The nautical chart

by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Paper Book, 2001





New York : Harcourt, 2002


At a maritime auction in Barcelona, Merchant Marine officer Manuel Coy sees an intense bidding war erupt over a seemingly innocuous 18th-century atlas. The auction winner is the beautiful Tnger Soto, who is obsessed with a Jesuit ship sunk by pirates in the 17th century. Joining forces, Tnger and Manuel hit the seas in search of Dei Gloria and its precious, yet unidentified, cargo.

User reviews

LibraryThing member smik
Coy, a sailor down on his luck meet Tanger Soto, a mysterious scholar who needs him to help search for a shipwreck. He falls for Tanger and ends up involved in a search for the ship and a treasure that may or may not be on board. A romance develops even as Coy learns that Tanger may be using him for his ability to navigate in dangerous waters. This story is set in Spain and contains lots of Spanish history. Almost a combination of Clive Cussler and Alistair Maclean. There's a lot of detail about navigation and the Jesuits and meridians. Not so much a mystery as a thriller.… (more)
LibraryThing member pickoftheliterate
After reading Captain Alatriste earlier in the year, I felt overdue to revisit one of Perez-Reverte’s more contemporary novels. This one isn’t quite in the league of The Flanders Panel or The Club Dumas, but it was very enjoyable.

The story revolves around a sailor who has been barred from his naval career due to an unfortunate incident at sea. Attending an auction, he witnesses a curious bidding war over a very old nautical chart. Soon he is entangled with a femme fatale who thinks she has the inside track to a bountiful treasure lost at sea several hundred years ago.

As always, Perez-Reverte manages to weave considerable research into the story quite effortlessly. He just threads it into the action so you hardly notice how much you’re learning. Here we learn much of the nuances of a sailor’s life as well as a subtle history of mapmaking. So this is a good page-turner that will teach you a few things. But if you’re unconvinced, start with his other two books that I mentioned.
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LibraryThing member Gary10
Well written suspense novel about a team of modern day ship scavengers. takes place off the Spanish coast. Well researched and exciting.
LibraryThing member JBD1
Another decent one from Perez-Reverte, but not the best.
LibraryThing member John
This was a big disappointment. I have been a fan of Perez-Reverte ever since his first ‘literary thriller', The Flanders Panel, and I enjoyed The Fencing Master. However, this one does not work. It has the usual, intriguing idea of a particular approach or theme, in this case, intrigue surrounding the purchase of an ancient nautical chart that can be instrumental in finding a long-lost ship that may, or may not, have been carrying a very valuable cargo of uncut and perfect emeralds. There is a fair bit of history concerning the treatment of the Jesuits in Spain in the 1700s, and the development of nautical charts in their increasing complexity and accuracy (I didn't know that at one time there were any number of "prime meridians", before the world settled on Greenwich, which certainly had to complicate navigation!), but sometimes I had the impression that the author, having done all this research, was determined to get it all down on paper. The protagonists are not also as believable as they might be: Coy is the stranded sailor who gets caught up in the plans of Tanger Soto, a museum director and purchaser of the particular nautical chart who is determined to find the wreck of the Jesuit ship. Coy was the best drawn character, and there are a couple of bad guys, one in particular who is a dwarf and a nasty piece of work from Argentina. But the book goes on too long, the action is too sporadic, and the plot development is not as believable as it has to be for this sort of mystery to work. The book is 465 pages long and would have been a better novel at about 200 pages less.
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LibraryThing member jewelryladypam
I had a hard time getting into this book - the writer has a very elaborate, expressive way of writing and, I felt, over-described every minute detail. Once I settled into his unique style, however, I did enjoy the book. I finallly 'got into it' after about 350 of the 466 pages and I'm glad I stuck with it. There were several twists and turns and I was surprised by the final outcome. Though I felt he could've condensed this work into half of its size, I'm glad I got through to the end. It was a nice mix of history, geography, romance, adventure, and maritime journey.… (more)
LibraryThing member erinamelia
It's tautly written and compelling but in the end I felt it had a slightly misogynistic overtone. Lots of nice details about navigation and treasure hunting.
LibraryThing member thejohnsmith
An enjoyable story but not totally engrossing and at times the writing is a little more intricate than it needs to be making it hard work in parts. Not what I'd describe as a page turner but there was no way I was going to give up on it either.
LibraryThing member idiotgirl
Audio. Fun Made it to the end. Not much more to say.
LibraryThing member JohnGrant1
No time for more than a brief note, alas.

Coy is a sailor confined to land for a couple of years because he accidentally ran a ship aground. He's lured by lovely museum curator Tanger into the search for a Jesuit ship that sank/was sunk in the late 18th century, and for its cargo of precious emeralds. As the tale slowly unfolds we're treated to a myriad smaller stories of Coy's earlier adventures among other men for whom, like him, the land seems a foreign territory and the sea their only possible home.

This longish text demands that you immerse yourself in it, that you invest in time in it; it's not really amenable to being read in ten-minute chunks grabbed here and there as other activities permit. If you're looking for rip-roaring, pulse-pounding action, this isn't for you (although there's some of that in it), but I found it entirely engrossing nonetheless -- it was a wrench to put it down each time I had to.

Margaret Sayers Peden's respectful translation serves the book well. Every now and then I was reminded, by an odd turn of phrase or some infelicuty, that this was a translation, but that occurred no more than a handful of times during the book; otherwise, the narrative read with great style.
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LibraryThing member Mrs_McGreevy
The seafarin' adventure and noir combine in this tale of a melancholy sailor, an enigmatic blonde, a 200-year-old shipwreck, and a passel of bad guys who also want to find the ship.
LibraryThing member nkmunn
I do not know even after all these pages whether the translation sucks or the whole thing misses the mark ?

it feels like when you go to an elaborate dinner served by a drunk foodie couple whose overambitious menu features dishes with expensive and exotic ingredients that they just can't quite pull off while inebriated and interacting with their guests. Stuff comes to the table late, under or over-cooked. The dialogue is banal, and what should tickle the senses falls flat.

if you put a post-it over the author's name you might think Dan Brown and Clive Cussler's manuscripts got misfed in adjacent Xerox machines that spat out the pages and the people who came upon the papers scattered about published the stuff they picked up off the floor and shuffled back together.
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LibraryThing member xenchu
This was a well-written book as usual with Perez-Reverte's work. I won't spoil the book but for me the plot had a certain air that was accomplished. It was worth reading.
LibraryThing member celerydog
Helped pass a dull daytime flight. Read a bit like a sub-Bond movie at times. Unreconstructed misogynist as anti-hero grated at times.
LibraryThing member thorold
A curious mixture of noir thriller, Tintin adventure and Moby-Dick. Perez-Reverte seems to be playing around with that most Spanish of subjects, the collision between real life and the romance of adventure stories. A heroine who can't make her mind up whether she's Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon or a boy reporter with a quiff is confronted with a hero made up of equal parts of Lord Jim, Captain Haddock and Popeye, and they go hunting for sunken treasure in 1990s Spain. It sounds absurd, and the concept isn't helped by P-R’s habitual weakness for the worst noir clichés (the fist-fights, the sip-by-sip and blow-by-blow descriptions of every drink and cigarette, the mind-numbing misogyny of it all). But I have to confess to getting a good deal of pleasure out of it. Maybe some of that came from reading it in the original and having to puzzle out all the Spanish nautical terminology, but there is also something curiously appealing about the character of the sailor who still hasn't quite fallen out of love with the sea.… (more)


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