This is the fourth book in the Aubrey – Maturin series of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. I first read this book in August of 2001, and again in December of 2006, and I very much enjoyed reading this book once again.
Jack Aubrey is now married to Sophie, and has found out the realities of married life; he and Sophie have a small cottage in dire need of repair, a pathetic kitchen garden, twin infant girls, Sophie’s young niece, and Sophie’s mother, who lost her money (and Sophie’s as well) through bad investments and is now living with them, along with some of her own furniture. Fortunately, Stephen Maturin rescues Aubrey with the news that Aubrey will be a commodore with a small fleet of ships, with the goal of taking the French islands of Mauritius and La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.
Aubrey sets sail in HMS Boadicea, along with Maturin and the hopeful English governor of the islands, once the are conquered. Once at Cape Town, Africa, Audrey meets with the ships of his fleet; his Captains under him include Captain Corbett, who believes in severe punishment for any of his crew who commits an infraction (especially of not keeping his ship spotlessly clean), and Lord Clonfort, who lives for the unqualified approval of everyone with whom he comes in contact. Maturin, meanwhile, is doing his best to subvert the soldiers under the French through his Fifth Column activities.
I very much enjoyed re-reading this book (which has the first reference to “the horrible old Leopard“), and I will soon be reading the next book in the series.
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