First, the story; then the narration.
First off, this is a direct sequel to "Master and Commander" in the Aubrey-Maturin series, so you might want to start off with that book (although it is not essential).
This is a fun story with colorful characters set during the Napoleonic era. This story is a bit less nautical than the first one, since we spend a great deal of time with Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin's romantic difficulties as well as Capt. Aubrey's financial ones. We also learn that Stephen Maturin is now working as a spy for Britain. I should add that O'Brian wrote these books intentionally as a series, and thus there is no "denoument" or major resolution at the end of the book...it just stops, to be picked up with the next one.
Regarding the narration: there are two audiobook versions of this series extant; this one narrated by Simon Vance, the other narrated by Patrick Tull. Many reviewers have nailed their colours to the mast in support of one or the other, so I can not resist adding my tuppence-worth:
Simon Vance is a better reader than Patrick Tull, who is a better story-teller. Vance uses different voices for the multiple characters (making dialogues easier to follow) and his modulated British accent makes him easier to understand. Tull's lively reading, gravelly voice and (South England?) accent gave a very nautical flavor to the reading, but also made it harder on American ears to understand. Also, the quality of audio production changed a lot from the early 1990's (Tull) to mid 2000's (Vance). Personally, I prefer Tull's narration style, but I don't think there is any one answer.
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