As we’ve now reached the eighth book in this superlative series, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed it immensely, as it seems that Patrick O’Brian is incapable of writing anything I don’t enjoy. Even when not much is happening.
The Ionian Mission is nowhere near as action-packed as its predecessors, as instead of dashing up and down the Med taking prizes, Jack and his crew are now just one small part of a blockade. Without much fighting or sailing to do, Jack can’t bank on his strong skills (and luck) in those regards and is instead having to push his little grey cells into playing politics.
It’s a testament to O’Brian’s writing and fantastic characters that the daily life of an all but stationary ship and a bored crew can still make such great reading. And while I might have missed my beloved Stephen a little at times (he’s still here, but off-ship or in the background for a good part of it) the sarcastic and nagging Killick made sure that I still got more than my fair share of smirks and sniggers. Add in a quick stopover in my hometown where a purchase of cheap gunpowder results in Jack’s ship sending cannons across the water powered by shrieking flashes of fireworks, and the result is me being tickled pink.