Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The Nautical Chart - Arturo Perez-Reverte

It's always intriguing to read a book where you find none of the characters appealing. I could understand their motivations, empathised when they came up against (frequent) obstacles, and found the resolution satisfying - the best man won. However, they were all as bad as each other in so many ways that the journeys they each took were much more an impetus to continue reading than just wanting to know what happened to them. Tanger, so secretive and seemingly perfect (at least in the eyes of the hero, Manuel Coy), is cold and materialistic to a fault. Her fears of dying alone come across as the construction they turn out to be, reeling Coy in closer to her, ensuring his continued efforts will lead her towards her hidden goal. On the other hand, Coy opens up his life to pretty much anyone who notices him, and it also isn't that appealing. His propensity to violence, his hopeless devotion to Tanger, his lack of control all add up to someone you watch through your fingers, waiting for the next catastrophe to envelope him.

Be that as it may, this brine-drenched yarn of pirates, Jesuits and old sea-dogs lures you in. You know there will be treasure and hurricanes aplenty, and it does not disappoint. The plot and the secrets of the deep keep you reading, not the characters, but this doesn't mean it's not enjoyable, or that the characters are 2D. This is a complex story in places, with seventeenth century politics rearing their ugly head on occasion, but the thrill of the chase and the tang of the sea keep you whipping through the pages until the shock of the climax.

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