The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian

Published by Norton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian is the eighth installment in the much-acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles. It begins with Dr. Stephen Maturin newly wed to his beautiful but spirited love, Diana Villiers. However, all is not well in their relationship. Things are also getting bad for Jack Aubrey, for while he is very wise in the ways of the sea, life on land is a mystery to him and he is easily taken in by a montebank who claims to be able to make a fortune extracting lead and silver from the tailings of an old mine on his land. Now that scheme has proven a scam, and Aubrey is once again in danger of being imprisoned for debt.

They get little time to sort things out, for Jack Aubrey has a new command, a ship of the line, and he will not sail without his old friend as surgeon aboard it. Off they head to the Mediterranean, where they are to blockade the French fleet at Toulon. However, they are also to deliver a group of parsons to Malta.

Malta is a hotbed of deceit and trouble, and Stephen Maturin soon becomes involved with efforts to root out a French spy ring. But he does not get to stay in port overlong, for Jack gets orders to set sail for the Turkish-held Greek isles and deal with a French force there. However, this will be complicated by the necessity of dealing with the intricate ins and outs of Turkish culture.

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Review posted January 17, 2000

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