All of Patrick O'Brian's strengths are on parade in this novel of action and intrigue, set partly in Malta, partly in the treacherous, pirate-infested waters of the Red Sea. While Captain Aubrey worries about repairs to his ship, Stephen Maturin assumes the center stage, for the stockyards and salons of Malta are alive with Napoleon's agents and the admiralty's intelligence networks is compromised. Maturin's cunning is the sole bulwark against sabotage of Aubrey's daring mission.… (more)
Smoothe runnes the Water, where the Brooke is deepe, And in his simple shew he harbours Treason. (2 Henry VI)
A gentle breeze from the north-west after a night of rain, and the washed sky over Malta had a particular quality in its light that sharpened the lines of the noble buildings, bringing out all the virtue of the stone; the air too was a delight to breathe, and the city of Valletta was as cheerful as though it were fortunate in love or as thought it had suddenly heard good news.
Stephen said, but to himself alone, 'I too shall write a letter. Not more than eight or nine men knew the contents of Jack's orders; and if that does not enable Wray to lay his hands upon the prime chief Judas, then there is the very Devil in it.'