" Overall, I am a huge fan of the series in general and O'Brian's writing in particular. His style is wonderful--there is hardly a better master of subtle and super-subtle irony going. But with this and the previous entry in the series, I feel as if the energy is flagging a little bit. As he has done several times in the past, O'Brian turns to ringing subtle changes on characters we have met previously by introducing new characters that chime with them in interesting ways. Enter Clarissa Oakes. Except that this time the new character seems to be a much more pallid version of Diana Villiers and Louisa Wogan. Naturally, she becomes the means for Maturin to ferret out (perhaps) the last of the nest of spies that has been a major part of the story arc for the previous six or seven novels. As interesting as parts of this several novel south seas interlude has been, I am eager to see O'Brian bring the series back to Europe and to the main sphere of action. Of course there are difficulties with that, since in the time frame he is working with, the British Navy has little to offer a ship of the line captain (such as Aubrey) except blockade duty. Here's hoping O'Brian racked his brains and came up with an interesting solution to these problems in the series' final quarter and returns the focus in some ways to the interactions between Aubrey and Maturin. On a different note (and I can't remember if I have remarked on this before--here's hoping that if I did, I write about differently this time), it is endlessly fascinating to see how O'Brian starts each of these novels off with a unique prÃ©cis that doesn't repeat all the other little summaries he has given, just in case there is some reader out there who picked up the series in the middle. "
— Nelson, 2/6/2014