MK Karni, August 21, 2012 (view all comments by MK Karni)
Great escape reading. Set in the late 18th Century amid the conflict between Britain, Spain and France, O'Brian has all the technical details right and his characters voices are authentic. Exciting, good pacing. A classic in military fiction.
Linnea A., January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Linnea A.)
I re-read this book this year; I've read and re-read Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series for over 25 years now and should be sorry if other readers might miss these books. He wrote 20 in the series about a Royal Naval Captain and his friend, an Irish/Catalan physician, acting as his ship's surgeon at times, and as an intelligence agent, during the Napoleonic Wars. I first read a review of POB's bio of Joseph Banks and it mentioned the wonderful novels. Another reviewer has written that these are the best novels you've never heard of, and they are. You are introduced into the first year of the 19th c., to nautical life, to friendship, to a higher plane, to wonderful humor and conversation and music, to history and warfare, to life and loves and natural history, with perfect pitch for the way that people spoke and wrote in those days. O'Brian was a master. If you can't get "into" the books just now, don't give up and try again later...many of us did that and were amazed. We re-read them and find new things in them all the time. You might keep an eye out for the mythology too, that has to be found once you become aware of it, not to mention many other themes, but just reading them on the level of wonderful stories is extremely satisfying. If you get hooked, set aside some months that year because you won't have much time for anything else. I envy you your first read and your second, thru the canon.
bigmarlin, November 10, 2009 (view all comments by bigmarlin)
Patrick O'brian's Aubrey/Maturin series are riveting fiction about the British navy, at the end of the 1700's and into the early 1800's. Many of the adventures are based on true accounts from British navy logs and correspondence, into which "Lucky Jack" Aubrey and his crews are placed.
Watch the movie with Russell Crowe, then read the books. You will see excerpts from many of the books thorughout the movie.
Once you start the first book, you'll want to read them all!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (7 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
W. W. Norton & Company -
Imagine Jane Austen wrote nautical fiction. That gives you a feel for the first several volumes in the series. Patrick O'Brian isn't writing about the beginning of the 19th century; he's writing as if he's in the 19th century. Wonderful characters, gripping stories. Indulge in all 20 volumes.
by Martin Levin, New York Times Book Review,
"Even for a reader not especially interested in matters nautical, the author's easy command of the philosophical, political, sensual and social temper of the times flavors a rich entertainment."
by Kevin Myers, Irish Times,
"Some of you...have never read a Patrick O'Brian novel. I beseech you to start now. Start with Master and Commander, which should be available in paperback from your nearest bookseller. And if he — or she — does not have a copy, then beat the wretched fellow."
by The New Yorker,
"They're funny, they're exciting, they're informative. There are legions of us who gladly ship out time and time again under Captain Aubrey."
by Los Angeles Times,
"It has been said that this series is some of the finest historical fiction of our time....Aubrey and Maturin have been described as better than Holmes and Watson, the equal of Quixote and Panza....And the marvel is, it hardly says enough."
by Sir Francis Chichester,
"The best sea story I have ever read."
"Patrick O'Brian can put a spark of character into the sawdust of time."
by Stephen Becker,
"To compare Patrick O'Brian with 'writers of sea stories' is to compare Proust and the Orchid Fancier's Quarterly. O'Brian is literature....I read him and reread him with awe and gratitude. His Aubrey-Maturin volumes are in effect one great book, and if I could keep only half a dozen contemporary writers, O'Brian would be one of them."
by Christopher Hitchens,
"I devoured Patrick O'Brian's 20-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog."
by David Mamet, New York Times,
"The Aubrey-Maturin series...far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart."
Now a major motion picture starring Russell Crowe, directed by Peter Weir (Witness, The Truman Show).
It is the dawn of the nineteenth century; Britain is at war with Napoleon's France. When Jack Aubrey, a young lieutenant in Nelson's navy, is promoted to captain, he inherits command of HMS Sophie, an old, slow brig unlikely to make his fortune. But Captain Aubrey is a brave and gifted seaman, his thirst for adventure and victory immense. With the aid of his friend Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and secret intelligence agent, Aubrey and his crew engage in one thrilling battle after another, their journey culminating in a stunning clash with a mighty Spanish frigate against whose guns and manpower the tiny Sophie is hopelessly outmatched.
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
The beginning to the sweeping Aubrey/Maturin series. "The best sea story I have ever read."—Sir Francis Chichester
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.