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"A marvelously full-flavored, engrossing book, which towers over its current rivals in the genre like a three-decker over a ship's longboat." —Times Literary Supplement
Captain Jack Aubrey arrives in the Dutch East Indies to find himself appointed to the command of the fastest and best-armed frigate in the British Navy. He and his friend, surgeon Stephen Maturin, take passage for England in a dispatch vessel. But before they can reach their destination, the War of 1812 breaks out. Bloody conflict precipitates them into new and unexpected predicaments where Maturin is reunited with his embattled love, Diana Villiers, and his past activities as a secret agent blow back on him with a vengeance.