In this installment of O'Brian's maritime epic, Captain Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise
are pursuing an American privateer through the Great South Sea. As is his custom, O'Brian grabs your attention with the first, beautifully memorable sentence: "A purple ocean, vast under the sky and devoid of all visible life apart from two minute ships racing across its immensity." And he doesn't relinquish it until 260 pages later, by which point Jack Aubrey is delighted at the mere fact of being alive.
From Publishers Weekly
Though the Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin books can be profitably read separately, as fans know, together they read as one long, wonderful novel. This 16th installment (following The Truelove ) is no doubt the best chapter yet. In the early 1800s, Bluff Jack, captain of the privateer Surprise , steers his frigate across the Pacific to South America, around Cape Horn and into the Atlantic, taking French and American prizes, fighting off a Yankee Man of War and suffering dire eye and leg wounds for his trouble. Subtle Stephen, ship's doctor and British intelligence agent, almost pulls off a coup in Peru and must escape across the Andes, losing some toes to frostbite for his efforts. Favorite characters reappear here: Killick, Jack's crabby steward; Sarah and Emily Sweeting, precocious Melanesian waifs attached to Maturin's sick-berth; Sam, Jack's illegitimate black son and rising Churchman. The naval actions are bang-on and bang-up--fast, furious and bloody--and the Andean milieu is as vivid as the shipboard scenes. As usual, readers can revel in the symbiotic friendship of Jack and Stephen, who make for a marvelous duo, whether in their violin and cello duets or in their sharp dialogue. If O'Brian hasn't quite had a break-out book yet, then this deserves to be it. 40,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the