I really appreciated the detail in this selection. The character of Maturin is a terrific tool for aquainting the "lubber" with life aboard ship. Through his eyes we learn the ship and the jargon of the Navy. Sharing his first experiences allows O'Brien to give a lot of description without departing from the story. Cleverly done. Certainly not a light book. It demanded a fair amount of concentration.
An excellent historical novel wonderfully narrated by Patrick Tull. It is full of details about life in Nelson's Navy and the society, science and medicine of the Napoleonice era. An essential primer to the entire Aubrey-Maturin series and it gives valuable insight into the characters and action of the movie.
I listen to 7 or 8 audiobooks per month, and of over 50 titles I've gotten from Audible, this is the first one I couldn't finish. I've listened to the first 20 minutes 3 times, but can't get past that point. In truth, my mind starts wandering pretty much as soon as the prologue is done.
This is the first book in over a year I couldn't finish because I'm using the books to keep awake while driving!
Tull reads masterfully but his voice doesn't make one think of a captain, but rather that insurance salesman that calls during dinner. Sorry to all those insurance salesmen out there.
If you aren't a historical detail lover then steer away.
This book goes on and on with little intiguing plot. The reader drones the listener to sleep!
Give the plot some direction!
Put some interest in his reading.
Too many to mention.
It was a waste of money!
So, I figure there are two kinds of people: those who like immaculately detailed nautical novels, and those who don't. I am 'meh' about them, which is probably why I've never gotten around to reading Moby Dick. I love paintings of naval battles, but when it comes to reading many pages detailing the operations of a sailing vessel and the Royal Navy's rank hierarchy, I would rather skip to the story.
So, Patrick O'Brian, known for his historical and nautical accuracy, wrote about twenty of these Aubrey/Maturin novels apparently. I can see them as fine reading for those who really love the time period or reading about naval battles, but while the battles were thrilling enough, the story at times moved at the pace of an over-laden frigate with a weak breeze.
Jack Aubrey is a captain without a ship until he is given command of a sloop (a very small, low-end warship) and assigned escort duty. Unfortunately, the former captain, who got an upgrade to a better ship, took most of his crew with him. One of the first things we learn about the Royal Navy in the 19th century is that captains were often responsible for outfitting and crewing their ships with little financial support from the crown. In need of a ship's surgeon, among other things, Aubrey is lucky enough to encounter a physician in need of a job, a half-Irish Natural Philosopher named Stephen Maturin. Initially, Maturin's primary purpose is to have everything aboard ship explained to him, allowing O'Brian to dump exposition on the reader. However, Maturin has some secrets, one of them being that he was involved in an Irish uprising that went badly (as most Irish uprisings did). Despite this, he and Aubrey soon become good friends - surprisingly quickly, in fact.
The rest of the book is mostly a realistic depiction of life aboard a warship, long weeks of tedious routine interrupted by occasional bloody action. The officers and the common seamen are a rough lot, and this is the era of rum and floggings. Aubrey, as befits a protagonist at the beginning of his own series, pulls off a spectacular victory against a much larger Spanish ship with several times the guns and crew of the Sophie, but promptly gets screwed over by a spiteful superior officer and is thus robbed of his rightful glory. He's then captured by a French admiral after another overwhelmingly one-side battle, but he and his crew are paroled back to Gibraltar, where he faces a court martial for losing his ship.
The historical details are great and Aubrey's naval encounters are described with plenty of action mixed with sea terms. He has narrow escapes, narrow victories, wins and losses, and we get to know him and his crew over the course of the book. However, the only characters who are memorable are Aubrey, Maturin, and an important secondary character, who dies in the final battle. They're also all rather same-ish. While the developing friendship between Aubrey and Maturin is rendered in many humorous and heartwarming scenes, Master and Commander is otherwise not a particularly character-driven novel, and the story serves only to introduce us to Commander Aubrey and his ship.
So, if this is the kind of book you like, this is the kind of book you will like. I would not say I absolutely wouldn't read any more of these, but book one wasn't enough to hook me on the series.
Patrick Tull's reading of the novel was fine, with the right accents and vocal expressiveness for all the characters, but I found his frequent swallowing and licking his lips to be slightly distracting.
I was very excited to start the Master and Commander series. These books seemed right up our alley. But the story was so bogged down in nautical detail, numbers and measurements that my mind kept wandering far away. Historical fiction is our favorite genre but this is just too, too much "historical details" and not enough story. We kept hoping that the set-up would pass and the story would get rolling but half way through we ran out of patience and attention span. Sad.
Patrick Tull is not a good narrator. If I had known that Simon Vance had a version of this book, I would have gotten it instead. Simon Vance is the better narrator IMHO. Just look at the wide variety of novels by other authors read by him with high ratings. Patrick Tull on the other hand has these annoying pauses where he is "catching his breath" and sometimes you can even hear his breathing.
Based on the description of this book, I was excited about listening to descriptions of the Man of War ships and the battles that took place. However, the descriptions turned into seemingly endless conversations between a "landlubber" and various crew members that I kept tuning out after about 5 minutes. I think it was the style of writing and the narration. Maybe today's vernacular is too ingrained in me, but I just could not bear the combination of the narrator's British accent and the language from that period. I didn't do very well in English Lit in college and I would have failed a test on this book. This is the only book I have ever purchased (audio or written) that I didn't finish. I didn't even make it to the second part of the download and had to force myself to listen to the first 6 hours, thinking it would get better.
I haven't seen the movie of the same name, but I can only hope that it was a VERY loose adaptation of this novel.
With a two audio book a month habit, this is the first one I've had to put down. The fact that it "reads" more like a nautical dictionary than an adventure story, along with every character sounding nearly identical, made it very hard to follow what was going on... especially in traffic. This is also the first book where the narrator's breathing, swallowing, and other general mouth noises distracted from the story for me. The story itself had promise though, and I'll probably try again at some point with the other narrator.