Loving someone, in a time of war and divided loyalties, can be the greatest risk of all.
Ordered home by despatch vessel, Captain Jack Aubrey and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin have been tasked with bringing the news of the latest victory in the war with America back to the government in Britain. But Maturin is a marked man for the havoc he has wrought upon the French intelligence network in the New World, and the attentions of two privateers who pursue their ship soon become menacing.
In this man's world of seamanship and war, will a dangerous but fascinating woman redress the balance?
‘I have no particular interest in the sailing or fighting of square‐rigged ships, but I’ve never been so attached to any fictional characters in my life.’
‘A swelling tide of intrigue and adventure in the best tradition.’
‘If O’Brian’s novels have become a cult, this is because they are truly addictive. . . They are, quite magnificently, adventure yarns whose superb authenticity never distracts from the sheer thrill of the action.’
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
‘The Aubrey–Maturin novels, by Patrick O’Brian, are so addictive that after I finish one I have to hide the next from myself for a little while in order to do anything else but read.’
‘In Aubrey and Maturin, Patrick O’Brian has created two of the most enjoyable characters in twentieth-century fiction. Their relationship sustains an absorbing and thrilling sequence of naval stories, unrivalled in their complexity, full of impeccable detail and psychological insight. O’Brian switches from the intimate to the epic with equal assurance. One of the greatest authors to sail with.’
‘My hero is Patrick O’Brian. It’s basically impossible to write that well.’
‘One of the most compelling and brilliant novelists of his time . . . Beyond his superbly elegant writing, wit and originality, Patrick O’Brian showed an understanding of the nature of a floating world at the mercy of the wind and the sea which has never been surpassed.’
Max Hastings, Evening Standard
‘I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s twenty-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog.’
‘Written with most engaging enthusiasm that can’t fail to give pleasure to anybody who enjoys historical adventure flavoured with more than a dash of realism.’
The Sunday Times
‘One of the most brilliantly sustained pieces of historical fictional writing this century.’
James Teacher, Spectator
‘Patrick O’Brian brings depth to his sea-stories with outstanding dialogue, characterisation, humour and a golden thread of romance. You don’t have to love books about naval battles to become entranced.’
About the author
Patrick O’Brian was born in 1914 and published his first book, Caesar, when he was only fifteen. In the 1960s he began work on the idea that, over the next four decades, evolved into the twenty-novel long Aubrey–Maturin series (with an extra unfinished volume published posthumously). In 1995 he was awarded the CBE, and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.
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.