The Commodore by Patrick O'Brian

Published by Norton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Commodore by Patrick O'Brian, the seventeenth volume of the Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles, finds Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin home again after their long voyage in the South Seas. However, things are not at all well. Stephen's daughter is strangely disturbed, and his high-strung wife cannot deal with it. She has left the little girl in the care of the widowed Clarissa Oakes. This has led to conflict between Jack Aubrey and his wife, who believes that Clarissa has been his mistress during the long voyage from Australia.

Things go from bad to worse when Stephen discovers that his intelligence work has made him powerful enemies in London. Suddenly he must get himself, his daughter and Clarissa out of England before they conspire to destroy them.

The means comes through Jack's being appointed as a commodore of the first class (effectively a rear-admiral, but without the necessity of a true promotion and thus the promotions of everyone above him on the Navy List) with orders to interdict the slave trade in Africa. Off they head to the Bight of Benin, to brave slavers and disease. Yet Stephen Maturin keeps up a measure of hope, for there also live many strange and fascinating animals which he longs to study.

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Review posted March 3, 2000.

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