Summary for Master and Commander

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Plot summary for Master and Commander is a short description of the plot of Master and Commander.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Master and Commander"  follow.

After an unpleasant incident at a concert where he quarrels with a civilian, Dr Maturin, Aubrey is overjoyed to be appointed as Master and Commander of HMS Sophie, a small brig. He makes up his quarrel with Maturin the next morning and invites him to dine with him to celebrate his promotion. Going aboard his new command he finds that he requires a ship's surgeon and so invites Maturin to sail with him in that capacity.

Aubrey has a busy time improving the ship's rig and guns and learning the capabilities of his new command and crew, including James Dillon his new 1st lieutenant. He then starts on his first task as a convoy escort.

On reporting to Lord Keith, his admiral, Aubrey finds that Lady Keith is his cousin, Queenie, who influences the the admiral to favour him witha free-ranging cruise against enemy merchant ships. Aubrey proves to be a lucky commander and soon amasses a large number of prizes making him and his crew relatively wealthy. However, Dillon sees this prize-taking as being unsuitable for a professional naval officer and suspects Aubrey of being more interested in taking prizes rather than military purposes.

Dillon is also under pressure as a secret Roman Catholic and a member of the United Irishmen. This is made worse when he is sent to board an American ship carrying a fugitive leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion who he allows to go free.

Aubrey's predation in Spanish waters cause Spanish traders to hire a Spanish xebec frigate, the Cacafuego to hunt down the Sophie. On their first encounter, Sophie avoids action by a subterfuge much to Dillon's disdain. However on a later meeting Aubrey attacks the much larger ship and captures her against all the odds. Despite this triumph, Captain Harte's justifiable enmity plays down Aubrey's victory so he does not earn the usual promotion for such a victory.

Aubrey is returned to convoy escort but on a voyage to Gibraltar, he encounters a formidable French squadron under Linois who eventually capture the Sophie. Aubrey and his officers are taken as prisoners to Algiceras Bay where they witness Sir James Saumarez's failed attack on the French squadron. After the battle, Aubrey and his officers are released on parole and await court martial in Gibraltar. At the court martial, Aubrey is acquitted following favourable testimony from his officers.

Spoilers end here

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