This book is the beginning of Jack Aubrey's captaincy, and the start of physician Stephen Maturin's tenor as a naval surgeon.
Jack is made captain of the Sloop, Sophie. In his excitement at finally being made captain, Aubrey seeks out Maturin, with whom he had an unpleasant meeting with the previous evening, to apologize and invite to share a meal. During this time he learns that Stephen is a physician in need of employment as his current patient had recently died. Jack was in the market for a ship surgeon. It was kismet.
The Sophie engages in several battles, takes several prizes and Jack begins to make a name for himself; especially with what he has accomplished with such a small ship. We see the start of the Aubrey/Maturin great friendship, and meet fun characters that will stick with him through his captaincy like Pullings, Bondin and Mowett. All-in-all it was an interesting start to the long story f Aubrey/Maturin and I look forward to seeing how many books it takes for Jack to inherit the Surprise.