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21: The Unfinished Twenty-First Novel in the Aubrey/Maturin Seriesby Patrick Obrian
Synopses & Reviews
Blue at the Mizzen (novel #20) ended with Jack Aubrey getting the news, in Chile, of his elevation to flag rank: Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron, with orders to sail to the South Africa station. The next novel, unfinished and untitled at the time of the author's death, would have been the chronicle of that mission, and much else besides. The three chapters left on O'Brian's desk at the time of his death are presented here both in printed version — including his corrections to the typescript — and a facsimile of his manuscript, which goes several pages beyond the end of the typescript to include a duel between Stephen Maturin and an impertinent officer who is courting his fiancee. Of course we would rather have had the whole story; instead we have this proof that O'Brian's powers of observation, his humor, and his understanding of his characters were undiminished to the end.
"For Aubrey/Maturin addicts, there could be no better gift: a new, albeit incomplete, story with freshly piquant details, wry humor and salty nautical action. Although the official word was that O'Brian had finished the series with 1999's Blue at the Mizzen, he was in fact working on a new installment at the time of his death in 2000. This short volume juxtaposes a facsimile of O'Brian's handwritten manuscript of the untitled novel with a printed version of the text, which corresponds to O'Brian's loosely edited, typed pages. As the tale opens, our heroes are off the coast of South America, trying to find a friendly place to put the Surprise in for victuals and water. Jack Aubrey has received the happy news that he has been given the rank of rear admiral of the Blue, and all is well for the time being. But the Catholic locals are surly at best to the mostly Protestant crew. To fix things, Stephen Maturin does some judicious buttering up and Aubrey reunites with Samuel Mputa, the region's Papal Nuncio and, incidentally, one of his 'indiscretions' from his days as 'a long-legged youth' serving on the South African station. The typescript of the third chapter ends mid-sentence, but the handwritten manuscript continues on to include a duel between Maturin and a romantic rival, leaving readers begging for more. Alas, this fragmentary but worthy addition to the series is truly the end of a literary era, leaving only readers' imaginations to fill in the rest of the story. FYI:Norton is simultaneously publishing a five-volume boxed set of all the Aubrey/Maturin novels, which together have sold more than six million copies." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A lovely and welcome oddity: the much-loved author's final fragment, titled simply by its position in the canon....It's all there. The wonderful language. The leisurely pace. The rich detail....Readers will be left to their dreams." Kirkus Reviews
In response to the interest of millions of O'Brian fans, here is the final, partial installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series — the proposed follow-up to Blue at the Mizzen. These are the three chapters left on O'Brian's desk at the time of his death.
In response to the interest of millions of Patrick O'Brian fans, here is the final, partial installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
About the Author
Patrick O'Brian wrote many novels, including the extraordinarily popular Aubrey/Maturin series about the Royal Navy in the time of Nelson. He died in 2000.
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