Fans of age of sail fiction, authentic and compelling historical fiction with complex and human characters and much thought about life, should like the Aubrey and Maturin books like this one--but should begin with the first, Master and Commander Same quality as the previous volumes in the series. The name is repeated 2 or 3 times during a conversation with Jack and each time the name is omitted as if censored. One imagines that a difficult pronunciation required another try but was later forgotten. Still top fare though in this wonderful series. I cannot imagine listening to these tales narrated by anyone else and heres hoping theres more to come soon as i cant wait to get book 8 as narrated by ric.
Couldn't wait for bedtime to pick up where Jack, Stephen and Diana had got to. A very creditable incursion to Napoleonic France - Maturin to the fore again, showing OBrian's versatility and imagination. Yet another good book, working my way through the series, as you finish one book you are left eager to move onto the next. OBrien shows off his elephantine nautical and ornithological mastery whilst forming the tasserai of a plot into a masterpiece Listening to the series in turn and no disappointments. Rick Jerrom completely nails the narrations.
Prime as Jack Aubrey would say. I came to the Aubrey-Maturin series with slight reservations but, as I have now listened to six of them I am clearly "hooked ". The books are, of course, extremely well written and very idiosyncratic, but quite frankly, I doubt whether I would have got this far in the canon had it not been for Ric Jerrom's narration. Disregard any criticism you may have read that compares him unfavourably to previous readers - we all tend to anchor our opinions to the first time we saw or heard a performance - and take it from me that Jerrom is quite brilliant.
The best reading of this or any other book I've heard.. Brilliant enjoyed immensely thanks again. By: Patrick O'Brian. Narrated by: Ric Jerrom. Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins. People who bought this also bought Mr Midshipman Hornblower By: C. Publisher's Summary Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by despatch vessel to bring the news of their latest victory to the government.
What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. No Reviews are Available. Sort by:. Most Helpful Most Recent. The American Captain Lawrence dies en route from the battle, and is buried at Halifax. Once in port, as prisoners of war are taken ashore and the British Navy deserters identified among them, the Shannons and her passengers, Captain Jack Aubrey, Dr Stephen Maturin, and Mrs Diana Villiers feel the full joy of the first naval victory in this war with America.
Maturin communicates with Major Beck, an army counterpart in intelligence work. At the victory ball, Aubrey is pursued by Amanda Smith, known to Diana for her deceiving ways. Aubrey tires of her after a night, yet she persists. Aubrey receives his first letters from his wife Sophia since the Leopard was left in the Dutch East Indies, so long ago. Others write the report of Broke's victory, to speed the official news to England.
Captain Dalgleish on the mail packet Diligence carries the copy of the official report, and Aubrey, Maturin and Mrs Villiers as passengers. The American privateer Liberty chases Diligence on its northern route home. Diana is certain that the privateers are hired by the vengeful Johnson. The Liberty sails into ice and sinks, her crew taken aboard by her follower, and Diligence reaches the Channel in 17 days. News of the victory is well-received, while Aubrey is eager to get home.
He sees his children, grown so much from when he last saw them, and his wife Sophia. Maturin visits Ireland for his uncle. Maturin goes to Paris to present his scientific work at the Institut , taking Diana with him. He finds her a place to stay with Adhemar de la Mothe and an accoucheur as Diana is pregnant by Johnson.
At the Institut presentation, Diana wears her diamonds; She dearly loves these, among them the Blue Peter, the largest of the set. Maturin leaves immediately to take up this mission. Letters from Miss Smith discomfit Aubrey. Maturin advises Aubrey that Miss Smith is lying. Maturin wants Aubrey as his captain to reach the heavily fortified Grimsholm Island in the Baltic. They are joined by Jagiello, a young and handsome Lithuanian officer with the Swedish army as a translator.
Aubrey is offered the sloop HMS Ariel , leaving on the next tide, with no time to stop at home for his sea chest. Mr Pellworm, a Baltic pilot, is on board when Aubrey arrives at Ariel.
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Ariel passes Elsinore where the shore batteries fire but miss the ship. At Carlscrona, they meet with Admiral Saumarez to devise their plan. Aubrey takes the Minnie , the Dutch privateer carrying French officers to Grimsholm; Aubrey uses it to carry wine, tobacco and Maturin to Grimsholm Island. When Maturin begins speaking in Catalan , he is accepted and no lives are lost as the British take the fortified island. The Colonel boards the Ariel , while the Catalan garrison travels in troop transports to Spain with Aeolus as escort, again navigating the narrow channels past Denmark.
Before Ushant , a crew member drops the only chronometer, so they sail not knowing their exact location. While trying to beat their way out, a mishap causes the Ariel to strike a rock and she is washed ashore. The officers and crew are taken as prisoners of war by the French. Aubrey works on a way to escape from the prison, with help from Jagiello.
Maturin is questioned by competing French intelligence groups; from one he learns that Diana miscarried. In another session, newly arrived Johnson identifies Maturin as the killer of two French agents, after an interrogator says someone has paid "half Golconda" for his release. Diana has given up the Blue Peter to a French minister, a diamond from the Golconda mines, to save Stephen.
They marry on the ship, with Aubrey giving her away, and Babbington officiating. See also Recurring characters in the Aubrey—Maturin series. The GR blurb mentions only a little of the incidents and adventures, from the Atlantic to the Baltic, to inland France, and back to the home fleet where there are a couple of key developments: 'Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their l Patrick O'Brian back to his very best in this seventh Aubrey-Maturin novel.
The GR blurb mentions only a little of the incidents and adventures, from the Atlantic to the Baltic, to inland France, and back to the home fleet where there are a couple of key developments: 'Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their latest victory to the government. Another exceptional instalment in the series Nothing more to say! At home in England he finds he has been cheated by a scoundrel and Stephen is busily taking on a new espionage assignment that also gets Jack a ship, the Ariel. Jack hopes for a colonelcy, a device used to financially reward post-captains.
When his wife Sophie protests that perhaps taking a colonelcy in the army with no duties attached might be considered corrupt J You may remember from Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian that Jack is without command after having sunk the Waakzaanheid, a Dutch To be continued, of course.
I recommend reading them in order. Pullings isn't in it, alas. Jul 06, Edward Erdelac rated it really liked it. Great installment. It's really at this point that I feel the Aubrey-Maturin series is less of a sequence of separate novels and more like overlarge chapters in one very large story. The events of the previous book led directly into this one.
Maturin and Diana cross paths with the nefarious Johnson again, Jack has an ill-advised tryst with a loud mouthed society butterfly, and is humorously baffled by the boyish good looks of Lithuanian Swiss Army soldier Gedymin Jagiello and the incessant passes Great installment. Maturin and Diana cross paths with the nefarious Johnson again, Jack has an ill-advised tryst with a loud mouthed society butterfly, and is humorously baffled by the boyish good looks of Lithuanian Swiss Army soldier Gedymin Jagiello and the incessant passes by the opposite sex he engenders even while extolling the virtues of a burlier, harier, more competent crewmate.
Not as much action in this outing per say, but an enjoyable character study all around. Feb 28, Nooilforpacifists rated it liked it Shelves: naval-fiction. To date, five out of the seven have been Napoleonic spy stories, not Napoleonic naval stories. There is some enjoyment in the former, to be sure. Aubrey loses more ships in these seven books then those other lead characters lose in each's entire series. I may read more of the dozens of O'Brian books. But only after wrapping my head around the very different mission of O'Brian's mi To date, five out of the seven have been Napoleonic spy stories, not Napoleonic naval stories.
But only after wrapping my head around the very different mission of O'Brian's mission, and only for lack of a better choice. Mar 03, Callie Hornbuckle rated it it was amazing. So very good! Even when the characters frustrate me so much I want to kick them in their imaginary shins, it's a sign of the excellent writing.
I also appreciate that even though fate a. Then again, he too was enjoying himself very much more than ever he had expected: the void was still there, certainly, a blank like the white pages of a book after the word Finis, but it was far down, far beneath his consciousness of the moment. Superficially at least, it is not especially unusual.
Here again we find Stephen Maturin and Jack Aubrey, delivered to us in that characteristically nuanced, eloquent, powerful prose style. But this book continues the project of the previous story, 'The Fortune of War', in two main respects: it ties up some of the story threads, which is to be expected; but it also persists with a certain melancholic tendency that takes these stories away from being simple tales of naval escapades, and towards something psychologically deeper and more profoundly ambiguous.
What follows contains major plot spoilers for the main events of the book.
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Jack, Stephen and Diana are taken back to Halifax by the Shannon, where they receive a rapturous reception. At the end of the last book, Stephen argued that they ought to marry for the convenience of making her a British subject again, but now Diana has cold feet, for reasons which at first remain unclear. As usual, through a combination of skilful sailing and blind luck, they get away. Here, though, is the first hint of what will become the dominant tone of this book: a sort of sad, strange, tragicomic atmosphere.
When our heroes arrive back in England, they find that the news from America has beaten them home: the victory of the Shannon is treated as a great national victory as a wave of patriotism sweeps the country. Aubrey finds irritating, and irrelevant to the service as he knows it; but stranger for him is to return home to find that his young daughters have grown up and no longer recognise his face. In the silence, the clean, light-filled silence, he hardly liked to call, although the house was so familiar, so intimately well known that his hand found the doorknobs of itself: he was not an imaginative man, yet it was as though he had returned from the dead only to find still, sunlit death waiting for him.
He looked into the dining-room: silence there, no more. The breakfast-room: neatness, clarity, no sound, no movement at all: automatically his eye glanced at the regulator, the austere clock by which he checked his astronomical observations. It had stopped.
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His own room, and there was Sophie sitting at his desk with a sea of papers in front of her; and in the second before she looked up from her sum he saw that her face was sad, worried, thinner than before. It is a happy reunion between him and his wife Sophie, of course, though somewhat tainted in his mind by memories of his rather torrid affair in Halifax.
But otherwise his home country offers little but alienation, artifice and distraction, and so it comes as some relief when Stephen returns from London with a top secret mission for the both of them. The idea is that they must travel to Grimsholm, a heavily defended island fortress in the Baltic sea that happens to be occupied by soldiers from Catalonia. Stephen must sneak on shore, and convince the garrison to assist the British by peacefully returning home. We are introduced to Jagiello, a rather jolly young Lithuanian cavalry officer who is absurdly good-looking and has a habit of tripping over his spurs.
I only wonder her behaviour caused any comment…. For all this, the actual business conducted at Grimsholm is remarkably straightforward. What feels like a tragic escalation is undercut by a few swift comic strokes. A mood of constant peril — the idea that they could all be annihilated at any moment — alternates with a patient cataloguing of well-planned events, and a larking tone that revels in small pleasures. Of course they are successful: the island is taken without a shot fired in anger. Yet on the other hand he felt more able to command success in that it meant no less to him — to command it with a strength that arose not indeed from a fundamental indifference to his own fate but from something resembling it that he could not define; it had a resemblance to despair, but a despair long past, with the horror taken out of it.
So with this great obstacle conquered, what next? The return journey from the Baltic turns out to be a great deal more difficult than the outward journey, not least because the only chronometer on the ship has broken, thus leaving them without a reliable method of precisely determining latitude.
Off the coast of France they break from the convoy to join in a pursuit of a French ship, but this time they are outrun. The weather, a significant misjudgement of their location, and a very unfortunate accident involving a sounding line, leads to the Ariel wrecked on the rocks near Brittany. As gentlemen officers with coin in pocket, Jack, Stephen and Jagiello are treated well, but any chance of escape seems remote after they are transferred to Paris and locked up in the old Temple.
Stephen is the one in real danger here. If the authorities realise they have a spy on their hands he will probably be tortured and killed. For a while, the situation seems hopeless; and yet all throughout, despite the dark implications that they might all be going to their deaths, the book maintains an almost whimsical sense of humour.
A dish of undercooked crayfish seals the deal or rather unseals it and leaves all except Stephen dashing for the privy on arrival. The worst of it comes when Johnson arrives, his rage still fresh from the events of The Fortune of War, and implicates Stephen directly. They ate awkwardly, because they were holding hands, and at one point they leaned over the table and kissed.
There were also stars, a sprinkling of small-dust and one great unwinking planet that sloped diagonally down the sky by imperceptible degrees, slanting past a gable before it was lost behind the roofs: Venus perhaps. He felt the ampulla in his cheek — undying mortal sin except by casuistry — and although he had long thought prayer in time of danger indecent, prayers sang in his mind, the long hypnotic cadences of plainchant imploring protection for his love.
Hamlet is mentioned a good few times in the story, and though the story never directly adopts the story of that play, a great many parallels are quietly introduced. To extend the comparison further, one could even argue that the Ophelia figure is not Diana, but Jack. The emotional balance of their relationship is far from equal; frequently it feels as though Jack needs Stephen far more than Stephen needs him.
For Stephen, death is entirely conceivable, even courted; but it often feels like Jack would gladly sacrifice himself in order to save his friend, if necessary. When Stephen first visits Grimsholm, Jack stays all night high in the maintop, wrapped in his cloak, till dawn arrives with the first sign of his fate. Would Stephen do the same for Jack, if he were ever in such a position? She gave up one of her prize diamonds to secure the attention and favour of a royalist faction, who effect their disappearance and spirit them away from the city.
In the end, they walk out the prison by the front door, rather than via the elaborate rigging of a homemade block and pulley system that Jack spends hundreds of hours fashioning through a hole dug in the wall of their toilet. Of course he gives away nothing in the way of disappointment — certainly he is grateful to Diana — but perhaps we might feel he has been usurped in his relationship with Stephen. It took me a while to realise the pun embedded in the title.
Your own Horace begged Venus to spare him — parce, precor, precor. Is not peace the greatest good? Calm rather than storms? I once sailed with a young man well versed in Chinese, and I remember his quoting a passage from the Analects of Confucius in which the sage congratulated himself on having reached the time of obedient ears, the time at which he could do whatever his heart moved him to do without the least transgression of the moral law. Until now he has always put marriage to Diana as a purely practical measure, yet he does love her deeply, and the unrequited natured of their relationship renders him almost suicidal at times.
He is a black hole of sorts: he absorbs love from Jack and affection from Diana, but is unable to express anything like the same in return. Perhaps in reality Stephen might have gone to the firing squad, much like the less fortunate spy he glimpses from a window at one point.
Aug 28, C. It is and there is a new war with the USA.
As a Captain at sea, Jack Aubrey is tremendous. On land, he seems to become a bit of a buffoon. Quite by accident. These land capers get him into all sorts of trouble and often his devoted wife Sophie and his good friend Maturin are the ones who seem to get him out of such vexations. This story moves along the same lines as Aubrey and Maturin go on a mission in the Baltic. In this sea is a fortified island manned by Catalans. Maturin is half Catalan and half Irish. To persuade the garrison to surrender and ally with Britain against Napoleon is the aim of the British government.
Maturin is selected to do this and he wishes Aubrey to command the sloop, HMS Ariel, upon the mission. Once again, Maturin is up to his neck at sea where Aubrey can always pull something out of the bag for him. Also, the elegant and tantalising Diane Villiers is still in the story. She becomes more dashing with her gloriously refined roguish elegance and sincere support for her country.
The whole saga takes another fabulous step forward. A peach of a read. This is now my third time reading through this brilliant series and I am reminded again how beautifully written and how wonderfully, addictively enjoyable they are. In The Surgeon's Mate, Jack's affairs ashore are in a tangle to say the least and Stephen helps both practically and by requesting that Jack be the captain commanding a tricky intelligence mission in the Baltic.
The subsequent action and thoughtful developments are, as always, thrilling and engrossing. Patrick O'Brian is steeped in This is now my third time reading through this brilliant series and I am reminded again how beautifully written and how wonderfully, addictively enjoyable they are. Patrick O'Brian is steeped in the period of the early 19th Century and his knowledge of the language, manners, politics, social mores and naval matters of the time is deep and wide.
- The Surgeon's Mate by O'Brian, Patrick.
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Combined with a magnificent gift for both prose and storytelling, it makes something very special indeed. The books are so perfectly paced, with some calmer, quieter but still engrossing passages and some quite thrilling action sequences. O'Brian's handling of language is masterly, with the dialogue being especially brilliant, but also things like the way his sentences become shorter and more staccato in the action passages, making them heart-poundingly exciting.
There are also laugh-out-loud moments and an overall sense of sheer involvement and pleasure in reading. I cannot recommend these books too highly. They are that rare thing; fine literature which are also books which I can't wait to read more of. Wonderful stuff. Oct 06, Kathryn rated it it was ok. Could not get past the second chapter. Feb 17, Shira rated it really liked it. Excellent ending! Both unexpected, despite the title, and wholly entertaining to the very last word. The shifting third person once in a while made me wonder whose head we had just been in, but never interfered with the story, and gave a nice glimpse into the mind of each main character.
Highly recommended. Apr 26, Lisa rated it really liked it Shelves: been-around-the-world-and-i-i-i , what-a-man , hist-fic , classics , kindle-baby , own , boats-and-stuff , hello-salty-goodness , , war-what-is-it-good-for. Another fabulous instalment in the continued adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his BFF Dr Stephen Maturin that I hugely enjoyed, even if it was sadly interrupted by too much work and a new downstairs neighbour who likes to scream things that make no sense at regular intervals.
Having long been at sea, on landing in Nova Scotia Captain Aubrey has found himself having an ill-advised fling with a young flibbertigibbet who, as soon as he finally gets himself home again, is writing copious notes f Another fabulous instalment in the continued adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his BFF Dr Stephen Maturin that I hugely enjoyed, even if it was sadly interrupted by too much work and a new downstairs neighbour who likes to scream things that make no sense at regular intervals. Having long been at sea, on landing in Nova Scotia Captain Aubrey has found himself having an ill-advised fling with a young flibbertigibbet who, as soon as he finally gets himself home again, is writing copious notes full of declarations of love and pregnancy, along with pleas for cash.
Meanwhile, Stephen is giving lectures to the Institut in Paris and finding a place there for the knocked up Diana Villiers — now considered an enemy alien thanks to her dalliance with the American Johnson. Which is made especially difficult by bad weather, a missing chronometer, deadly bays, French ships eager to capture them, French captains eager to torture Stephen, and incarceration in imposing French prisons. I never thought that would happen. These books are my treat to myself whenever I need picking up a bit — so if my neighbour continues to scream nonsense at me whenever she sees me, prepare to see much more of these popping up on my feed.
Mar 03, John Jr. Because other reviews here and elsewhere can provide a good account of this book, I won't try to. But I will offer a suggestion for anyone else who's reading the series. Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of historical novels, which take place during the Napoleonic Wars, contain a vast number of unfamiliar terms, especially nautical and geographical ones.
A careful reader can get the gist of what's being said, but a lot will remain vague. For instance, you can figure out hull-up versus hull- Because other reviews here and elsewhere can provide a good account of this book, I won't try to. For instance, you can figure out hull-up versus hull-down sightings of a distant ship, but the difference between cable-laid and hawser-laid ropes, or between carronades and long-barreled guns, can be tricky to grasp and remember.
The former is a lexicon with some illustrations; the latter contains maps, recaps of each novel in the series, more illustrations, and other background.