Another solid Aubrey/Maturin novel, which I will rate an 8 like most of the others. I am not even going to try to say anything non-spoilery about it.
I am still entertained and rather amazed by Stephen's marriage to Diana. It is very Stephen-and-Diana that they are happily married and living in seperate residences, because of course they would: they are both quite capable of being unconventional and content that way. I am concerned that Diana really will/is having an affair with Jagiello, but I found Stephen's receipt of an anonymous report about it quite touchingly pragmatic. Of course whoever sent it did so out of self-interest with the intention of upsetting Stephen, so of course Stephen is not going to be concerned at all. <3 I almost wonder if Stephen would be able to be complacent about it if it were true.
The political situation at the close of the novel, between squabbling Turk factions, is heart-wrenching. Jack's decision, which one senses is based as much on what's best for the area as for his own country's interests, touched me, especially his typically Jack plain-spoken and uncontrived manner of presenting it. I hope it works out for him.
Kutali's blunt terror of being taken by either Mustapha or Ismail is likewise resonant, along with Jack's relative powerlessness to intervene. It is all too similar to the helplessness of modern first-world countries in preventing atrocities in third-world countries. *sigh*
Anyway, I get to return this 1500 page compendium at last, yay! And now I need to get book nine so I can find out how the Turkish muddle gets resolved.