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H.M.S. Surprise: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 3 | [Patrick O'Brian]

H.M.S. Surprise: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 3

Third in the series of Aubrey-Maturin adventures, this book is set among the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent and in the distant waters ploughed by the ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. But somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams: the ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet.
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Publisher's Summary

Third in the series of Aubrey-Maturin adventures, this book is set among the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent and in the distant waters ploughed by the ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. But somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams: the ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet.

Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.

©1973 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"The best historical novels ever written." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (392 )
5 star
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4.6 (174 )
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Story
4.7 (174 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 02-16-07
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 02-16-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    138
    ratings
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    34
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    5
    5
    Overall
    "Excellent Narration"

    It appears there is strong feeling about the different readers. The full series will be available from both readers within months. I find both readers' versions enjoyable but prefer Vance. The voice he gives to each character brings out and complements O'Brian's dramatic and humorous content.

    I find that Tull allows the personalities to fall a bit flat. Indeed the Tull's Aubrey simply fails to capture the perpetually high-spirited captain. Moreover the Irish accent of Maturin seems unrealistic given the mixed heritage and his scholarly bent. The quiet, neutral voice chosen by Vance is more convincing.

    Whichever reader on chooses, however, the story is top-notch!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 05-05-14
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 05-05-14 Member Since 2006

    I spend about 55 hours a week driving and really enjoy having a good book to pass the miles.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    "The best series I've ever read."

    I cannot say enough about Patrick O'brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. This is the best series of books I have ever read hands down. If you are thinking about reading it do, you won't regret it.The narrator I chose, Simon Vance, is one of, if not the best English narrators I've heard. His characters are all given a different voice that is believable and entertaining. Before buying the Simon Vance version I checked out Master and Commander at the local library and listened to Patrick Tull. I found him to be quite dull and lacking in good characterization. It was almost as if your boring old English butler was reading you the story because he has to. The friendship between Aubrey and Maturin is wonderfully developed and you feel as if you are there on the deck or in the cabin with them as they carry out their missions. All of the different seamen and other characters are consistant throughout the series. My only regret is that there were not more books to listen to. I would love for some of Aubrey and Maturin's early years to be chronicled so that I can have more background on where they are coming from in their respective views of the world. If you enjoyed Horatio Hornblower or the Sharpe series from Cornwell you will love the Aubrey/Maturin series from Patrick O'brian. Buy it and go to sea with Lucky Jack Aubrey!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 11-05-12
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2010

    Dweenaleena

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Vance is wonderful"

    This series is entertaining and enjoyable. The characters are well developed and the nautical and military details are interesting. Simon Vance does a fantastic job as reader. The books in this series are a bit 'fluffy', there are no great philosophical issues being explored here...perfect for a beach listen or a tedious flight.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg katy, TX, United States 08-20-11
    Greg katy, TX, United States 08-20-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator"

    I made the mistake of Buying this book narrated by Tull, I know some folks like his style but the long pauses between sentences and his inability to vary his speech for the different characters enough to fill them out, well I ended up buying the book twice to hear Vance who I find much more entertaining. Tull can hold a tune Vance doesn't sing,That's one point in Tulls favor, Listen to a sample before buying is what I recommend, hehe It was a great book, Truly enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie in Plano Plano, TX United States 08-01-05
    Debbie in Plano Plano, TX United States 08-01-05 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    "Great novel, wonderful narration!"

    I personally have enjoyed Simon Vance's narration of the Aubrey/Maturin series a great deal; I think he capture's the books tone beautifully! I listened to another sample of Tull's narration and it just sounds all _wrong_ to me. Nothing against Tull, I think it's just personal preference. If you haven't heard either, than I strongly recommend that you listen to samples from both before making a decision.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scottpen 05-06-14
    scottpen 05-06-14 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    8
    1
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    Story
    "Great performance"

    Which it's a good show.... Sir!

    I'm a big fan of the series, and have read it several times through. Listening to the books during my commute, however, has somehow made the familiar characters even more alive. A few years have passed since I read the stories last and I'm enjoying them almost as if new. Vance's performance is wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Newberry, FL, United States 02-18-13
    Robert Newberry, FL, United States 02-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Pleasurable for an old salt or a new one."
    If you could sum up H.M.S. Surprise in three words, what would they be?

    adventure, prose, thoughtful.


    What other book might you compare H.M.S. Surprise to and why?

    "Moby Dick or the Whale” Although Patrick O'Brian is a 20th century writer, he really harkens back to the early 19th century. The poetic flow of the prose, the variance into alternative disciplines (natural philosophy, biology, physiography) and the adherence to historic accuracy make a novel as compelling as Herman Melville’s classic work.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Simon is one of my favorite narrators. His vocal abilities are expansive. He has as many accents as there are characters in the book. He could make a mediocre book pleasurable, although I would not consider this, in any way, a mediocre book. Patrick O’Brian is a wonderful writer and Simon Vance’s performance only adds to the wonderment.


    Who was the most memorable character of H.M.S. Surprise and why?

    This is the Aubrey and Maturin series and you really can't distinguish between the two. Jack Aubrey entices you with his wit and innocence as the extrovert and Stephen Maturin displays the introverted intellect that you crave. My feelings fluctuate between the two but if I take them together they paint a more complete whole.


    Any additional comments?

    I would think that any reader would enjoy this book but someone who is compelled by historical fiction and by wind-powered adventure would be enthralled with this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bishop 01-31-11
    Bishop 01-31-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
    5
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    "Loved the Book, Narrator was not my favorite"

    I'd give the book 5 stars if I would have gotten the Patrick Tull naration. Simon Vance, though not bad by any measure, couldn't match Patrick Tull's narration of the series for me. The book itself is one of the best of the series. It is filled with suspense and action throughout. The main characters face personal and professional challenges that define their character again and again. This is a book where the reader gets a real feel for the characters of Jack Aubrey and Dr. Maturin at a greater level than in the first 2 books. The beloved HMS Surprise is also introduced, a ship that comes back into the series again and again. An excellent book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Prattsburgh, NY, United States 10-31-10
    David Prattsburgh, NY, United States 10-31-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must have series for any Adventure fan..."

    I've completed my first pass through O'Brian's universe and have just gotten to HMS Suprise on my second run through. This series is one of the few I've read/listened to that virtually REQUIRES multiple readings... the richness of the story make it as enjoyable now as the first time. I don't know if I could add anything to the many great reviews I've read of the various novels in the series... so I'll just add that it's every bit as brilliant as the consensus suggests, read (or listen to) just one of the novels and you'll find yourself greedily devouring the second... third... fourth... then looking back with regret that Patrick wasn't able to finish just one more (or two... or three).

    As far as the two narrators... I have an almost even split between the two and while Tull has a wonderful breadth of accents that clearly delineate the various characters, Vance has amazing skill at conveying emotion... both broader and more subtle than Tull. When Jack yells "SURPRISE!!!" for the first time... I'm glad it was Vance's performance (the second pass thorough... I broke out into a HUGE smile, having the cheek to feel I've gotten to know Jack over the last 6 months or so - the time it took me to get through the first pass). Interestingly, my first O'Brian novels were Tull and when I got the Vance version of HMS Surprise I was initially very turned off by his very formal English... but by the end of the book I'd become as happy with his reading as with Tull's, but for different reasons. Vance's Aubrey is my favorite, but I like Tull's support characters (Killeck especially). I'm glad I bought some of both performers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Pearland, TX, USA 10-09-05
    Catherine Pearland, TX, USA 10-09-05
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    "H.M.S. Surprise"

    I enjoyed listening to this book. However, for those of us who are not accustomed to 50 different British accents, understanding everything may be somewhat of a challenge. That said, I really enjoyed the story, despite the fact that there was not much of a plot. It seems that these books are more of a fictional biography of a sea captain and a doctor, rather than a book with an actual plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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