Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of their beginning, with Master and Commander, these evocative stories are being re-issued in paperback with smart new livery. This is the seventeenth book in the series. Jack Aubrey's long service is at last rewarded: he is promoted to the rank of Commodore and given a squadron of ships to command. His mission is twofold -- to make a large dent in the slave trade off the coast of Africa and, on his return, to intercept a French fleet set for Bantry Bay with a cargo of weapons for the disaffected among the Irish. Invention and surprise follow at every turn in this tale of nineteenth-century seamanship, as rich, as compelling, as masterly as any of its predecessors.