Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1999 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"O'Brian is not that hard a taste to acquire, but he is very tough to shake...[the Aubrey/Maturin series] is a great work." (Boston Globe)
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I started listening to this series about two months ago. I expected to enjoy the first book and then move on to other authors and titles. I thought of it as a "guy's book." That's not what happened.
I was completely sucked into the world that Patrick O'Brian created with Jack Aubrey and Steven Maturin at its core. Over two months time, I've listened to all 20 -- and a number of them I listened to twice. I lived with headphones around my neck.
Now that I'm at the end, I miss Patrick Tull's voice in my ear. I continue to think about the ways the author created and used these characters. It is simply a masterful piece of writing and the narration is spot on.
If you're thinking of an Aubrey/Maturin inspired dinner, there's a great cookbook derived from the series called "Lobscouse and Spotted Dog." Perfect for a movie menu to accompany "Master and Commander" or the next movie -- rumored to be based on "Reverse of the Medal."
The narration of this entire series (by Patrick Tull) was phenomenal. When I re-read these books I hear Maturin's and Aubrey's voices exactly as Tull presents them. He made these characters come to life - he made them real. I have listened to many Audible books, particularly ones where the characters are from a certain time/place/class/education, and Tull has nailed O'Brian's people perfectly. Frankly, I am at a loss to understand why they were later re-recorded by a different narrator...
If a person picked up Blue at the Mizzen without having ever read (or listened to) any other of the Aubrey-Maturin series they would certainly be entertained but they would be at a disadvantage (or perhaps I should say they would be doing themselves an injustice). This book is the culmination (the last) of twenty books in a chronological series. These books (all of them) are an experience to be savored, but more so, far more, in their entirety. This is last (finished) book in a series that follows the lives, loves and careers of two men over the span of many years and through numerous adventures and hardships. These are characters that we all have come to care about over time. Which, is the real, lasting gift that a truly gifted novelist bestows to his readers. I don't think you can fairly take one of the series of out that sequence and judge it as a stand-alone novel. If anything, I would say that Blue at the Mizzen is the last chapter of a long and absolutely gripping and endearing novel. And under that premise I would say that O'Brian gave us a fitting, if bitter-sweet, final chapter. It's hard to say goodbye to Aubrey and Maturin (and the rest).
Maturin. That Patrick Tull managed to pull together Maturin's Napoleonic-era English, laced (heavily) with a Catalan-Irish brogue, is a wonder (and a delight) to the ears. Masterful.
A final note on this series... This is not simply a 'period piece' where contemporary voices are set against a historical backdrop for effect. Nor is it a dry, historical docu-drama where the central characters are there simply in place to narrate who-did-what, when and where.
O'Brian's characters are men and women of their time - not ours. O'Brian (thankfully) does not give in to the modern evil of political correctness. There is no sense [to this reader] that O'Brian held back or diluted his characters to play it safe. These characters come to us as real - with genuine thoughts, expressions, passions and emotions. But for all the distance of time, historical circumstance and place these are characters (people really) that we wish we knew, conversed with and were friends with.
I have just spent the last 2 years listening to the 20 books in this series. It has been superb. This book does not disappoint, and for those that have followed the story I'm sure you'll shed a tear at the end. I shall miss very much Aubrey, Maturin and Patrick Tull. It has been a wonderful adventure and worth every minute.
This was, of course, one of the best books I've read, even if it were only by dint of being one of the Aubrey-Maturin series written by Patrick O'Brian. Every book in this series is great, the author doesn't bring across the reality of life in the RN during the Napoleonic wars, he seems rather to deliver his readers TO the era.
And then to have to perfect voicing of characters in the book perfectly rendered by Patrick Tull in the reading just makes perfection more perfect (can we do that?).
The only down point of this book is that it is the final full book in the series, and I'm always sad to reach the end of it. It's like losing a good friend...until I realize that I can start again at book #1 if I so desire. In fact, enough of this writing, it's time to start the series again!
What an incredible ride, from the first book to the last. I enjoyed every word, every joke, every chapter. It is true that "blue at the mizzen" is not O'Brian's best work. However, it has its own charm and its own special place as a great work in modern literature. I think that it is magnificent that an author would be inspired to write book of this kind (let alone 20 in a series) in my lifetime.
Tull brings an already superb story to life. Can't imagine a better reader for this book
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