One trend I've noticed is that the books, individually and as part of a larger series, have little to no overarching destination or goal. The state of war between France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, etc, is never clearly outlined. You
know the characters know, and you pick it up in vague bits and pieces through conversation, but there is never much sense of contribution... that the outcome of their encounters with other ships will have any material effect on the outcome of the war itself. And maybe that's how it was in the navy, you were primarily in it for the prize money, advancement or because you were pressed into service and had no choice. Even for the officers the war itself is simply an authorization to pursue ships of a certain flag and not others. It has nothing to do with fulfilling a larger purpose. So the stakes do tend to feel ship-wide, not global. And that takes a bit of getting used to, not having that constant sense of purpose while reading. The stakes rest entirely upon Aubrey and Maturin, to the extent that the books let you into their heads to see what hopes and dreams they have for the future. Will Jack clear his debts, find a wife, take a big prize, and survive this latest voyage? That is the extent of the larger pusuits
in the books so far. And much of that is not the main focus, chapter to chapter. The chapters themselves tend to focus, in a lot of detail, on one event. A battle, a coversation, a dinner, re-fitting the ship, receiving a new lieutenant, etc. It can, from time to time, begin to feel like the characters are all simply taking things day to day. That there is no greater purpose to their being there. What's right in front of them in that moment is all there is.
I would love to know if that description is accurate to your experience with the books. Not whether you found it bad or good necessarily, just whether or not it rings true.
For me it does tend to make the books an up and down affair. If the chapter you happen to be on isn't doing it for you it can drag. On the bright side you also know that the next chapter will likely be about something entirely different.
I decided to jump right in to book 4 while I, and the story, had momentum. I do enjoy the dialogue a lot. Just that way of speaking.