And the drumbeat continues. I just finished The Ionian Mission, the next Aubrey-Maturin novel. O’Brian must have felt the momentum of his series building by this time, since he spends very few pages on (re)introducing his cast of characters before launching them off to the Toulon blockade. Overall, this stanza feels like a quieter part of the tale, with more focus on life in the Royal Navy, especially its privations and boredom. The mission of the book’s title comes at the end, as Aubrey and Maturin are dispatched to help choose between three potential allies, all of whom are nominally Turkish, but quite independent minded. The plan is simple enough: pick the right leader to ally with and provide guns to them in exchange for (armed) help moving the French out of a nearby town. There are many competing agendas, however, and Aubrey makes his choice somewhat abruptly, based on personal rather than political opinions. He salvages his reputation, though, by routing two larger ships sailed by one of the jilted would-be allies after they had pirated the guns meant for Aubrey’s chosen ally. O’Brian ends the battle on the last page, so I’ll have to pick up the next one to learn whether the French are displaced from the village in question (Marga) and whether Aubrey is appropriately recognized for his victorious actions. Since his superior officer is someone whom Aubrey cuckolded many years earlier (and the officer knows it), true reward seems… unlikely.
BOOK: The Ionian Mission
August 17th, 2003 · No Comments