Perez-Reverte wrote the Captain Alatriste seies as a homage to the adventure books that had been his own initiation into the world of reading as a boy - books such as Dumas's The Three Musketeers. Captain Alatriste is a swordsman for hire in Spain in the 1620s - a time when Court intrigue is high and the decadent young king has dragged the country into a series of disastrous wars. As a hired 'blade', Alatriste becomes involved in many political plots and must live by his wits. He comes face to face with hired assassins, court players, political moles, smugglers, pirates and of course, the infamous Spanish Inquisition...All the stories are told by Inigo Balboa, Alatriste's young page. The cast of characters also includes Quevedo, an irrepressible subversive poet who likes to start fights in the local tavern, the kind-hearted innkeeper and ex-prostitute who shares Alatriste's bed, the elegant Count of Guadalmedina, the beautiful but deadly Angelica de Alquezar, and a whole host of underworld figures.