"Coy is a suspended sailor with time on his hands, a seaman without a ship. At an auction in Barcelona, he meets a beautiful woman who immediately captures his imagination. Tanger Soto is obsessed with the Dei Gloria, a Jesuit ship sunk by pirates in the seventeenth century, and now - she hopes - resting on the bottom of the sea off the southern coast of Spain. Using her expertise with documents, atlases, and nautical maps, as well as her subtle manipulative skills with men, she charts the search for lost treasure. Coy is quickly drawn into the adventure, and before long finds himself falling in love. Along with El Piloto, the world-wise old man of the sea whose ship will carry this enterprising crew, they seek their fortune together. Or do they?"--BOOK JACKET.
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.
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.
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.