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"Vividly detailed 19th-century settings and dramatic tension punctuated with flashes of wry humor make O'Brian's nautical adventure a splendid treat." —Publishers Weekly
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their latest victory to the government. But Maturin is a marked man for the havoc he has wrought in the French intelligence network in the New World, and the attention of two privateers soon becomes menacing. The chase that follows through the fogs and shallows of the Grand Banks is as tense, and as unexpected in its culmination, as anything Patrick O'Brian has written.
O'Brian's superb series on the early-19th-century adventures of Jack Aubrey, a Royal Navy officer, and his friend Stephen Maturin, Navy surgeon and naturalist, continues with a look at the darker side of Maturin's life: his work in British intelligence. Aubrey, Maturin and Diana Villiers (Maturin's fickle and enigmatic love) are passengers on a packet ship from Nova Scotia to England when two American privateers give chase. They are hunting Maturin, who has compromised U.S. spy networks. The Americans are eluded, and upon reaching England, Maturin sets off to France. Armed with safe conduct papers, he lectures on natural history and installs Villiers in Paris. Suspicious French agents try to bait Maturin but he refuses to be lured into an indiscretion. On his return to London, Maturin is sent to woo Catalan officers and troops from the French cause to the British. Aubrey provides transport, but despite his best support, including staging a splendid charade chase on the water, the mission takes a nasty turn when their ship founders; seized by the French, Maturin and Aubrey are hauled off to Paris's infamous Temple Prison.