A perfect accompaniment to the gentle roar of a 747-400 as it speeds you across the Pacific, this seventeenth volume of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series is quietly delightful. There are ships a-plenty this time, as Capt. Aubrey is dispatched with a small fleet to surpress the slave trade, and plenty of natural philosophy for Dr. Maturin as well. There's also a small, uncharacteristic, but lovely sketch of a minor character, naturalist Christine Heatherleigh, who is at home in the drawing room but still more at home in the lab. A quiet moment for all, perhaps, as we approach the end of the war, but the joys of meeting our friends once more are perhaps greater than mere advanture.