Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Voyages Extraordinaires #40: Mirifiques Aventures de Maître Antifer

It is September 9th, 1831. The captain left his cabin at six o'clock. The sun is rising, or to speak more exactly, its light is illuminating the lower clouds in the east, for its disk is still below the horizon. A long luminous effluence plays over the surface of the sea, which is broken into gentle waves by the morning breeze.

After a calm night there is every promise of a fine day— one of those September days in which the temperate zone occasionally rejoices at the decline of the hot season.

The captain rests against the skylight on the poop, places the telescope to his right eye, and sweeps the horizon.

Captain Antifer, as it often is titled in English, is a treasure-hunt story. Pierre Antifer, a gruff, sarcastic, and stubborn Breton sailor, is the son of a man who did the wealthy Kamylk Pasha, of Egypt, an extraordinarily important favor. Because of this, the Kamylk Pasha, who wanted to keep his immense fortune from his treacherous family, sent Antifer's father part of the instructions for finding where the Pasha had buried it all -- in particular, the latitude. Another person who had done the Kamylk Pasha a great favor has been given the longitude. And when the two are united, they set off to find a fortune. Dragged along is Antifer's friend Gildas Tregomain, and his nephew, Juhel, who dreads the treasure, because he knows that if Antifer finds it, Juhel will not be allowed to marry the love of his life, Enogate. But the Kamylk Pasha has decided not to make the treasure hunt easy; before the end, they will have had to visit the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Guinea, Edinburgh, and the very northern island of Spitzbergen, in the Svalbard archipelago, and finally the mysterious final destination -- where the result of the hunt will not be what anyone expected when they began.

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