At the time of his death, Patrick O'Brian was halfway through a novel that continued the famous and much-loved Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin series. The chapters left off with a moment of almost perfect felicity: Jack has seen his illegitimate son ably discharging important duties, Sophie and his daughters are with him, Stephen has a new love, and Jack, at last, is flying a rear-admiral's flag aboard a ship of the line. These final chapters have been combined with the historical background to the Aubrey/Maturin series, a straightforward exploration of daily life in Nelson's navy. Many questions about naval life are answered in O'Brian's elegant narrative, which includes wonderful anecdotal material on the battles and commanders that established Britain's naval supremacy.
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