This is a lot of fun, literary historical fiction with a dose of action. I read the first book a few years back and enjoyed it, though I struggled with the morass of seafaring terms. Either this book reduces them or I’d just gotten used to not understanding every word. This book broadens the world of the series, giving the heroes some time onshore to get into trouble and romantic entanglements (these sections are surprisingly reminiscent of Jane Austen, who was writing around the time these novels are set, which lends credibility to the text). There is perhaps less action here than in the first book, but the stakes are higher and more of the secondary characters are fleshed out. Aubrey and Maturin are both still complex, believable, flawed characters with a complicated friendship. The writing is good, there are moments of humor, and the setting is brought so thoroughly to life that a reader might be fooled into believing O’Brian was writing about his own time period. I think I must have liked this book better than the first, because I’m ready to read the third book sooner rather than later.