I read this book about 28-Apr-2005. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1970. This note was last modified Tuesday, 06-May-2014 13:19:17 PDT.
This is book 1 of the "Aubrey-Maturin" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
First of the Aubrey/Maturin books. And to think I could have started reading these as far back as 1970!
With a lovely cover by Geoff Hunt; we see the stern of the Sophie, one of the masts, plus a small boat with 4 oars rowing an officer past.
Some people have reported trouble getting into the series until the next book, but for me, this one sucked me right in. The opening scene has Aubrey meeting Maturin at a chamber-music concert -- and almost challenging each other to a duel. The musical setting I see as a reference to Horatio Hornblower, who was tone deaf. It's a simultaneous homage and declaration of independence.
And then the rest of the book is a microcosm of pretty much everything that makes the series fine. There's the life ashore in a strange town, the life at sea, combat, prizes, prisoners of war, reversals of fortune, natural philosophy, music, military intelligence, romantic intrigues, Irish rebellions, and court cases. Killick appears by name, and Barrett Bonden appears in person. The only really important character missing is Diana (who turns up quite early in the next book).
Aubrey comes close to ruining his career by being his admiral's wife's lover, and gets the information to take his prizes from his lover at the inn he stays in.
There is also the action where the Sophie takes the Cacafuego (what a name!), with a 10:1 disadvantage in broadside, and nearly that in men. "The lovely thing about fighting the Spanish is not that they are shy, for they are not, but that they are never ready."