The lovely young lady who sold me this book assured me it was a “wonderful read” but I too often found it tedious and overwrought. The woodcuts, illustrations and tables were the sort of textual interruption I enjoy, and Pérez-Reverte's tangential obsessions with Dumas and forgeries were occasionally interesting. But the alcoholic anti-hero's irresistible charm completely defied my imagination.
Pérez-Reverte relies a great deal on continental romanticism, using baroque settings to supply depth of feeling where his plot and characters cannot. I suspect this book appeals mostly to readers in their 20s, anticipating the joys of their next student EuroRail pass.
Speed-reading quotient: 95% of the book.