The infantry soldier, always in the background and far behind in any paintings of pictures of historical moments, such as the Battle of Waterloo. The infantry soldier is usually at the forefront of battles and he or she is usually the first one to die too. But as in all the pictures, all the documents, paintings, stories, songs and history books, the infantry soldier is lost, anonymous as always; faceless and nameless.
As is the case with infantry, we have seamen, marines or naval infantry, who fought and died anonymously in one of the most famous naval battles of all time. Namely, the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle, as is known, took place on October 21 of the year 1805, when the French-Spanish fleet fought the British. There’s many historical books and works of fiction that helped reconstruct the story of the battle, but Spanish writer Perez Reverte decided to write a novel based on the historical facts that took place on that date, although from the point of view of the French-Spanish crew. He even created a fictional ship that never really existed: the Antille.
Perez Reverte chose the structure of a multi-viewpoint novel, in which the main characters belong to three different social classes. Three protagonists: The captain (offering a panoramic view of the ship and combat and making constant remarks about Napoleon’s orders) a young sixteen year old midshipman, loosely reminiscent of the character of Ishmael in “Moby Dick”, and a low class sailor, who has been forcibly recruited into joining the ship crew while he was drunk in a bar and was about to pass out. These three men, together with a lieutenant of the French Imperial Navy, who is at the forefront of the Antille’s sloop maneuvers, explosive cannons and water collisions, help the narrative, plagued with despair and disaster and move forward in an intimate, humorous, anachronistic prose.