This is the sixth book in the Hornblower series. One of the best. These books can stand on their own. The time is May, 1810, deep into the Napoleonic Wars. Hornblower, newly in command of his first ship of the line is on his way to Spain with a ragtag, brutish crew. All their seamanship and all of Hornblower's ingenuity are demanded when the "Sutherland" takes on four French men-of-war.
This is a must read series of books not only for he fans of naval fiction but for those that enjoy historical novels and detailed character developement.