The language in which the novel has originally been written is French, although a Spanish translation made by Perez Reverte himself, with the aid of his Spanish mother has been published and it is said to be the closest translation available of that book, first published in the Nineties. The many dialects, the onomatopoeic sounds and the technical jargon are all interwoven in a solid fashion. This adds a strong sense of verisimilitude to the plot. Thus, the author succeeds in blending reality and fiction into a realistic lump.
Although the novel echoes the phlegmatic maritime tales of Patrick O’Brian, the author manages to inject a great deal of black humor, which brings us a bit closer to history. The text is also a corrosive denunciation. It is evident that Perez Reverte is simply an artisan of narration. Halfway into the book, the reader will be so absorbed by the story that it would not be shocking if one encounters oneself smelling the gunpowder, feel the salty winds and hear the explosions. By then, will probably suffer as much for the lives of these characters as themselves, as if living their odyssey in the flesh. These characters do not fight for patriotism or for money; they fight desperately for their lives, although deep down they know that today is the day they are going to die.
And so the crew of the Antille die irrevocably, one by one, until the Royal Navy sinks her completely, dismasted; a ship that, from the very beginning, had navigated right into failure; a ship and a crew whose fates had already been sealed. In the final sequence, although all is lost, the low class sailor climbs up the mast to raise the French flag, amidst the countless of English bullets that soar the air around him, some of them hitting him and shattering his bones.