Desolation Island (Vol. Book 5) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
"The relationship [between Aubrey and Maturin]...is about the best thing afloat....For Conradian power of description and sheer excitement there is nothing in naval fiction to beat the stern chase as the outgunned Leopard staggers through mountain waves in icy latitudes to escape the Dutch seventy-four." —Stephen Vaughan, Observer
Commissioned to rescue Governor Bligh of Bounty fame, Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and surgeon Stephen Maturin sail the Leopard to Australia with a hold full of convicts. Among them is a beautiful and dangerous spy—and a treacherous disease that decimates the crew. With a Dutch man-of-war to windward, the undermanned, outgunned Leopard sails for her life into the freezing waters of the Antarctic, where, in mountain seas, the Dutchman closes.
So far my favorite of the series. Although it follows what now seems to be the pattern of the books: prelude;voyage; conflict; resolution, the backstory was interesting and the character development continues in enlightening ways.
I'm glad there are 21 volumes to this series as I don't want the story to end.