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.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Wine-Dark Sea

Patrick O'Brian's The Wine-Dark Sea is the 16th book in his Aubrey-Maturin series. It has two great naval adventures with an adventure on land in between.

The Surprise is in the Pacific chasing a American privateer. When they catch the Franklin, they taker her owner, Monsieur Dutourd, into custody. Jack warns Dutourd that he will be in dire trouble since he does not have a letter of marque. The Surprise captures a real pirate ship, the Alastor, which had been preying on British ships.

They settle into port in Peru, where Stephen resumes his mission of changing the government to one more friendly to Britain. But his mission is complicated when Dutourd escapes to the mainland and begins spreading rumors that Stephen is a British spy. Stephen is forced to travel through the Andes, where we receive a good dose of travelogue.

With the news of three American trading ships headed for the cape, Jack takes the ship south. They encounter the rough seas of the high southern latitudes, and eventually discover the three American ships. But then another ship, and American frigate, shows up to challenge them. The Surprise loses a mast and her rudder before she manages to escape from the frigate and the dangerous ice. Rudderless, she finally encounters friendly ships at the end of the story.

The great thing about the story is that the characters really come alive. The minister turned surgeon's mate, Martin, becomes ill from clothes soaked in salt water, and comes to believe his illness is divine retribution for his sin with Clarissa Oakes. Stephen Maturin begins to wonder about his wife and the daughter he has never met. Captain Aubrey takes a boat across rough waters in order to warn Stephen that Dutourd has escaped and has changed the strategic situation. As usual, the two of them play music together, with the occasional help of Martin.

The story is always exciting with a sea battle, a sea chase, or intrigue on land. Jack has to use every bit of skill and strategy to capture enemy ships, or even just to survive. This is one of the better books in the series. A-


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