Once again there's more farcical derring-do than full-fledged 1890s naval combat for Lieutenant St. Vincent Halfhyde (Halfhyde for the Queen, Halfhyde Ordered South, etc.)--who's new appointed Lieutenant-in-command of the torpedo-boat destroyer Talisman and dispatched to the South Pacific by way of Singapore. Halfhyde's mission: to help Commodore Bassinghom squelch a rebellion on the colonial isle of Zanatu--where a couple of Irish/Australian adventurers have been making the natives restless, it seems. First, however, Halfhyde and crew must weather a Singapore typhoon. Furthermore, there's a nasty complication in the Zanatu expedition: also heading for the island is Halfhyde's longtime nemesis, Admiral Prince Gorsinski, with his gunship Catherine the Great, sure to use the rebellion-crisis as an excuse to make a power-grab on behalf of the Czar! And yet another old thorn in Halfhyde's side shows up once he reaches Zanatu: the natives, who are indeed killing and burning with anti-colonial fervor, seem to be under the spell of a mysterious Englishman whom they've made their cave-dwelling prisoner/god--an Englishman who turns out to be none other than . . . arrogant, cowardly, now-shipwrecked Captain Watkiss!! (See Halfhyde and the Flag Captain, 1981.) Soon, then, the British and the Russians are sneakily battling over capture and possession of Watkiss, the key to the control of the island population: threats proliferate; a few skirmishes ensue; eventually, after another typhoon, the conflict shifts locale to the Japanese-held isle of Paravela. But the bona ride naval action is truly minimal this time around--and only series regulars (especially those who dote on Halfhyde's feuds with Gorsinski and Watkiss) will be fully absorbed by the mildly amusing Halfhyde-goes-native shenanigans.