We have now reached the 14th book in the series about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Doctor Stephen Maturin. I loved reading this book in August 2001, and again in January 2007, and I loved reading it once again; and in another six or seven years I will probably be re-reading it once more.
We left the crew of the Diana shipwrecked some two days’s sail from Java; after being attacked by pirates and saved by a passing junk, they make their way to Java, where Governor Raffles gives Aubrey a ship to commission into the Navy. Aubrey fits out the Nutmeg and takes it out to search for and take the Cornélie, the French frigate used by the French envoys to get to Pula Prabang in the previous book. Later in the book the Nutmeg stops at a lonely island, and the Doctor takes back to the ship two little girls, the only survivors of their village after everyone else had died of smallpox. The Nutmeg then heads for New South Wales; while Dr. Maturin is quite happy to explore the flora and fauna, the penal colony is quite vicious in the treatment of convicts, with 200 lashes being a common punishment.
There is plenty of action in this book, although I am fairly sure that this book is not high on the list of books recommended by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce (however, the new Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, has vowed to clean things up, and history records that he did indeed do so). And I will soon begin reading the next book in the series.