The first part of this book is a dirge where everyone who is still left alive mourns the death of Richard Bolitho who was killed in action at the end of the previous book. And if the parallels between Bolitho and Nelson were not strong enough, we read the struggles of his mistress - and coincidentally of Nelson's mistress - to come to terms with her loss and what she should do next in her life.
After the first 100 or so pages, we get to the base of this volume - and it is rather thin from a plotting point of view. Adam Bolitho is now the star of the show and he is captaining frigate in the Mediterranean. The coast of Algeria is hazardous to shipping and Algerine pirates have a base of operations with the Dey of Algiers. Bolitho manages to destroy several nests of pirates using tricks that have been described in multiple volumes of this series as well as the Hornblower series and others. Then, of course, there is a command shift and a new admiral comes on board who does not like Bolitho for historical reasons (the uncle, not Adam) and so we have the semi-normal situation of a blow-hard, know-nothing, but well connected admiral with the admirably feisty and always correct frigate caption bailing him out - only to have more resentment reserved for Bolitho.
I rate this book only three stars because there is really nothing here. Adam Bolitho's adventures in the Med area repeat of Dick Bolitho's adventures. The naval engagements are told excitingly enough, but they are less believable than normal. The petty jealousies and revenge plays that keep intruding would be understandable in a small set of cases, but to have such happen in almost every book? Really? How could so many admirals be in command to hold back the worthy captains? Weren't all these admirals captains at one point and therefore know what their underlings are feeling? Also, we have the usual love affair where a woman spends one minute looking at Adam Bolitho and then throws herself at him disclaiming undying love - all the while being married to someone else. This has also been a repeated theme of too many books in this series. So, I'm disappointed to a certain extent and hope this was just a transitional book since the series has six or seven more volumes at the time of this writing.