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Publisher's Summary

Jack Aubrey, Post Captain in the British Royal Navy, is suffused with happiness. The Shannon's engagement with the U.S. Chesapeake off the New England coast has resulted in victory, just another in a long string of them for Aubrey, nicknamed Lucky Jack for his tendency to win big. But Jack is less sure-footed by land than by sea. Trying desperately to conceal from his wife Sophie the details of an untoward liaison with a lady claiming a baby, and wrestling with speculators who are trying to rob him of every farthing he ever pirated, Jack is making a poor show at civilized life.Meanwhile, his best friend, surgeon and scientist Stephen Maturin, is enjoying unprecedented success. In possession of papers that would make Napoleon blanch, Stephen supplements his espionage activities by delivering lectures at the French Institute on such rarities as the extinct avifauna of Rodriguez, and by spending time in the company of the fiery Diana Villiers.
©1980 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"Splendid escape. Literate and amusing." (Kirkus)
"Vividly detailed 19th-century settings and dramatic tension punctuated with flashes of wry humor make O'Brian's nautical adventure a splendid treat." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Darwin8u on 03-16-17

Spy-craft and/or spouse-craft

"The pretext: dictatorships were absurdly sensitive to the public opinion they continually outraged; they always had to be in the right, to be morally impeccable; and that was one of the reasons why those who had been much mutilated in their interrogation were rarely allowed to live, whether they had given their information or not."
- Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate

When I was first introduced to these novels and read the first couple, I couldn't believe how GOOD the were, but was skeptical that they could continue with the same level of near perfection the early novels evoked. Now, seven books in, I'm less amazed at the continuity of output. I figure it is something like building a cathedral. If you have a master-builder, it doesn't matter if the church is 10 feet high or 1000 feet. The scale matters, but a genius will produce genius work.

I am, however, a bit more accustomed to how O'Brian pulls this off without the books seeming to sink into the trap of most serial authors. Setting. If O'Brian only told his novels at sea, there might be some inevitable boredom and repetition, but O'Brian doesn't.

For example in this book, the setting goes something like this:

Halifax (Land) => HMS Diligence (Chased from Halifax to Home) => England (Land) / Paris (Land) => HMS Ariel (Baltic Sea/Bay of Biscay) => Paris (Prison) => HMS Oedipus (English Channel).

This one has a bit more setting changes than most, but O'Brian's change of settings and occasional diversions into spy-craft and/or spouse-craft allows enough shadows and depth into these novels to keep the reader from becoming sea-blind.

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15 of 21 people found this review helpful

By Larry on 12-24-03

Better than the movie (Master and Comander)

Listening to Patrick Tull read is such a pleasure. This series is one of the best reasons for audio books.

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8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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