Captain Jack Aubrey sails away from the brutal Australian prison colonies, returned to his favourite ship the
Surprise, but pondering on middle age and sexual frustration. Furthermore, he soon becomes aware that he is out of touch with the mood of his ship: to his astonishment he finds that in spite of a lifetime's experience he does not know what the foremast hands or even his own officers are thinking. They know, as he does not, that the
Surprise has a stranger aboard, but what they do not know is that the stranger is potentially as dangerous as lighting the powder magazine itself.
(P)1999 HarperCollins UK