The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O'Brian

Published by Norton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O'Brian, the eleventh volume of the Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles, opens with our heros back in England after their arduous adventures in the Pacific. In fact, this book takes place almost entirely on land, showing us just how a captain who can be quite wise in the ways of the sea can prove utterly lost on land.

Jack Aubrey is still having financial trouble after his misfortunes with a mountebank who promised to extract lead and silver from the tailings of an old mine on his land. A few discreet inquiries reveal that none of the lawsuits related to this incident have come to court yet, and thus he is not in immediate danger of arrest for debt. However, his finances can use some major help.

Thus he becomes involved in an investment scheme involving company stocks. However, here again his ignorance of business ashore proves his downfall, and he is suddenly accused of being involved in a scheme to deliberately manipulate the stock market and defraud shareholders. Worse yet, these accusations appear to have been put forth in an attempt to damage his father, General Aubrey, who has been making a great deal of trouble by supporting the Radicals in Parliament.

Overall, fans of the Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles will enjoy seeing yet another installment in the adventures of their old friends. The only complaint I could level against it is that it doesn't really stand on its own, but seems primarily a buildup to the next volume, The Letter of Marque.

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Review posted February 7, 2000.

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