At the outset of this adventure, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin pursue a heavy American privateer through the Great South Sea. Their ship, the Surprise, is now also a privateer, the better to escape diplomatic complications from Stephen's mission, which is to ignite the revolutionary tinder of South America. Jack will survive a desperate open-boat journey and come face to face with his illegitimate black son; Stephen, caught up in the aftermath of his failed coup, will flee for his life into the high, frozen wastes of the Andes; and Patrick O'Brian's brilliantly detailed narrative will reuinte them at last in a breathtaking chase through storm seas and icebergs south of Cape Horn.More
"So much better than the competition that comparisons long ago ceased to be relevant: [the Aubrey/Maturin books] are uniquely excellent." (The New York Times)
"Meticulously researched and heart-stoppingly vivid." (Washington Post Book World)
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Patrick Tull is the only narrator to choose
Not my cup of tea, or port, or grog.
Years ago, after tremendously enjoying the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I wanted to read the Aubrey/Maturin series starting with book #1. After wading through the first few chapters of that initial volume, I quit. Too much conversation, too much narration, not enough action. I was surprised that I did not enjoy the book, as I do like reading about nautical adventures involving naval sailing ships and customs, such as Mutiny on the Bounty and various biographies of Lord Nelson, Magellan and Captain Cook. When I recently spotted excellent reviews of this 16th book in Patrick O'Brian's series, I decided to chance its Audible version. Perhaps a good narration would make all the difference. Sadly, not for me. Once again, there was too much conversation, too much narration, not enough action. I realize that I am alone at sea in this opinion. I sailed against the wind to the halfway point in this book, but I'm not going to finish it. For me the pleasure derived is so small that it does not warrant the time and effort involved.
Patrick Tull has a great storytelling voice and manner. However, in the case of this book, I'm not sure he was the best choice. He came across as a crusty old salt no matter which character's lines he was speaking, and some of those characters were written as being cultured and sophisticated. I understand that Simon Vance also narrated this series of books. I like Vance a great deal, but doubt that even he could have rescued this experience for me.
It must, because most reviews are loaded with praise. I missed the boat, it seems. (Pun intended.)
Perhaps I am better suited to reading nonfiction sea adventures. Don't let this review stop you from checking out this book, if you are so inclined. Reviews aren't always a matter of the merits of books so much as an indication of subjective experience and personal taste. You might find yourself to be a Patrick O'Brian fan.
- Gotta Tellya