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The Nautical Chart

The Nautical Chart

3.0 14
by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)

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Coy is a sailor without a ship.Tánger Soto is a woman with an obsession to find the Dei Gloria, a ship sunk during the seventeenth century, and El Piloto is an old man with the sailboat on which all three set out to seek their fortune together. Or do they?


Coy is a sailor without a ship.Tánger Soto is a woman with an obsession to find the Dei Gloria, a ship sunk during the seventeenth century, and El Piloto is an old man with the sailboat on which all three set out to seek their fortune together. Or do they?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A work whose intentional, delicious, and old-fashioned blurring of the distinction between high literature and pop entertainment entitles it to a space of its own in that library—and in yours.”
Deprived of a ship, a mariner's mind turns naturally to women, so perhaps it's not surprising that sailor Coy deals with a suspension by becoming ensnared with a gorgeous fortune hunter who works at the Naval Museum in Madrid. Her scheme to retrieve a 17th-century sunken treasure lures Coy into very deep waters indeed. But Perez-Reverte teaches us that in reading, enthrallment is its own reward.
John Balzar
The Nautical Chart is a sea story told as a sailor might, off duty on the deck of his ship. With appreciation for character and detail. With keen command of pacing and no need to rush. Like any good storyteller, writer or musician, Perez-Reverte makes eye contact to be certain that he's got hold of you.
Los Angeles Times
Publishers Weekly
Popular Spanish novelist Perez-Reverte (The Fencing Master; The Club Dumas) is known as "the master of the intellectual thriller." But his customarily skillful blend of pop erudition and conscious borrowing of literary precedents threatens to capsize this tale of a race to retrieve a fortune in emeralds that sank off the Mediterranean coast of Spain in 1767. Manuel Coy is now in the Conrad phase of his life, having previously lived a Stevenson period and a Melville period. He is a "sailor exiled from the sea," his pilot's license suspended for two years after he ran a merchant ship onto an uncharted rock in the Indian Ocean. Attending an auction of nautical relics in Barcelona (in his "Lord Jim jacket"), Coy watches a beautiful young blonde woman outmaneuver a menacing ponytailed man to purchase a 17th-century nautical chart of the Spanish coast by Urrutia Salcedo. The woman is T nger Soto, of Madrid's Museo Naval; the ponytailed man is a famed pirate of sea salvage, Nino Palermo. Coy comes to T nger's defense when he sees her being threatened outside the auction house by Palermo thus putting himself in the service of a woman he is sure will eventually betray him. The characters are only too aware of the affinities of their story with The Maltese Falcon, and with a whole library of sea literature. P?rez-Reverte is too accomplished a novelist to write a truly dull book, and the underwater sequences that climax the story are masterfully done. But any sea adventure that is more than half over before it makes it to the sea has to be in some kind of trouble. (Oct.) Forecast: This may not be P?rez-Reverte at his best, but his second-best will be more than good enough for most readers. A firstprinting of 125,000 copies and a five-city author tour are in the works. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Spanish master Perez-Reverte has a streamlined approach to novel writing: he takes a recherch subject say, fencing or rare books and uses it to construct a story rich in suspense, detail, and character study. The territory he covers in his latest work (after The Fencing Master) is in fact the deep blue sea. Coy, a sailor suspended for two years from the Merchant Marine, becomes infatuated with a mysterious woman named T nger Soto he encounters at an auction. There she has successfully bid on an old maritime atlas that will guide her to the Dei Gloria, a Jesuit ship downed in the Mediterranean in the 18th century. Soon T nger has drawn Coy into her scheme, which pits them against a thug named Palermo and his sidekick dwarf. All the elements are here for another literate thriller from Perez-Reverte, but this work is surprisingly less effective than its predecessors. The set-up is intriguing and the ending persuasively suspenseful, but in the middle stretches a long, becalmed section that dwells tediously on maritime detail and on Coy's endless seesawing as he considers whether to trust the obviously treacherous T nger. Perhaps those with a taste for the sea will be more drawn in; otherwise, this should work primarily for larger thriller collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This marvelous thriller-a seafaring mystery that pointedly evokes the immortal romances of Melville, Stevenson, and Conrad-is the fifth (and best) fiction in English translation yet from the very popular Spanish author of The Club Dumas (1997) and The Seville Communion (1998). Its plot is skillfully and quickly set in motion when Merchant Marine officer Manuel Coy a thoughtful, bookish (though "not intellectual") loner who is confined to land following a shipwreck that had occurred during his watch, attends an auction of "naval objects" in Barcelona. Coy observes a tense bidding war over a seemingly obscure 18th-century atlas, and later follows its winner, a beautiful blond woman named Tanger Soto, to the Madrid museum where she works as a researcher. He's eventually enlisted in her search for the wreck of the Dei Gloria, a brigantine owned by Jesuit brethren (and carrying an undisclosed precious cargo) that had been sunk in 1767, probably by a pursuing pirate ship, off the southern coast of Spain. Perez-Reverte paces his tale expertly, shifting its focus among the dangers that threaten Tanger's undertaking (including a sinister "treasure hunter" and his "menacing dwarf" hireling, a former Argentinean death-squad mercenary), Coy's helpless fixation on the mystery woman who simultaneously reels him in and keeps him at bay, and an impressive wealth of nautical and navigational technique and lore. The story takes a dazzling turn 100 pages from its end, when its omniscient narrator "introduces" himself (along with other, even more crucial revelations), and ends up smashingly, with a "tragicomedy of betrayals" that underscore the embittered Coy's resemblance to the resigned, burnt-outcharacters of (his favorite author) Joseph Conrad: "weary heroes, . . . aware of the danger of dreaming when at the helm." In a virtually perfect fusion of absorbing action and precise, intricate characterization, Perez-Reverte magically sustains the tension and suspense over a span of almost 500 pages. A classic of its genre, equal to the best of Eric Ambler and Patrick O'Brian-and, beyond genre, not far below the levels and depths plumbed by Melville and Conrad themselves. First printing of 125,000; author tour

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
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Product dimensions:
7.98(w) x 5.24(h) x 1.13(d)

Read an Excerpt

Lot 307

I have swum through oceans and sailed through libraries.

-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

We could call him Ishmael, but in truth his name is Coy. I met him in the next-to-last act of this story, when he was on the verge of becoming just one more shipwrecked sailor floating on his coffin as the whaler Rachel looked for lost sons. By then he had already been drifting some, including the afternoon when he came to the Claymore auction gallery in Barcelona with the intention of killing time. He had a small sum of money in his pocket and, in a room in a boardinghouse near the Ramblas, a few books, a sextant, and a pilot's license that four months earlier the head office of the Merchant Marine had suspended for two years, after the Isla Negra, a forty-thousand-ton container ship, had run aground in the Indian Ocean at 04:20 hours...on his watch.

Coy liked auctions of naval objects, although in his present situation he was in no position to bid. But Claymore's, located on a first floor on calle Consell de Cent, was air-conditioned and served drinks at the end of the auction, and besides, the young woman at the reception desk had long legs and a pretty smile. As for the items to be sold, he enjoyed looking at them and imagining the stranded sailors who had been carrying them here and there until they were washed up on this final beach. All through the session, sitting with his hands in the pockets of his dark-blue wool jacket, he kept track of the buyers who carried off his favorites. Often this pastime was disillusioning. A magnificent diving suit, whose dented and gloriously scarred copper helmet made him think of shipwrecks, banks of sponges and Negulesco's films with giant squid and Sophia Loren emerging from the water with her wet blouse plastered to her body, was acquired by an antique dealer whose pulse never missed a beat as he raised his numbered paddle. And a very old Browne & Son handheld compass, in good condition and in its original box, for which Coy would have given his soul during his days as an apprentice, was awarded, without any change in the opening price, to an individual who looked as if he knew absolutely nothing about the sea; that piece would sell for ten times its value if it were displayed in the window of any maritime sporting-goods shop.

The fact is, that afternoon the auctioneer hammered down lot 306-a Ulysse Nardin chronometer used in the Italian Regia Marina-at the opening price, consulting his notes as he pushed up his glasses with his index finger. He was suave, and was wearing a salmon-colored shirt and a rather dashing necktie. Between bids he took small sips of a glass of water.

"Next lot: Atlas Marítimo de las Costas de España, the work of Urrutia Salcedo. Number three oh seven."

He accompanied the announcement with a discreet smile saved for pieces whose importance he meant to highlight. An eighteenth-century jewel of cartography, he added after a significant pause, emphasizing the word "jewel" as if it pained him to release it. His assistant, a young man in a blue smock, held up the large folio volume so it could be seen from the floor, and Coy looked at it with a stab of sadness. According to the Claymore catalogue, it was rare to find this edition for sale, since most of the copies were in libraries and museums. This one was in perfect condition. Most likely it had never been on a ship, where humidity, penciled notations, and natural wear and tear left their irreparable traces on navigational charts.

The auctioneer was opening the bidding at a price that would have allowed Coy to live for a year in relative comfort. A man with broad shoulders, a clear brow, and long gray hair pulled back into a ponytail, who was sitting in the first row and whose cell phone had rung three times, to the irritation of others in the room, held up his paddle, number 11. Other hands went up as the auctioneer, small wooden gavel in hand, turned his attention from one to another, his modulated voice repeating each offer and suggesting the next with professional monotony. The opening price was about to be doubled, and prospective buyers of lot 307 began dropping by the wayside. Joining the corpulent individual with the gray ponytail in the battle was another man, lean and bearded, a woman-of whom Coy could see only the back of a head of short blond hair and the hand raising her paddle-and a very well-dressed bald man. When the woman doubled the initial price, gray ponytail half-turned to send a miffed glance in her direction, and Coy glimpsed green eyes, an aggressive profile, a large nose, and an arrogant expression. The hand holding his paddle bore several gold rings. The man gave the appearance of not being accustomed to competition, and he turned to his right brusquely, where a dark-haired, heavily made-up young woman who had been murmuring into the phone every time it rang was now suffering the consequences of his bad humor. He rebuked her harshly in a low voice.

"Do I hear a bid?"

Gray ponytail raised his hand, and the blonde woman immediately counterattacked, lifting her paddle, number 74. That caused a stir in the room. The lean bearded man decided to withdraw, and after two new raises the bald, well-dressed man began to waver. Gray ponytail raised the bidding, and caused new frowns in his vicinity when his phone rang once again. He took it from the hand of his secretary and clamped it between his shoulder and his ear; at the same time his free hand shot up to respond to the bid the blonde had just made. At this point in the contest, the entire room was clearly on the side of the blonde, hoping that ponytail would run out of either money or phone batteries. The Urrutia was now at triple the opening price, and Coy exchanged an amused glance with the man in the next seat, a small dark-haired man with a thick mustache and hair slicked back with gel. His neighbor returned the look with a courteous smile, placidly crossing his hands in his lap and twirling his thumbs. He was small and fastidious, almost prissy, and had melancholy, appealing, slightly bulging eyes, like frogs in fairy tales. He wore a red polka-dot bow tie and a hybrid, half Prince of Wales, half Scots tartan jacket that gave him the outlandishly British air of a Turk dressed by Burberry.

"Do I have a higher bid?"

The auctioneer held his gavel high, his inquisitive eyes focused on gray ponytail, who had handed the cell phone back to his secretary and was staring at him with annoyance. His latest bid, exactly three times the original price, had been covered by the blonde, whose face Coy, more and more curious, could not see no matter how hard he tried to peer between the heads in front of him. It was difficult to guess whether it was the bump in the bidding that was perturbing ponytail or the woman's brassy competitiveness.

"Ladies and gentlemen, is this the last bid?" asked the auctioneer, with great equanimity.

He was looking at ponytail, without eliciting a response. Everyone in the room was looking expectantly in the same direction. Including Coy.

"Then at the current price, going once....At this price, going twice...."

Gray ponytail thrust up his paddle in a violent gesture, as if he were brandishing a weapon. As a murmur spread through the room, Coy again looked to the blonde. Her paddle was already up, topping his bid. Once again the tension built, and for the next two minutes everyone in the room followed the rapid duel's intense pace as if watching a fight to the death. Paddle number 11 was no sooner down than 74 was up. Not even the auctioneer could keep up; he had to pause a couple of times to sip from the glass of water sitting on the lectern.

"Do I have a further bid?"

Urrutia's Atlas was at five times its opening price when number 11 committed an error. Perhaps his nerve faltered, although the error might have been his secretary's; her phone rang insistently and she passed it to him at a critical moment, just as the auctioneer was holding the gavel high in expectation of a new bid, and gray ponytail hesitated as if reconsidering. The error, if that is what it was, might also have been the fault of the auctioneer, who may have interpreted the sudden movement, the turn toward the secretary, as a capitulation and an end to the bidding. Or perhaps there was no error at all, because auctioneers, like other human beings, have their hang-ups and their phobias, and this one might have been inclined to favor ponytail's opponent. Whatever the case, three seconds were all that were needed for the gavel to bang down on the lectern. Urrutia's Atlas was awarded to the blonde woman whose face Coy still hadn't seen.

© 2000, Arturo Pérez-Reverte
English translation copyright © 2001 by Margaret Sayers Peden

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address:Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Meet the Author

Arturo P+rez-Reverte is an internationally acclaimed author and his books have been translated into nineteen languages in thirty countries and sold more than three million copies worldwide. He was born in 1951 in Spain, where he still lives.

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The Nautical Chart 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
MSteudel More than 1 year ago
I can understand why many regular readers of Perez-Reverte did not enjoy this novel as much as some of his others. It lacks much of the sustained suspense and intrigue you get in some of his better known works. However, I actually found I enjoyed The Nautical Chart more than the other books I've read by the author (The Club Dumas, The Flanders Panel, and Captain Alatriste). Perez-Reverte seemed to have higher literary ambitions than usual in this book, and it seemed to result in a slower-paced, more realistic drama compared to his normal fare. Yet, for this same reason, I found that there was a lot more depth to the story, and the characters and themes simply resonated with me more than in his other novels. Plus, it's about a shipwreck, and that's always cool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Future-Author More than 1 year ago
I found this book very boring. If you don't have some knowledge of the Spanish language, it tends to confuse you. It's a very slow-moving book. I didn't even finish it. In my opinion the author paid more attention to describing the landscape of where the characters were than to the characters themselves.
JessiePare More than 1 year ago
The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte starts off with a man named Coy who is banished from his ship and left on land. He awaits a decision of whether or not he will be allowed back on his ship. While awaiting this decision, he is at an auction in Barcelona. He sees this very attractive woman who bids nonstop on this one possession. But while bidding, Coy notices that a man seems to be fighting over it with her, they go back and forth for a while. Until, she undoubtedly wins and the possession, that is an Atlas made by Urrutia Salcedo becomes hers. After the auction ends Coy walks outside and sees that the woman that won the Atlas and the man that also wanted it were fighting outside. Coy rushes over to see if he can help but this man seems furious to Coy and in the end Coy walks away with this newly acquainted woman named Tanger Soto. Tanger is a very strong and mysterious woman. She could make anyone fall for her lies. Coy becomes infatuated with Tanger, but Tanger is only interested in one thing finding the sunken ship The Dei Gloria. The Atlas that was won in Barcelona was one clue among many that could lead towards this unfound ship. Tanger asks for Coys help, because she knows that he is able to read nautical charts and is very good at sea. Although she does mention to Coy that helping her could be dangerous, but Coy doesn't mind as long as he is with Tanger. The reason that Tanger says there could be danger is because the man that she was fighting with at the auction is after the same ship that she is and he could become very dangerous. Throughout this book there are many twists and turns that lead to some very serious situations but for some reason "I sometimes got confused because the author tends to write in circles." Meaning like he would talk about what was happening between Tanger and Coy and then all of a sudden it would be talking about Coy and his old adventures out at sea. " I did not like the book also, because it progressed very slowly through the plot line." By reading this book I learned that sometimes you shouldn't trust a person even if you think your falling in love with that person. I would probably recommend this book more to men rather than women because it deals with ships and a lot of stuff that doesn't pertain to women.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The main character in The Nautical Chart is a quiet sailor named Coy. Coy¿s sailing license has been suspended because the ship he was sailing on hit a rock on his watch. While at an auction in Barcelona, Coy meets a woman named Tanger. She works for the Museo Naval in Madrid. A few weeks later Coy goes to see Tanger in Madrid and he finds out that she is searching for a ship that sunk in 1767, named the Dei Gloria. Tanger tells Coy that she wants to recover the ship for historical purposes only, but he believes she has another motive that she is keeping hidden. However, Coy agrees to help Tanger search for the Dei Gloria and also gets his friend, El Piloto, to sail with them and lend them his boat. Coy also meets a dangerous treasure hunter named Nino Palermo, who is also trying to find the Dei Gloria and will stop at nothing to get there before Tanger. I did not like this book because I found that most of it was very boring. I thought that the beginning was very redundant when describing Coy and his personality. One part of the description of him was a paragraph almost two pages long. In the paragraph it repeated over and over again how Coy felt about the sea and being a sailor. It said things like ¿he viewed life on land as unreliable and lamentable¿his one desire was to stay as far away [from land] as necessary¿he was one of those men who was happiest ten miles away form the nearest shore¿the sea is clean¿the sea is a solution¿. The author repeated things like this over and over again in different words making it very boring and repetitive. Another reason I didn¿t like the book was because it would get exciting and then boring for long stretches soon after that. For example, when Coy, Tanger, and El Piloto think they¿ve found the area where the ship should be it seems like the book is coming to the climax. However, they don¿t find the Dei Gloria there and there are another 25 pages or so of the three of them consulting maps and professors before it even starts to get interesting again. Things like this made the story seem like it was being dragged out. I also did not like the authors writing style when it came to dialogues. A lot of the time, instead of using quotation marks the author would explain what a character was saying. Sometimes I would have to stop and think for a few moments just to figure out what someone was saying or who was speaking. For example, when Coy first meets Tanger he asks her if she wants to get a drink with him, but instead of just writing the question in quotations, the author wrote: ¿He spoke with the spontaneous shyness that was his usual way with people¿he spoke, touched his nose, and spoke again¿and then stood there waiting.¿ I didn¿t even realize that he had asked her out until she said yes and they went to a bar. Many conversations were written this way and were confusing and hard to follow. I also found that Coy read too much into some gestures or things that people said. For example, near the beginning of the story Tanger and Coy go to see a professor to ask him about the Dei Gloria. The professor is talking to Tanger but every so often he turns to look at Coy. The author goes on for a whole paragraph about how Coy interprets the gesture. It says that the gesture says ¿I don¿t know your role in this story friend, but I suppose it wont bother you if I talk to her a while.¿ The paragraph goes on to say similar things about what Coy thinks the gesture means. This quickly got boring when it was done again and again with different actions and conversations and it too made the story seem like it was being dragged out. One lesson I learned from this book is that you should be careful who you trust. Coy throws caution to the winds and trusts Tanger without thinking too much about the outcome. He ends up getting himself into many dangerous situations such as when he gets into a fight with Nino Palermo and two of his bodyguards, and he is nearly killed. I would not recommend this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is anything but dull. Yes, translation may be an issue, but this story has a generous plot and character depth and the ending is surprising. Reverte, as in Flanders, can lag a bit in the middle of the novel but really doesn't here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reverte has written the novel that all of his previous, stilted efforts promised. Yes, this is boring beyond anything in this genre. In the past he has been somewhat able to overcome stilted dialogue and weakly drawn characters with terrific plots that move forward briskly. However, The Nautical Chart, moves more slowly than a row boat crossing the Atlantic. It is well past the midpoint of the book that our heroes finally take to the sea. The 250+ pages leading to this could easily have been condensed to under 50 as there is no interest developed in the socalled mystery of the sunken ship they are seeking or in the half realized pending romance that is beyond logic. Coy must be the biggest sap walking the docks to follow Tanger in her quest. More than this, Coy seems to find the need to touch his nose every 15 pages or so. What was that all about?? Perhaps the translation is flawed and somewhere here there is a treasure chest of a story but I doubt it. In previous efforts such as The Seville Communion and The Club Dumas Reverte has kept the pages turning despite serious drawbacks in his writing style. As prose this is hign school creative writing level. As suspense it is sleep inducing. Intellectual only for those who have difficulty pronouncing the word and believe the cover jacket blurbs!! Instead of wasting your time and money her why not seek out Michael Dibdin's prolific series featuring his Italian policeman Aurelio Zen. Not so pretentious and much better paced.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Plumbing both the depth of the seas and of his characters, Arturo Pérez-Reverte brings us this terrific adventure book. In doing so, he reaches beyond his own classic intellectual adventures, The Fencing Master, and The Club Dumas now to produce what is rightly a grand novel. Senorita Tánger Soto is a dangerous, beautiful woman: Coy, a sailor and amateur diver. After encountering her at an auction, Coy correctly senses both the pleasures and the perils that lie in her wake.Both of them, and the quiet Senor El Piloto, make up an unlikely intrepid trio, who set out to search for the Dei Gloria ¿ sunk off Spanish waters in 1767, at a place identified on an old chart. Coy falls in love with Tánger, who responds only physically ¿ not emotionally. Has he any reason to trust this woman? Of course, many twists and adventures lie ahead, and many pages later the author wittily bring in the narrater of the story --but Perez Reverte wastes not, and the narrater plays an important, though brief role. Pérez-Reverte references Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and others in this tension filled, superior novel. So, stick an knife in your shark-hide belt, settle down in your favorite den and prepare for unforgettable adventure.