Synopses & Reviews
Patrick O'Brian's first novel about the sea, , took inspiration from Commodore George Anson's fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In , O'Brian returns to this rich source and mines it brilliantly for another, quite different tale of exploration and adventure. The Wager was parted from Anson's squadron in the fierce storms off Cape Horn and struggled alone up the coast of Chile until she was driven against the rocks and sank. The survivors were soon involved in trouble of every kind. A surplus of rum, a disappearing stock of food, and a hard, detested captain soon drove them into drunkenness, mutiny, and bloodshed. After many months of privation, a handful of men made their way northward under the guidance of a band of Indians, at last finding safety in Valparaiso. This saga of survival is the background to the adventures of two young men aboard the Wager: midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon's mate. Patrick O'Brian's many devoted readers will take particular interest in this story, as Jack and Toby form a kind of blueprint for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the famed heroes of the great Aubrey/Maturin series to come.
"Here is an unexpected bonus: a precursor to the Aubrey/Maturin series...with all the charm of the author's mature works. And for those who have been daunted by the prospect of embarking on a 17-volume series, here is the perfect way to test the waters...It has the same elements that mark Mr. O'Brian's more recent works: the wealth of social detail, the quiet humor, the harrowing shipwrecks, the swashbuckling adventures in foreign parts... .From a cozy, well-lighted 20th century home, [Jack and Toby's] travails could not be more delightful to contemplate." Stephen Becker
"Immediately and unmistakably O'Brian, with humor both slapstick and subtle, the sea implacably neutral, and his heroes bold rough sketches of Aubrey and Maturin. This and are fine forerunners of the grand series, and meeting them now is like being suddenly young again." Boston Globe
"I haven't read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O'Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn't stop." E. O. Wilson
An immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, displaying all the splendid prose and attention to detail that O'Brian's readers expect.
About the Author
Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.