Cannon and musket balls, tropical fevers, accident and shipwreck. ""not to mention pirates, romantically beautiful English girls and exotically accommodating Indian dancers -- it's a decorous action/adventure in the Hornblower tradition but it sails under the charter of the East India Company. That empire-broadening business and its own navy until 1830 called ""The Bombay Marine"" which promised quick promotion to likely lads from the lower classes if they managed to survive all the aforementioned horrors. Percival Merewether had not only survived but arrived. From a scrubbing start as a scullery boy, he is the newest captain. Determined to hang on to his rank, eager to fit in among those 'oo kept their own 'orses, Merewether sets sail for Calcutta in 1806 under orders to retrieve the governor-designate of Madras. The mission is accomplished but Merewether is courtmartialed, but just to prove you can't keep a good bloke down. Merewether battles through the proceedings . . . .heads back to Calcutta with his susceptible heart on his sleeve.... More believably peril-fraught than Terry and the Pirates, it's a saline historical novel any fan of the form can sail right through.