One of the better of the series, perhaps because, as O'Brian explains in his introduction, he has mined out the history books for dramatic sea stories of the time, so is turning to strictly fictional action for this book.
This time, Aubrey's beloved Surprise, apparently headed for the boneyard, is instead drafted to try to cut off an American war ship before it turns the Cape of Good Horn to prey on English whalers. Through doldrums and storms, he comes up short, which takes the chase into the South Seas where a dramatic rescue of Aubrey and Matarin from a tiny coral outcrop and the stranding of the pair with a small contingent from the Surprise on a not-quite deserted island makes for some fine dramatic and comic writing (and reading!).
This is my first O'Brian book, and after reading it, I can surely state that it will be my last! I don't get all the furor about what a great series this is, because I found that, even though I finished the book, I didn't enjoy it very much. The plot (what there was of it) moved at a snail's pace, and kept getting interrupted by naturalist lectures and other really boring asides between the characters. There was more than enough going on with nautical terms that had me scratching my head in puzzlement, … more
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Captain Jack Aubrey sets sail for Cape Horn, determined to intercept an American frigate before it can wreak havoc on the British whaling trade. As always, he is accompanied by intelligence operative Stephen Maturin, and as always, Aubrey has no idea of what his companion is up to. Another impeccably written adventure, by the end of which you should be able to identify a mizzen topsail in your sleep.