Much of the story takes place on land, though Aubrey and Maturin are soon sent on a mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland. There, the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness. The climax of the story is one of those grand, thrilling fleet actions on which the British Navy's supremacy was founded.
Raise anchor! Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1994 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"As always, O'Brian tells his tale with great historical and nautical accuracy. Those who have sailed these seas before will happily go along on this latest voyage." (Publishers Weekly)
"O'Brian's tales offer many pleasures: complex, intriguing plots; strong relationships, particularly the friendship of Aubrey and Maturin; colorful supporting characters; rich historical detail; brisk description of ships and their rigging; and weather and its effects." (Booklist)
I've enjoyed O'Brian's series over the years. They have been great beach books and great long-drive audio books. This is the only book in the series in which I have been dissatisfied. That is not to say it is a poor book, but just quite different in focus and plot. If you are looking for the typical yarn with suspense (as the description promises), you will be unhappy. Without going into the plot, I would characterize it as closer to a series of dialogs between Jack & Stephen, than the usual interplay of sea battles and political intrigues – i.e., more like Before Sunrise than Master & Commander. Perhaps it would be more satisfying in print than as an audio book. Naval battles are quite abridged. The “climax” is rather boring and the final scene is O'brian hit his minimum word count to be paid. Intermediary Naval actions are abbreviated reports by characters after the fact. The only “in the moment” description of a desperate situation is a bout of Yellow Fever.
On the good side, there are interesting historical facts on the slave trade. More in the way of detail than "Wow! I never knew that!" sort of insights into history.
If you are a fan of the series, what can you do? You will read it if only for completeness and form your own opinion. I will not and should not try to dissuade you. If you are new to the series, however, then I suggest you avoid this one until you have read or listened to all the others and then must also take this one on for completeness.
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