Captain Jack Aubrey, R.N., ashore after a successful tour of duty, is persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make certain investments in the city. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government espionage, the province of his friend Stephen Maturin. Is Aubrey's humiliation and the threatened ruin of his career a deliberate plot? This dark tale is a fitting backdrop to the brilliant characterization, sparkling dialogue, and meticulous detail which O'Brian's readers have come to expect.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1986 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A great novel. In relentlessly beautiful prose it creates, or recreates, a world of people about whom we care intensely and who come alive all over the globe, on seven seas and seven continents." (Chicago Sun Times)
...and this is my favorite store on the Internet!
Captain Jack Aubrey is many great things. Brilliant tactician, gifted astronomer, navigator and mathematician, and a skilled violinist. He is already a near legendary naval captain commanding both the HMS Surprise and the un-flagging loyalty of his officers, friends and crew.
It is this last thing that will save him.
His good friend Dr. Stephen Maturin observes often that as brilliant as Jack is at sea, he is an easy target on land for just about anything. As an equally talented intelligence agent, Stephen has sailed with Jack since the year two (1802) and together, each in their own way, they have caused such upheaval and damage to the various forces of Napoleonic France as to now be high value targets for enemy agents highly placed in British naval intelligence.
Wiley and dangerous as he is to face at sea, Jack is the weaker link on land, and enemy agents go after him with vicious purpose. His beloved HMS Surprise is being sold out of the service, and Jack is in the fight of his career in a court of law over a conspiracy of charges he has been easily framed for. His career, so much a part of the man himself, is about to shatter, and threatens to take Jack with it.
O'Brian gives rich and exquisite details of life at sea, embedding the reader in the battles and scenes, however the events that take place in the courtroom seem more shocking, perhaps because they are based on the real life events surrounding the trial of Lord Thomas Cochrane for stock fraud. It may have been 200+ years ago, but no less shocking for a justice system.
I have re-read this book more than any in the series. If your eyes are dry by the resolution of the pivotal trial events, you have not been paying attention. You cannot read this series out of order - they truly do run in series - and this book is a prime example of the build up of actions and relationships amongst the many characters and events.
This book shows how completely bamboozled Jack can be on land along with the flip side of how brilliant he can be at sea. I enjoyed this book, it's like visiting old friends, but it does seem like a transition book. There are a few events that move the story forward and a few loose ends from previous volumes are wrapped up but I'm not entirely sure someone could pick up this book and read it without having read the books that came before this one. It neatly sets up the next book and gives Maturin knowledge of the people against them. It also ends rather abruptly, making it feel like the next chapter is merely missing. The whole trial is rather shocking in how completely biased it seems to be and I did like how all the naval men rallied to Jacks side. Simon Vance was wonderful as always. His voices are the same for the different characters from book to book and I like the sound of his voice.
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