Treason's Harbour by Patrick O'Brian
Published by Norton
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Treason's Harbour by Patrick O'Brian is the ninth volume of the Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles. The opening of the book finds the protagonists in Malta, their ship so badly damaged by the final spectacular engagement in the last book that it cannot sail until it receives extensive repairs. Malta is not a good place for sailors to linger overlong, what with the many temptations it offers for indiscipline and indulgence. Aubrey soon despairs of being able to turn his crew back around and have an effective fighting force when he does get them back to sea.
Finally the old ship of the line Worchester is determined to require too extensive of repairs to be economical. Instead Aubrey will return to his dear old frigate, Surprise, and set sail for Egypt.
In the Suez he and his forces land to help the Turkish forces maintain control against a French scheme in the Red Sea. In those days before the cutting of the Suez Canal, this meant a long and arduous overland trip through the desert. Many of the Bedouin tribes had no compunctions whatsoever against robbing strangers, and the desert itself is an unforgiving place to those who do not know its ways.
However, this is not the only difficulty facing our intrepid duo, for Stephen Maturin must still deal with the problem of a French spy ring who is blackmailing the wife of a Royal Navy officer into revealing damaging information. Maturin is growing steadily more convinced that this woman's husband has escaped capture, and the French will murder the woman once they know they no longer have any hold on her.
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Review posted January 17, 2000
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