Patrick O e (tm)Brian e (tm)s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written.
H.M.S. Surprise follows the variable fortunes of Captain Jack Aubrey e (tm)s career in Nelson e (tm)s navy as he attempts to hold his ground against admirals, colleagues and the enemy, accepting a mission to convey a British ambassador to the East Indies. The voyage takes him and his friend Stephen Maturin to the strange sights and smells of the Indian sub-continent, and through the archipelago of spice islands where the French have a near-overwhelming superiority.
Rarely has a novel managed to convey more vividly the fragility of a sailing ship in a wild sea. Rarely has a historical novelist combined action and lyricism of style in the way that O e (tm) Brian does. His superb sense of place, brilliant characterisation, and a vigour and joy of writing lift O e (tm)Brian above any but the most exalted of comparisons.