1. Describe the setting in the opening of the novel.
The novel opens at Captain Jack Aubrey's home in Hampshire, England; a country cottage of smallish size surrounded by failing gardens and otherwise typical country life. The year is 1810 and England is at war with France.
2. Why are England and France at war?
Napoleon leads a global dynasty that threatens to conquer all of Europe and is held at bay only by England's superior naval might.
3. Who comes to visit Aubrey at the beginning of the novel? What does the person do and how long has it been since they've seen each other?
Aubrey is visited by his particular friend and long-time confidant, Stephen Maturin. Maturin is a physician of renown, a natural scientist, and a covert intelligence agent for the British crown. The two men have not met for some time and spend several hours getting caught up.
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