Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the Admiralty by his erratic voting as a member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong Navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; and he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack’s exploits at sea turn sour when, in the storm waters off Brest, he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory—but at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and Aubrey fears being “yellowed,” that is, nominally promoted to the rank of admiral without a squadron to command.
Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie’s forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba. Download and start listening now!