1/series. In 17th century Spain, post-Armada, all was well if you were rich, but otherwise life was pretty dicey (some things don’t change; remind you of anything current?). The court of Phillip III glitters, but most of Spain goes hungry. Captain Diego Alatriste, ex-soldier and peerless swordsman, is reduced to renting out his expertise while he recuperates from a serious wound received in the endless Flemish wars. Enter a mysterious Englishman who Alatriste is hired to scare; subsequently ordered to kill by a priest of the Inquisition. The tale unfolds with elegant simplicity, told through the eyes of Alatriste’s young protégé, Iñigo. I really enjoy subtly simple writing, with gradually unfolding character insights and tight plotting. Even if you prefer "literary fiction", you may find these enjoyable tales well worth the time. This, the first of a new series by this renowned Spanish author, is a 5. Posted 7/29: Following tales include Purity of Blood (Inquisition); The Sun Over Breda (Spain's endless Flanders wars); The King's Gold (the treasure fleet from the New World); The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet (assassination); Pirates of the Levant (eastern Med Spanish/Turkish sea battles, the best recounting I've ever read, it will leave you completely exhausted). This is up there with the late and lamented Patrick O'Brien's stellar series.