man that finally gets to put his long time art into real practice His life is on the line and with a determined gaze and mocking sneer he undertakes the challenge The whole mystery is like a duel with an enemy and in the end what could be better than the story getting summarized by a concrete oneSpoilersDon Jaime thinks that a duel is an honorable way to die but not in his own house with a button on the tip of his foil and with a woman as an opponent That he refuses And what s he s not ready to die because he s not yet discovered the perfect thrust Perhaps he finds it in the end This is my favourite of Perez Reverte s books that I ve read thus far The stoic fencing maestro Jaime Astarloa is living out his remaining days of uiet desperation with a philosophical stiff upper lip as he watches the

*way of life *
of life has devoted himself to fade into unlamented obscurity Don Jaime spends his days teaching bratty aristocrats the art of the sword an art they appear to no longer need or care about and marking time with his few acuaintances in the Cafe Progresso a sad group of older men watching their decline in disbelief each a victim of their own inability to make victim of their own inability to make meaningful of their lives Into this uiet decline comes the unexpected appearance of a beautiful and mysterious woman Adela de Otero a veritable whirlwind of transformation whose reuest to learn from him the deadly two hundred escudo thrust plunges the hapless fencing master into a world of danger and intrigue uite at variance with his expectations for his sunset years though not perhaps wholly against his secret wishesThe political turmoil and colour of 19th century Madrid is brought to vivid life by Perez Reverte and Don Jaime s position as a virtual outsider within his own society make him an excellent viewpoint character for the reader The poignant decline of Don Jaime along with his perseverence despite the obstacles put before him make him sympathetic despite his relatively cool nature I really enjoyed reading this book and come back to it often to simply soak in the atmosphere so effectively created by Perez ReverteApril 2012 re read Still love it Don Jaime is a great character and Adela de Otero is almost worthy to be classed with Milady de Winter Awesome sense of time and place as well and all wrapped up in a fairly unconventional swashbucklerAlso posted at Shelf Inflicted. ?bola sobre el poder del dinero la ambición política y la extinción de los valores de honradez y fidelidad en este siglo XX ue agoniza. El maestro de esgrima

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