I read this book about 30-Jan-2011. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2004. This note was last modified Sunday, 08-May-2011 18:20:37 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Subtitled "The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey."
There are only three chapters of this; it's very thin even with everything in it twice (typeset pages facing facsimiles of the manuscript pages).
It took a long time for them to bring this out—O'Brian died in January of 2000, and this was published in 2004. And I didn't read it until now.
So, we start off with Stephen writing to Christine, who he is courting and has already proposed marriage to once. This is used to recap; and Stephen thinks about things he can't write down, too, and we hear about those. I've been noticing more recap in these later books; there's more that has gone before, of course.
My; we've got Jack's natural son Sam in Rio as papal legate. And they put down the incipient revolution, quietly, and also show people that the Royal Navy isn't totally anti-Catholic (by visiting, and conducting Stephen and the Catholic hands ashore to hear mass).
Sounds like the Admiral that Jack is under is going to be trouble. And there's some sort of developing thread about social problems back at home, between the children.
Ah; Steven cleverly solves that problem by having eveybody fetched over by the Ringle (mind you, that's over from England to South America; and then they are to accompany the squadron to Africa). That's a lot of traveling. Apparently Steven thinks being at sea will give Bridgit enough power to hold her own, and that she's a generous enough girl to use it just to balance up and establish a decent relationship. And I believe he's going to be shown to be correct.
And I'm to the end of the part he left a typescript of. The evil bastards continue with just the manuscript. So I'm trying to puzzle out what's going on from the somewhat reduced facsimile handwriting. This is challenging.
It does appear that Stephen is insulted and struck by Jack's neighbor who is also the Admiral's cousin. Oh, and who was at Trinity Dublin with Stephen. He's been paying too much attention to Christine, both at home and now onboard ship, to the extent where Christine asks Stephen to tell him not to visit without an invitation. The cousin gives Stephen the lie directly, and strikes him. This apparently is understood as the challenge, giving Stephen the choice of weapons (which is not how I understood this to work at all). He's a soldier, and expert with pistol, but apparently completely incompetent with swords. Stephen suspects this and chooses sword. The cousin makes a horrid fuss, but the seconds hold him to it. The admiral also sends a message that if he doesn't fight he will be dead socially.
Stephen wins easily, with little damage to anybody. I can't think this is really the end of it, since he's not a smart man.
I've probably missed subtleties in the manuscript part. Perhaps I'll look more closely sometime.
So, that's pretty definitely that, then.