As The Thirteen-Gun Salute opens, Jack Aubrey has been reinstated to his command, and he and his old friend Dr Maturin are sailing on a secret mission with a hand-picked crew, most of them shipmates from the adventures and lucrative voyages of earlier years. But Patrick O'Brian's resourcefulness is a sure warrant that things will not turn out as his readers or characters expect. Twists and turns, sub-plots, echoes from the past, these are the only certainties in this astonishing novel. Distant waters, exotic scenes, flora and fauna to satisfy Maturin's innocent curiosity as well as scope for his cloak and dagger work enrich its flow. The ending leaves the reader more than usually impatient for its successor.