I've read the entire series nearly three times (I got to book sixteen the third time before I could stand it no more). As a gay man, I cannot overlook the fact that O'Brian's references to gays is always negative or a fake neutral minus (e.g., Jack saying that he doesn't like gays in the navy but doesn't believe gays should be necessarily hung). Because I loved the series, I continually made excuses for O'Brian's treatment of gay characters. It was easy to say he was only being contextual to the times he was portraying. Yet, I no longer believe that tells the whole story. Gay characters come up in very many of the books, and the worst traitors in the series were a homosexual couple (what better to make people hate the characters even more). I sometimes wondered if O'Brian weren't a self-loathing closeted gay man, for he often describes the beauty of male characters. It had been about eight years since I had read the series, so I was happy to see it on Audible, but as I began listening to Master and Commander, I was struck by how quickly O'Brian went to work on slamming gays, making the Sailing Master a suspected gay character, per an officer Jack talked with, and using that to question his continued presence in such an important position on the ship. Lovers of the series may dismiss these words, but pay attention to what you read or listen too, for I believe you will find you can no longer defend O'Brian, either.
I loved this book and the narration is excellent. The story allows us to simply join the lives of two boys as they fall in love. The story line isn't too over the top and the gay kids are not forced by the author to face the worst that the world has to offer. Instead, it is a sweet story of love, family connections and facing our prejudices, not fleeing from them. This kind of story is a rare find---I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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