The Letter of Marque by Patrick O'Brian
Published by Norton
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The Letter of Marque by Patrick O'Brian is the twelfth installment in the long-running and much-acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles. Jack Aubrey has been dismissed from the service for a crime he did not commit. Although the loyal support of his naval associates, foremast hands and officers alike, protected him from any bodily harm during his hour in the pillory, the injury to his honor grieves him far worse. The Navy has been his life, his source of identity, and suddenly he has gone from a post-captain, certain to hoist his flag if he can just survive long enough to reach the necessary seniority, to a nothing.
However, his dear friend Stephen Maturin is determined not to let him rot ashore for the rest of his life. With the death of his godfather, Stephen has suddenly become wealthy, and he has decided to put that wealth to the service of his friend's reputation. He has purchased the dear old frigate Surprise, which has recently been taken out of the King's service as being too old to function as a warship. He is now fitting her out to be a private man-of-war, a letter of marque.
Although privateers are often regarded as little better than pirates, taking command of her will get Jack back to sea. Furthermore, if he can win a sufficiently important victory, there is the possibility that he could yet be restored to the Navy List, perhaps even with his old rank. So Jack Aubrey is back at sea, looking for new adventures.
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Review posted February 7, 2000.
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