Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian is the first book in a series of 20. (There's also a fragment of book 21, but it wouldn't hold the interest of anyone who didn't read at least a few of the others. Book 21 is simply the start of an outline/draft, and the author died before he completed it).
Master and Commander is an extraordinary book. I think it will be a permanent classic. Ostensibly a sea story about a British naval captain during the Napoleonic war, it embodies elements of psychology, history, philosophy, art, music, friendship, and just about any subject of interest. This book can be read on several levels. The first time I read it, I zipped through the storyline, skipping over technical nautical jargon and enjoying the marvelous language and eloquence of prose. While reading this book and its sequels, I developed wide-ranging interests in several fields that the author briefly touched on. I believe that reading this book was a life-changing event for me. I chair the Patrick O'Brian Mensa SIG, and I participate in a non-Mensa chatgroup of O'Brian fans with over 1,000 highly literate, well-read people of widely varied interests. It seems that there's something for everybody in these books. The movie Master and Commander was loosely based on this series of books. Recommendation: this book is a five-star, ten out of ten.