Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written.
Patrick O'Brian takes his hero Jack Aubrey and Aubrey's tetchy, sardonic friend Stephen Maturin on a voyage as fascinating as anything he has ever written.
It is 1812 and the heroes set course across the South Atlantic to intercept a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. If they do not come up with her before she rounds the Horn, they must follow her into the Great South Sea and as far across the Pacific as she may lead them. It is a commission after Jack's own heart. Maturin has fish of his own to fry in the world of secret intelligence.