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The Thirteen-Gun Salute cover The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian

Published by Norton

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian, which also just happens to be the thirteenth volume in this excellent and long-running series, finds Jack Aubrey still struggling to get his name restored to the Navy List after being unjustly struck from it after being convicted of a crime he didn't commit. His success as captain of a private warship (the dear old Surprise, bought out of the King's service by his closest friend, the Irish physician and sometimes intelligence agent Dr. Stephen Maturin) has at least partly restored his reputation. His case has been further helped by the death of his father, General Aubrey, whose support for the Radicals in Parliament created the animosity that led to the son getting framed. Jack has also been given his father's old Parliamentary seat by the relative who owned the rotten borough it represents.

That last bit is what finally motivates the Admiralty to right the wrong against Jack Aubrey, because there is no better way to keep a Navy officer from making embarassing speeches decrying corruption than to get him off to sea. That is exactly what they do, following his reinstatement to the Navy List with appointment to the Diane and orders to deliver a diplomat to the South Seas to negotiate a treaty with a Malay Sultan.

As always, assignments prove easier said than done, for there are all manner of intrigues in the Sultan's court. The two schemers who contrived the ruin of Aubrey's reputation are lurking about, now working openly for Napoleon. The Sultan's beautiful catamite is up to no good with them. And of course there is always the wealth of unstudied nature to draw away the attentions of Dr. Maturin just when his skills as an intelligence agent are most desperately needed in human society.

The story of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin continues in The Nutmeg of Consolation

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Review posted February 7, 2000.

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