THE FENCING MASTER, by Arturo Perez-Reverte

This stand-alone book follows events in the lonely life of Don Jaime Astarloa, an aging Madrid fencing master in coming-apart-at-the-seams 1868 Madrid. A man whose talents are no longer appreciated, whose pupils would rather fire a gun than slide a tierce (I may have this term wrong; my only adventure with a rapier caused a sprained ankle). Don Jaime, a man to whom honor is all, is inveigled by Doña Adela de Otero, a beautiful, talented young woman into demonstrating his infallible master thrust. He then introduces her to his patron and friend, the Marquis de los Alumbres. What follows far exceeds anything Don Jamie could have expected. Once again, Perez-Reverte’s writing talents give us a 5+.