Having escaped the American naval forces, Aubrey and Maturin make their way home from North America on a packet ship. Diana is residing in Paris, leaving Stephen free to continue his dangerous work for the Admiralty. The fortress of Grimsholm on the Baltic is crucial to Napoleon’s plans and Stephen and Jack embark on a daring mission to persuade the Catalan garrison to defect. When a disastrous storm leads to their capture and imprisonment in France, Diana risks everything to attempt a rescue. Yet her erstwhile protector, the one man who can definitely identify Stephen, is also in Paris – and determined on revenge.
This superb novel, the seventh in the Aubrey-Maturin series, sweeps the reader from the Atlantic to the Baltic, and thence to a Parisian jail, and features spies, a famous diamond and numerous cameos from real historical figures such as the admiral Sir James Saumarez.
Read more about the life and work of Patrick O'Brian
In 1991, an article appeared in The New York Times entitled ‘An Author I’d Walk the Plank For’. Like millions of readers around the world, the writer, Richard Snow, had become addicted to Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series. Set against the sprawling canvas of the Napoleonic Wars, O’Brian’s naval adventure novels evoke this period in history like no others. Their success is down to the vim and vigour of O’Brian’s prose, his extraordinary eye for period detail and his ear for language. In Snow’s words: ‘O’Brian summoned up with casual omniscience the workaday magic of a vanished time.’
The partnership between Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin is at the heart of Patrick O’Brian’s masterful series. Beyond the beautifully textured period setting and the thrilling skirmishes and naval battles (many based on real events), the popularity of the novels stems from these two engaging, intriguing protagonists, with Aubrey’s passionate nature providing a marvellous foil for Maturin’s more enigmatic character. Two centuries may separate us from them, but O’Brian creates an utterly compelling portrait of two men and a world at war.