The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O'Brian

Published by Norton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Nutmeg of Consolation, the fourteenth of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles, finds Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin in a desperate way. A shipwreck has left them stranded on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. Just when they seemed about to get back to sea in a schooner built from the wreckage of the Diane, they are set upon by Malay raiders. Suddenly their only hope for getting off the island is reduced to so much charred wood.

Or maybe not their only hope, as Stephen Maturin discovers while investigating the nesting places of an odd little swift whose gluey nest is used by the Chinese for bird's-nest soup. A chance encounter with three children sent from a Chinese junk to collect the nests turns into rescue through the doctor's skills at bone-setting. Soon the survivors of the Diane are off to Batavia.

There Jack takes command of a new ship in the process of being built, which he names the Nutmeg of Consolation after one of the flowery titles of the Malay Sultan. Off they head through the South Pacific toward Australia, to yet more adventures at sea and on land.

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Review posted February 7, 2000.

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