I am in the midst of reading the Aubrey series of books at present. This is a publishers blurb on the books content. I have not yet read this particular book but have read 10 others by O'brian and cannot but believe that the quality and high standards that are apparent in these works are not exisitent in this particular volumn.
Originally published in 1956, this is O'Brian's first novel of the sea. But it is more than just a curiosity from the author of the 16 wonderful Aubrey/Maturin books, it can stand on its own as an entertaining and psychologically astute narrative. Based on British Commodore George Anson's four-year circumnavigation that began in 1740, the book focuses on young midshipman Peter Palafox. A younger son of a poor Irish parson, Peter is sweet-natured, impetuous and innocent . Much of the narrative follows his evolution into a capable seaman with a talent for leadership and--after the capture of large sums of Spanish gold and silver--into a rich man. This early work has practically all the naval lore and sense of place that grace the Aubrey/Maturin books; the scenes in China are particular standouts. Shipboard life rings true, the story never flags and humor abounds: "Well, he is a wonderful poacher for a Protestant," observes one Anglo-Irishman. O'Brian says he wrote the book in about six weeks, "laughing most of the time," and one believes him.
Fantaastic story. The characters are colorful and memorable. This tale is gripoping.