The Fencing Master

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9780156029834: The Fencing Master

Fencing is not a game but a science. The outcome is invariably the same: triumph or disaster, life or death...It is 1868; Spain teeters on the brink of revolution. Jaime Astarloa is a master-fencer of the old school, priding himself on the precision, dignity and honour of his ancient art; his friends spend their days in cafes discussing plots at court, but Jaime's obsession is to perfect the irresistible sword thrust. Then Adela de Otero, violet-eyed and enigmatic, appears at his door. When Jaime takes her on as a pupil he finds himself embroiled in dark political intrigues against which his old-fashioned values are no protection.

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Review:

Described as a "master of the intellectual thriller", Arturo Perez-Reverte has established himself as a major figure in European fiction. The English translation of The Fencing Master, first published in Spanish in 1988, follows the critical success of The Flanders Panel and The Dumas Club.

Contemplative, skilful, and--in a quiet way--melancholy, The Fencing Master is a foray into historical fiction: Perez-Reverte draws his figures against the background of a Madrid sweltering on the eve of Spain's September Revolution in 1868. Each of its eight chapters begins with an epigraph to the art which emerges as a way of interpreting the world through this novel: fencing. Jaime Astarloa, the master, has made fencing his life and legacy, and it's through his eyes--the eyes of a man who wants to resist the vulgar progress of 19th-century politics and passions--that the mystery, and tragedy, of the book unfold. It begins with a woman who wants to learn fencing--"At that moment, someone knocked at the door, and nothing would ever again be the same in the fencing master's life"--a woman who draws Astarloa into a world of political and erotic intrigue which will test his art to the limit.--Vicky Lebeau

Review:

"You will want to reach the book's nearly perfect ending in a single sitting" ( Time Out)

"The author is in the best sense a romantic and to read him is to rediscover the delights of Dumas and Conan Doyle" (Amanda Craig The Times)

"As assured and elegant as Don Jaime's sword thrusts" (Stephanie Merritt Observer)

"A delight... the thriller as it out to be" (Allan Massie Scotsman)

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