Captain Alatriste is supposed to be a throwback to the days of the swashbuckling movies of Errol Flynn, but unfortunately he buckles under the weight of trying to live up to such a heritage. His character is drawn as more of a caricature with the requisite lofty ideals and insurmountable odds against, him but readers will be left feeling that his heroic abilities are wanting.
There are however, some good examples of involved research, attention to detail and grisly believability with the descriptions of the rigors of torture endured by the blessedly younger-than-fourteen prisoner Balboa: those less than fourteen years old cannot be stretched upon the rack. Later on in the story, Balboa fears that perhaps they will burn him at the stake instead. Alatriste attempts to get Balboa out before he goes up in flames. Along the way, he also tries to accomplish his original mission, which is saving a girl from the clutches of a lecherous priest who has kidnapped her to serve as his concubine.
Despite the promising premise, the plot has holes large enough to run a sword through, and the pacing skitters wildly in places and scatters to the winds in others. Purity of Blood: The Adventures of Captain Alatriste is a novel guaranteed to disappoint.