The book starts out with Jack, reduced to half pay while he awaits a command, surrounded by his family (and mother in law) in a shabby English country “estate” where he is proving unequivocally that he does not have the makings of a farmer.
One day his friend Steven visits and announces that Jack will receive orders and a command. Jack’s assignment: assume command of a small fleet and retake two islands in the Indian Ocean from the French.
Dean King, with John B. Hattendorf and J. Worth Estes, authored this third edition subtitled “A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O’Brian.”
This is a perfect example of a good “grazing book.” You can dip into it at any time and find something interesting.
What comes across in the pages of this novel is real, palpable, and authentic sounding. Reading about the friendship of Jack Aubrey and physician Maturin, with side references to music, science, medicine, Ireland, the Catalan language, courts martial, outdoor dinner parties disrupted by drunken sailors, and old Barcelona, is as vivid as history can get.