This 13th adventure in the career of Capt. Lord Nicholas Ramage of the Royal Navy, follows the pattern of the previous several volumes in taking what could have been two or three short stories, each with its entirely separate plot, and sort of jamming them together to form a somewhat disjointed novel that's not entirely successful. Ramage, the Protestant heir to an earldom, has finally come to terms with the reality that Gianna, the gorgeous young Catholic Italian countess he rescued from Bonaparte's cavalry a dozen books ago, is not going to be someone he could ever marry -- and, in any case, she's taken advantage of the lull in the war resulting from the ill-advised Treaty of Amiens (1801) to try to slip back into Volterra and resume ruling her little country. Ramage, meanwhile, while dealing with privateers turned pirate in the last episode, met and fell in love with the equally lovely but quite different Sarah, the daughter of a marquis, and therefore quite acceptable as a wife. In fact, they're enjoying their honeymoon traveling through France and are staying with a Breton nobleman near Brest who is an old friend of the Ramage family (and who also has been living in exile in England), when news suddenly comes that the war is back on and that Bonaparte is arresting every returned royalist and visiting Englishman he can grab. So, naturally, the first plotline concerns Nicholas and Sarah escaping from France before they end up in a French prison, which they manage with the help of the count's valet and several local fishermen who don't like the Revolution even a little bit. The Count of Rennes, meanwhile, has been arrested and put on a frigate in Brest's harbor that is bound for Devil's Island on the coast of French Guiana. Ramage feels obligated, as a matter of honor, to attempt a rescue -- but if he returns to England in the brig he (and his wife) have hijacked, in order to rejoin his own ship, he'll never catch up with the French frigate. Ah ha! Coincidence to the rescue! Just outside Brest, Ramage runs into the Channel Squadron, which is resuming its blockade duties in keeping the French penned up in harbor. And there's Calypso, attached to the squadron, complete with all his handpicked officers and crew -- except for a new captain who should never have been made post. The second (rather short) plotline, therefore, involves Ramage regaining his command, in the process of which the author digresses rather widely on the medical and psychiatric aspects of the evils of drink. (One has to wonder if some of this is autobiographical.) And then begins the long chase across the Atlantic to try to catch the French frigate filled with political prisoners, because once they're disembarked at Devil's Island, Ramage will have no chance at all of carrying out a rescue. Again, as in recent episodes in the series, much of the voyage is spent describing meteorology and sailing conditions in the tropics, and the history of Guiana, and the everyday business of running a King's ship. All of which is well written and interesting to fans of the genre like me, but it really doesn't advance the story that much. The final plotline is (you guessed it) the ingenious plan Ramage comes up with to not only rescue his friend but to capture the French frigate -- which this time will involve a thoroughly bloody boarding and hand-to-hand fight, since he can hardly fire into the enemy and kill the prisoners as well. The story ends abruptly, which makes me think the next volume will pick up five minutes later, but the episodic nature of the story means it will probably work out okay. One has the impression that Pope had rather run out of steam by this point in the series, merely using Ramage as a vehicle to ramble on about bits of naval history and business of interest to him -- not to mention that the author has rewritten history regarding the establishment of the penal colony in Guiana in the first place -- but the writing itself is enjoyable and I shall continue on, the lack of major drama notwithstanding.