This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and
Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a
life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room
and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides
as the great ships close in battle.