Shardik was Richard Adams's 1974 follow-up to his phenomenally popular debut, Watership Down. The title character is a gigantic bear who is the god of the primitive Ortelgan people. The hunter Kelderek becomes Shardik's greatest disciple and, eventually, ruler when the bear finally does make its return. On the surface, the book works as a fantasy adventure; on a deeper level, it explores our relationship with the divine. Master and Commander (1970), the first of 20 in Patrick O'Brian's series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, Royal Navy, and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the road of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.