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.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Thirteen-Gun Salute

The Thirteen-Gun Salute is the 13th novel in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. It takes the pair from England to the South China Sea.

Jack Aubrey has just been reinstated as a captain in the Royal Navy, after being stricken from the rolls due to a stock scandal case in the previous book. He takes the Surprise, now a privateer, out with Stephen Maturin. They are called away by Sir Joseph Blaine, who wishes Jack to take the Diane, which Jack captured in the previous book and the Navy put in service, to a distant country to help a treaty get signed. They will meet with the Surprise at a prearranged rendezvous.

They take with them Ambassador Fox and his servants. Fox turns out to be an unpleasant man who is full of himself, though he is very capable.

The voyage to Pulo Prabang, near modern-day Malaysia, is generally uneventful. The action starts when the ship reaches its destination. In addition to the English contingent, the French have sent a ship with their own ambassadors, including the English traitors Wray and Ledward. Dr. Maturin makes connections with the locals, including a fellow naturalist. He schemes against Wray and the French. Things fall his way when the Sultan's pleasure boy is found with Wray and Ledward. The boy is executed, and the two traitors barely escape with their own lives. Later, they are found dead, and Stephen brings them in to his naturalist friend for dissection.

With the French disgraced, Fox gets the English treaty signed. Captain Aubrey takes the Diane out, and Fox quickly makes himself disagreeable with the rest of the crew. They sail around looking for the Surprise, stopping at several islands. Before they can make the rendezvous, the ship runs aground on an hidden reef. As the tide goes down, Jack empties the water, canon, and stores from the ship to a nearby island. He sends Fox ahead to Batavia in a boat. Soon after, a storm comes up and breaks the ship apart, leaving the men stranded on the island.

I found the book a little hard to get into at first. The voyage out took too long and was too uneventful. But the action with the Sultan is exciting and suspenseful. Stephen Maturin visits a Buddhist temple on a mountain, providing a nice side story. The usual wit and charm is prevalent throughout the book. Fox turns out to be an interesting character, capable and cunning, but somehow clueless and arrogant, to the point that he ends up being the butt of jokes. I think this book, while good, is not one of the best of the series. I'll give it a B.


Blogger rob's uncle said...

Re: ' . .after being stricken from the rolls . .' Not 'stricken' - 'struck'! 'Stricken: [pa. pple. of STRIKE v.]
A. pa. pple. in special sense. (For other uses see STRIKE v.) stricken in years (earlier stricken on, in age, in elde): advanced in years. arch. (See also STRUCK, STRUCKEN.) The pple. in these phrases belongs to STRIKE v. in the INtransitive sense ‘to go’.

See: I. 1. intr. To make one's way, go. In early use chiefly poet. In later use, chiefly with adv. (forth, forward, over) or phrase indicating the direction. Obs. exc. arch.' [OED] - my emphasis.

10:05 AM, March 28, 2008  

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