At the end of The Thirteen-Gun Salute, Aubrey, Maturin, and the crew of the Diane were marooned on an East Indian island. They are rescued eventually by a passing junk and taken to Batavia, where the governor gives them a new ship, the Nutmeg of Consolation. They resume their original mission and travel to the penal colony in New South Wales. Sydney is a hellhole, ruled by capricious sadists.
This is another fine entry in the long-running Aubrey–Maturin saga. Seafaring, a long chase, a couple of battles, politics, and a great deal of naturalism occupy the pages delightfully.