You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Treason's Harbor

Treason's Harbor is the ninth book in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. Most of the action takes place in the city of Valletta in Malta, an island nation south of Sicily. There are French agents everywhere. Jack and Stephen befriend an Italian woman named Laura Fielding, who gives Italian lessons to the English sailors and has an English husband sailor who has been captured by the French. The French agents have used her imprisoned husband as a way to get her to turn against the English and supply them with information about the movements of the English navy.

Stephen Maturin eventually finds all this out and is convinced he must help Laura. He is carefully watched by the French spies. Also, one of the English intelligent agents is also a French spy, and is reporting on his activities to the French. Lips are loose all over the island, and it is common knowledge that the English are planning a mission to the Red Sea.

Jack is chosen for the Red Sea mission, and he and his men take the Dromedary, a transport ship, across the Mediterranean to Port Said, to cross the Suez to the Red Sea. Stephen brings a diving bell, a great brass structure that enables two men to go below the surface for extended periods of time. They take another ship into the sea, facing strong winds and then dead calm. When they finally reach their destination, the galley they are after races for a port and is sunk by a shot from the ship. They use Stephen's bell to bring up a chest, which is found to contain not gold, but lead. It seems that news of their plans had reached the enemy and they had tried to lay a trap.

They travel back to Suez and cross to the Mediterranean, Stephen and his friend Mr. Martin enjoy the flora and fauna. Soon, Mrs. Fielding's husband turns up, and Stephen's suspicions are confirmed: he had escaped, and the letters she had been receiving were forged. He knows that if news of her husbands rescue reaches Malta, she is as good as dead. And when the ship reaches Valletta, he finds other ships have reached the port ahead of them. A tense scene follows, where Stephen hides in her house and waits as two French spies enter and plot to kill her. Finally they leave and when Mrs. Fielding arrives he takes her to the Surprise. She travels with them on the way to Gibraltar, but before they reach their destination, they are attacked by French ships. The admiral's ship is destroyed, and the Surprise makes a narrow escape.

The story is exciting from the start to the end. The intrigue in the port keeps the tension from the first chapter. We get to see a good bit of both Stephen and Jack in this installment. They travel to interesting places, and it's great to hear about Malta and Said and other places in the Mediterranean. There are also fun chases and battles, and of course lots of nautical terminology. I'll give it an A-, and I am looking forward to the next installment.


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