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from Reviews (ADR)
concerning El Salteador

     El Salteador is a historical romance set in Spain in 1519, one of several products (along with Le Bâtard de Mauléon of Alexandre Dumas' visit to Spain in 1845. The book dates from the period of Dumas' greatest fame and productivity, when Dumas produced the canon of historical romances for which he is best known today. El Salteador mixes fascinating historical vignettes and vivid travel writing with swordplay and melodrama. While the travel and history are first rate, the melodrama has not aged gracefully, both in its own terms and by comparison with other works by Dumas.
     The novel opens with an elderly Spanish nobleman, Don Inigo, a former compatriot of Christopher Columbus, and his beautiful daughter, Dona Flora, traveling through the mountains from Malaga to Grenada, waylaid by a troupe of brigands.
     The bandit chief, known only by the title "El Salteador," struck by the beauty of Dona Flora, and the dignity of Don Inigo, releases them undespoiled. The true name of the brigand is Don Fernando, son of a great nobleman, Don Ruis, whom, naturally, is an old comrade-in-arms to Don Inigo. Don Fernando killed a man in a duel, (over a woman), killed several soldiers sent to arrest him, and found it expedient to flee.
     Don Fernando has no sooner released Don Inigo and his daughter when a troupe of soldiers attacks the brigands, who disperse. Don Fernando escapes the soldiers and an attempt to burn him out by forest fire with the aid of a beautiful gypsy ("Bohemian" in the translation) girl, Ginesta.
     The action shifts to Grenada, where Spain's new king, Carlos, has just assumed the crown from his long-dead father, Philip. Carlos' mother, Joanna the Mad, insisted that Philip was still alive, and for twelve years refused to bury the body. Don Ruis petitions the King for pardon for his wayward son, and is summarily refused. Don Inigo is appointed Chief Justice for Andalucia, and also petitions a pardon for Don Fernando, and is also refused.
     But then Ginesta turns up with evidence showing that she is Carlos' illegitimate half-sister. In return for agreeing to enter a convent and renouncing her proofs of parentage, Carlos pardons Don Fernando.
     Don Fernando returns to the bosom of his family for about a half hour before he becomes embroiled in a duel with another young noble, Don Ramiro over Dona Flora. Don Ruis appears, and demands that his son put up his sword. Don Fernando knocks down his father, wounds Don Ramiro, and flees. Trapped by the king's guards, he kills or wounds eight or ten soldiers before Don Inigo arrives and persuades Don Fernando to surrender to the King's justice.
     Dumas pulls all the threads together in an implausible last chapter, in which the tangled relationships among the major characters are at last revealed, and King Carlos is proclaimed the Holy Roman Emperor.

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