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The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: The Fortune of War (Book 6), Chapters 1-2 (pg. 1885-1961)

Your daily dose of off-topic shenanigans

View On Ambon. Mid 18th Century Map By Jan Van Schley
Ambon Island; Mid 18th Century Map By Jan Van Schley
Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


We open with the Leopard limping into port on the Spice Islands, and Aubrey (and Maturin) recounting the events of the last book, plus in broad terms the journey away from the Desolation Islands by way of Botany Bay (i.e. Sydney).

Maturin learns that his efforts to expose US intelligence have worked — thanks in part to one (and just one) of the boats making it to the Cape from the Leopard when most of the crew deserted it — but that the Americans have not yet declared war. Guess it’s not June 1812 just yet.

Aubrey’s ragtag crew play some cricket against another ship’s crew while waiting for a boat home to England — as passengers: the Leopard’s set to be decommissioned due to lack of supplies to repair and refit it. Something tells me it won’t be a straightforward journey with everybody repeatedly declaring their expectations of it being a fast and straightforward one.


But indeed, it is a fast and straightforward journey. Maturin and the ship surgeon strike up a good relationship, while Captains Yorke and Aubrey do the same. Everything’s hunky dory, and the HMS La Flèche makes record time in reaching the Cape for a brief pitstop. Just as they’re about to leave, news reaches them of America declaring war, but they don’t think much of it (or the US Navy), and the journey continues smoothly.

Luck with the wind however runs out in the doldrums west off of Africa, and then something even worse happens: fire! Somehow overnight, the ship catches on fire — turns out all that talk about no-smoking policies in various parts of the ship was probably not just idle chatter — and all hands abandon ship just in time. They watch from a safe distance as it explodes into a million tiny little pieces.





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