The ship does become the main focus of the last third of the book. But it never becomes as full a character as the ships in the world of Patrick O’Brien do. The reason for that is no matter where he goes on the boat life on board is always seen through the landlubber eyes of the main character Talbot.
The result is both good and bad. The bad is that sometimes it is difficult to visualise where he is. But on the positive side the panic that sweeps the ship when it looks like it might break up and sink is more believable because Talbot does not have the instinctive knowledge to know for sure whether he will sink or not.
The love sick and increasingly isolated aristocrat moons about the place dreaming about the young girl he has left behind on the other ship. He manages to annoy most of his fellow passengers and has been nicknamed ‘Lord’ by the sailors who don’t have much time for him.
He seems largely unaware and in a series of odd encounters with the ship’s carpenter, purser and its officers is made aware the ship is in real danger of breaking up. He is seen as a link between the passengers and the captain but after his servant Wheeler chooses to kill himself Talbot makes his third move into the officers quarters. There he makes the decision to lock his journal in a watertight box just in case the ship sinks. As a result there is a postscript that is clearly written after he has reached land acting as a partial conclusion and a lead-in for the final part of the trilogy.
A review will follow soon…