The musings and adventures of 18th-century sailors Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin (The Ionian Missionary, The Surgeon's Mate, et. many al.) follow the winds to the South Pacific. On this cruise: a shipboard wedding and a Polynesian dust-up. With Britain between wars for the moment, Captain Aubrey shifts his flag to The Truelove, a merchantman with a military past, and sails to Sydney and points east on a leisurely semiofficial cruise. As usual, Jack is accompanied by his friend Maturin, physician, naturalist, and early intelligence agent, and, as on previous voyages, the crew includes Mr. Martin, a clergyman who shares Stephen's great interest in birds of the world. This time, though, there is a bird on board--a prostitute smuggled out of Sydney by a smitten young officer. She's bad news. Even after she is wed to the smitten and violently jealous Lt. Oakes, Clarissa sees no reason not to scratch the itches of her husband's messmates. Discipline goes to pot, and Jack decides to disembark the young couple at the earliest opportunity. But nothing happens quickly when one must wait for wind. There is plenty of time for Clarissa to consult her physician, who learns that the lady is left cold by the marriage act and, in discussing her depressing past, also learns the identity of a traitor in the highest level of government. When Truelove at last finds the wind, it is off to a Hawaiianish island and rousing battle to install a government sympathetic to his Britannic majesty George III. Intelligent escape. Not for the rushed.