The Painter of Battles by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

  General information

‘The Painter of Battles’ (original title: ‘El Pintor de Batallas’), written by a well-known Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte, was published in 2006. It was considered to be one of the biggest literary events in Spain, since the author is highly respectable and admired and his novels have gained numerous fans, both Spanish and international, over the years. After such novels as ‘The Flanders Panel’ (1990) or ‘The Club Dumas’ (1993) readers had high expectations and waited impatiently to get lost in pages filled with reality created by the author once more.

Plot overview

Andrés Faulques, the main protagonist of the novel, used to work as a war photographer. His photos were supposed to reflect hardships, tragedies, evil and anguish brought by wars as well as the most primitive human instincts. He was unresponsive to suffering of individuals and what was of vast importance for him was to reach the only aim he had – presenting the cruelty of war as precisely as he could. He didn’t want to change the world, he wasn’t even influenced by all the horrid images he’d been exposed to. A turning point in his professional and personal life was the death of his beloved Olvido, a photographer who died after treading on a mine. Faulques gave up his job, bought a tower by the sea and decided to create a painting on its walls. The painting which depicted a battle, but not just an ordinary one. It was supposed to be the quintessence of all wars and battles. However, his isolated, little world was violated by Ivo, a stranger who turned out to be one of the people Falques had presented in his photographs. The man claimed that photographer’s impassive attitude and the presence of the camera in the middle of ongoing tragedies made him lose his sense of existence. Ivo decided to find Falques, pass judgement and finally punish the reporter by killing him. However, before he put his plans into practice, the accuser wanted to understand the photographer’s way of thinking, the motives of his behaviour. It led the two men to start a metaphorical journey through diverse aspects of life and art, in order to comprehend the sense of one’s existence.

Review

I adore and really admire Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s literary skills and find his writing style very interesting. ‘The Flanders Panel’  or ‘The Club Dumas’ are ones of my favourite books ever and after reading a few positive reviews concerning ‘The Painter Of Battles’ I hoped it would be a good choice. However, I was highly disappointed, since the novel didn’t live up to my expectations. It turned out to be a boring, elaborate set of descriptions, which made the book lame and lacking in action and dynamism. Not enough dialogues made the novel monotonous and difficult to follow. While reading I had an impression that the plot wouldn’t lead anywhere and I was really overwhelmed by a descriptive tenor dominating in the novel. I guess every author, even the best one, has some weak moments from time to time. For me, ‘The Painter Of Battles’ is a good example of that.

About the author

 Site  (English)

Site (Spanish)

 Facebook

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

General information 

The novel (an original title ‘El Club Dumas’) was written by a Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte and published in 1993 (Spanish) and 1996 (English). It is considered to belong to a crime/mystery novel genre. The novel served as an inspiration for Roman Polański (a Polish film director) who created a film based on it – ‘The Ninth Gate’ (1999).

Plot overview 

Lucas Corso, a book-dealer specializing in getting rare and valuable editions for anonymous buyers, acquires a previously unknown tale from ‘The Three Musketeers’ called ‘The Anjou Wine‘ and tries to check its authenticity. The manuscript was given to Flavio La Ponte, a bibliophile and Corso’s friend, by Enrique Taillefer who commited mysterious suicide right after giving away his book. In the meantime, Corso is given another task to accomplish. Varo Bojra, a collector of occult books, employs him to find and check authenticity of two remaining copies of the book he owns – ‘The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows’ which is supposed to contain a formula for summoning the devil. Corso’s investigation leads him to diverse places in Spain, Portugal and France and makes him discover mysterious and dark facts about the book, as well as face a serious danger. His “mission” and intriguing characters he encounters bear a strong resemblance to the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Soon, the reality, the story of ‘The Three Musketeers’ and the mystery of  ‘The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows’ start to intertwine and Corso does not realise that his role in the events was preplanned and is of vast importance…

 Review

Personally, I consider this novel to be one of the best I have ever read. I am very fond of books which incorporate elements of mystery, supernatural, evil forces and history. ‘The Club Dumas’ has all of them. What I like the most about it is its atmosphere, intriguing, scary, but at the same time funny in a couple of scenes.

The plot is quite complicated and consists of various events which mix with each other and make a very engrossing whole. At times, the plot is quite hard to follow and it requires paying a lot of attention. It is not a book that you can take and read without being focused. But I regard it as an advantage of ‘The Club Dumas’ because this
complexity is not overwhelming and makes the novel more interesting and sophisticated.

The only drawback of the novel that I can think of is predictability. Sometimes it was easy to guess what will happen next, so I simply missed the element of surprise. However, all in all, I find the book worth reading and I will definitely get lost in its pages again and again.

About the author

Site  (English)

Site   (Spanish)

Facebook