My opinion of this series has definitely been influenced by the fact that I have only listened to most of it. I read "Master and Commander" many years ago after hearing that these were wonderful books, and I couldn't understand what all the hype was about. It was a good book, but rather dry and full of detail to the point of being almost tedious. Then I started checking them out of the library on tape, and I was hooked. "Post Captain" is no exception.
Jack Aubrey's character is given more depth here in "Post Captain" than perhaps he had in "Master and Commander," which is another way of saying that the difficult circumstances he encounters here cause him to grow. In this book he runs the gamut from the depths of despair to the heights of triumph and elation, and most everything in between at some point in the story. The reader gets a deeper glimpse into his character here, beyond the rather earthy yet undeniably heroic naval officer first portrayed in "Master and Commander." Not that he was simplistic in that earlier story, but here we see depths and nuances not previously encountered.
As many have pointed out before, some like Tull's style and others don't. I am unashamedly one who loves to listen to Patrick Tull. I few years ago I heard him narrating a PBS special on the civil war battle ship Maine, and I was instantly hooked and had to watch the whole thing. When I first started listening to the Aubrey/Maturin series, I did it through my local library and was thus forced to listen to whatever they happened to have available. The first reader I heard was Richard Brown, who I grew to quite like. Then Patrick Tull, who did not convince me at first. I skipped back and forth between these two for several more books of the series and decided I liked both of them, but maybe I liked Brown a little better. As time went on, and the recordings by Richard Brown were re-done and replaced by other narrators, I eventually heard Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin voiced through David Case--a reader I absolutely love for anything by Dickens--and Simon Vance as well. I have listened to Vance read other books, too, as I listen to a lot of audio books. By now, I have gone through the entire Aubrey/Maturin series several times, mostly listening to Patrick Tull. My conclusion is that Tull's mastery of these books and his perfection for this role he loved might not be immediately evident to the new listener, since this is what happened to me. And several listeners seem to have been baffled by his British accent, which is a common-enough occurrence with Americans unfamiliar with that dialect. I remember watching a British movie when I was a little kid and hardly being able to understand a word they were saying! However, I discovered British TV about three decades ago, and by now I barely notice the accent, it sounds so normal to me. The idea that Patrick Tull is "hard to understand" is something only someone unfamiliar with British speech could possibly say. His readings are extremely clear and easy to understand (if you are comfortable with an English accent), yet at the same time, full of character and emotion. By comparison, Simon Vance is unbearably bland, and that's what I don't like about his narration of this series, or in fact of anything I've heard him read--the latest was "The Elephant Whisperer," which was an interesting book, but Vance's stilted narration didn't help it. Whenever I listen to him saying the familiar words of the Aubrey-Maturin series, I am always forcibly reminded that he is reading a book to me. It is all at second-hand. His enunciation is so careful and--by comparison with other readers--impersonal. When I listen to Patrick Tull, I am immersed in the story and it is as if I was there. The characters come to life, each one distinct and sharply-defined from all others. Tull was great with the different voices, and I love his slight Irish lilt when he voiced Stephen Maturin, who was after all half Irish and spent some of his childhood in Ireland. Admittedly, this may not be accurate, since no one who sees Maturin or hears him speak has any idea that he is Irish. But it sure makes it easier to distinguish the characters when you are listening to them, and I personally love Tull's interpretation of him. It isn't a heavy or thick Irish accent, as he did with certain other Irish characters along the way. I think, though, that it probably comes down to a matter of personal taste in the end. I've listened to Simon Vance read other books, and at least so far, I just can't enjoy listening to him, no matter how much I've liked the book he was reading. It isn't only that I think he's wrong for the Aubrey/Maturin series; I simply don't enjoy the sound of his voice! I'm sure there must be people who feel the same way about Patrick Tull. Still, I would recommend that anyone who likes this series give Tull a good, long chance. Get familiar with him. It's definitely worth the effort.
Jack Aubrey stands out--and after all, he is the title character, so that's only fitting. As always in this series, however, it is a duet, not a solo piece. Stephen Maturin also becomes more clearly defined as the story progresses. In some ways he is the more admirable character, exhibiting more restraint and self-denial than Jack, partly because he is innately more mature at this point in the series and sees more clearly what is happening, Repeatedly, he decides to put his own interests aside in favor of his loyalty to his friend Jack. Though he is front-and-center in many scenes, he plays second fiddle (or cello, as the case might be) to Jack in this story.
With its lengthy passages on land, involved in the manners of the English gentry and their courtly rituals, this book is perhaps the one of O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series which is most like Jane Austen's body of work. There are still sea-battles in plenty, as well as the intrigue of intelligence work, so don't think this is something like "Sense and Sensibility." As others have noted before me, the book actually feels like three books in one. The first part is the most Austen-like, as Jack and Stephen move ashore and take up fox hunting and visiting with the female neighbors. In the second part, everything goes sour, particularly for Jack. It is one of the darkest, gloomiest parts of the entire 20-book series. Finally, in the third part, as Jack's fortunes take a turn for the better, there is a light-hearted, humorous jubilation that makes a sharp contrast with the feeling of depression which preceded it. O'Brian's wit is evident throughout the story, sometimes blatantly expressed, as when Stephen comes aboard their ship with a bulky cello and a portable beehive, waving a narwhal's horn in one hand; to more subtle winks to the reader, as when the members of the dinner party on Jack's ship drunkenly sing of "Three Blind Mice," a reference by O'Brian to the three men who are stupidly pursuing the same woman, all of whom are in attendance at the dinner. While this is a really good book, in retrospect I think a person only comes to see these works in their proper light once they've read those that follow. I enjoyed "Post Captain" the first time I read it, but I like it so much better now that I've read the entire series. The Aubrey-Maturin chronicle really has nothing similar to it in modern literature, so it's hard for many people to get into, but it certain repays any effort involved.
Humor. Drama. History. 2nd in a seafaring series. Absolutely delightful.
The entire Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brien is extraordinary.
Patrick Tull has no equal. He does a boatload of cockney sailors & stuffy British admirals with great elan.
Stephen Maturin being fished out of the drink & berated by his boat mates. Hilarious.
Both author and narrator have passed away. Makes these books doubly precious.
I love the Master and Commander series so very dearly, but this recording was a bit vexing. Occasionally another voice can be heard faintly in the background, although it appears to be saying the same words just a fraction later than Patrick Tull says them. I still think Patrick Tull does the best reading of these books, I was just a little put off by the phantom voice in the background!
Expected to love it and it lived up to expectations ... on to book 3! Patrick Tull can read to me anytime and I'll listen eagerly!
Pediatrician. Classics, Literary Fiction and SciFi lover"
I loved this book, but its longwinded in parts and I doubt Id have made it through it in print.
The cutting out expedition was great as are some of the scenes where you start to see inside Maturin's head. (also bees love the bees)
The author went back and greatly widened the base of the characters for this book. The greatly added depth makes for a novel that is quite slow in parts, but is necessary to create characters strong enough to support such a massive series.
I have listened to it before. Great series.
The entire Aubrey Maturin series. Krakatoa, The Great Influenza and other historical novels and biographies.
Like other good narrators he tries to bring a time to the language.
Good listen. Tough to turn it off.
Audiobooks are my way of easing the long commute to work! Thank you!
Aubrey is the best by far!
Hmmm...I think a TV series would be good....Not sure about the casting but i'm sure that this would be an action packed and witty series!
Good read. Thanks!
As a long time fan of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, it was a pleasure to find an audio rendering that fills the sails with such precision (even on land!). Mr. Tull brings each character to life just so with wonderful accents and a twinkle in his eye.
Man, I love these books! In this one, BFFs Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin thought they knew each other initimately, but both discover there's more to the other than they previously knew. There's a lot of gentlemanly angst--over ladies, over unkind words spoken in the heat of anger, over jealousy and mistrust. But here's a spoiler: they work it all out in the end. Huzzay! There are also the requisite naval intrigues and battles, and, of course, plenty of humor. I can't wait to read book three!