Arturo Perez Reverte is one of my favorite historical novelists. I enjoyed The Club Dumas, The Fencing Master, The Flanders Panel, the Captain Alatriste series, The Seville Communion and his non-historical novel The Painter of Battles. The Seige, however, was not a favorite.
The history and narration are sound. We get a strong sense of the city of Cadiz, the tense atmosphere of the siege, the politics of the time, day to day life, the operation of pirates, and the limitations and proper usage of artillery. The story has battles, raids, romance, a murder mystery, and well drawn characters. What it doesn’t have, in my opinion, is pacing. The novel moves along at a leisurely pace, gradually advancing the various story lines in small increments, and overwhelms the reader with data. I was frustrated when at over 300 pages into the novel, nothing much had happened.
I found the extended sections on politics and culture to eventually be tedious. I remember a college professor that said when you are reading Don Quixote and he meets a peasant, merchant, or traveler and they start talking politics, then skip to the end of that chapter. I felt like that.
Also, in a book this length, I think that a writer should stage exciting events (mini-climaxes) along the way to keep the reader moving along.
One the other hand, if you are a history buff and know this period or want to learn about it, then you will most likely enjoy the novel. Mr. Reverte certainly knows what he is writing about and he is a very skilled writer. For me, I liked his other novels better.