Apparently I've done a strange thing. Start my life with O'Brian with Blue at the Mizzen. I've asked around and everyone else seems to have read at least 18 other books by the man. For those, like me, who're just starting out, trust in the writing and start at the beginning of the series, for if this book is anything to go by, they're extraordinary. I only got to this book through an Amazon recommendation, having just finished another superb sea faring novel, the Requiem Shark, and I was eager to stay within the bounds of historical fiction. When it's well written, there is nothing finer. Since my introduction to O'Brian, the only criticism I've heard is that he can be quite slow at times, but that's simply not the case with Blue at the Mizzen. I found that it zips along and the two leading characters of Aubrey and Maturin are a considered delight. I think I'm more fond of Maturin, perhaps because of his suffering, perhaps because of his line of work. Nevertheless, the entire book bristles with intelligent dialogues and absorbing adventures. I may have started at the wrong end of the series, but at least I now have months of reading ahead of me.