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H.M.S. Surprise Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

At the opening of his third novel in an ongoing adventure series by Patrick O'Brian, Jack Aubrey is cruising off Cape Sicie when his friend Stephen Maturin (more serenely situated in Sussex) is informed of the Board's decision regarding Aubrey's prize money, taken after victorious engagement with a Spanish squadron at Cape Santa Maria. The money, five million pieces of eight, is not, as is the custom of war, to be divided among the crews of the four victorious vessels, but is to be treated as droits of the Crown of England. Five million pounds is, after all, five million pounds.

It will be a hard rub for Aubrey, who had counted on that money to clear his debts and make himself a suitable match, but no more hard than for Maturin who spends much of his free time at Mapes Court in the company of the lovely Sophia Williams, Aubrey's betrothed. How could Stephen deliver the news that would break Sophia's heart?

When Jack docks at Portsmouth, he is clapped in irons forthwith, and carried off to a sponging house for debtors. Jack knows a prisoner can rot in jail, so when Sir Joseph graciously offers him escape aboard the H.M.S. Surprise, bound for the East Indies, he makes for the only place where his unsteady virtue remains intact: the sea.

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

©1973 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"O'Brian knows his history and sailing, as is evident in the rich particulars....Stretching its genre but never escaping it, the novel will impress those who enjoy swashbucklers." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (1162 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Clifford 09-05-10
    Clifford 09-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Make note of your reader"

    Patrick Tull and Simon Vance are both gifted narrators. However, when you start with one you may find it a jarring change when you start listening to the other. Each brings their own life to the characters, but it is a very different life. My own personal preference are the characters created by Mr. Tull, but Mr. Vance's acting is no less compelling, only different.
    If you care about such things, don't make the mistake that I made, buying the edition without first checking by whom it is narrated.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 02-03-08
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 02-03-08 Member Since 2016

    I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "India as thorough as Conrad"

    Recall your personal explorations of Joseph Conrad; Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, et al. Remember how Conrad's descriptive narrative put you in the locales of his protagonists? Now, place Jack Aubrey and Steven Maturin in Conrad's "Orient," and breathe in, observe, and encounter the rich, diverse, yet painful realities of Imperial England's dalliances with India. Blend in storms, battles, and human intrigue...what is your reward? H.M.S. Surprise, a brilliant and insightful examination of the quest for Empire told through the eyes of our beloved Jack and Steven.

    If you have made it this far in the Aubrey Series (narrated by Tull) you are richer for it. Keep going, it only gets better.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Benton, AR, USA 06-14-04
    Bob Benton, AR, USA 06-14-04 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A pleasure to listen to"

    If you enjoyed the first 2 books you'll love this one as well. Patrick Tull continues to provide really superb narration: he excels at weaving through the naval jargon, and pays particular attention to the dialog.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Maple Grove, MN, USA 11-22-04
    Robert Maple Grove, MN, USA 11-22-04 Member Since 2014
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    "A superb series"

    A rivetting story, with very good historical detail. Make sure you listen to the unabridged book (you don't want to miss anything), with Patrick Tull reading (an excellent reader).

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-04-11
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-04-11 Member Since 2016

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "HMS Surprise"

    This is the third book in the series I had finished the first two. It is great to follow them in order. Unfortunately I started toward the end and then saw Audible has them all so started with the beginning and will go forward just skipping the ones I have already read. Patrick Tull is the perfect reader for this series. Love the information about the Royal Navy and the East Indian Company ships. Can not wait to listen to the next one and another trip into history.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Gahanna, OH, USA 11-18-09
    Robert Gahanna, OH, USA 11-18-09 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Aubrey/Maturin, O'Brian/Tull"

    I accidently bought this book with a reader other than Tull. After about 15 minutes, I had to buy this copy. No author captures the Royal Navy like O'Brian. No reader captures O'Brian like Tull. Aubrey/Maturin & O'Brian/Tull. You'll never think of one without the other once you've listend to this series.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel D Offenberg 01-12-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Fun Novel"

    H.M.S. Surprise is the third in the Aubrey/Maturin series. As with the first two, it is a very realistic (mostly) but fictional story of life in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era, focusing on the two companions: Capt. Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin.

    At the novel's start, Jack's captures from the end of Post Captain are ruled to not be prizes, putting Jack back in debt. Jack's love with Sophie continues while Stephen's romance with Diana flounders. After Jack ends up in debtor's prison, the only escape is a long trip on the Surprise to the Indian Ocean.

    Although this is one of a series of novels, it is not essential to encounter them in order (at least, not for the first three; I haven't gone past this one yet). The novels combine to make a full story arc, but each one is its own self-contained story.

    Warning about H.M.S. Surprise, and most of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series: There is a great deal of nautical lingo from the age of sail with absolutely no translation for land-lubbers. If you don't know what a taffrail is, or how to tell a topsail from a t'gallant sail, a translation may be needed. Wikipedia can be your friend.

    Patrick Tull's reading is very good; Audible has versions of this book read by Tull and Simon Vance. I feel that Tull is a superior story-teller who brings the book to life; his gravelly voice and (south England?) accent give the book a very nautical flair. But his strong regional accent and the older production quality might make it harder to hear. (Listen to the sample.)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil 04-23-05
    Phil 04-23-05 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another good listen."

    I just finished listening to this book, and it is always frustrating how each book is ended leaving you wanting more. I know this is good because this is a very long series, but it is just a little odd. I have almost two weeks until I can download the next two books, and I dont know how I am going to wait. I am glad the author finaly had jack go on a somwhat normal naval trip. This was a realistic change from bounding here and there, dressing in bear's hides, sleeping with the admiral's wife, and having his ships constantly sunk. Since the name of the ship is in the title I dont think I am giving away too much by saying he kept the surprise in pretty much one piece for most of the story. I once again enjoyed the devolopment of Steven's character in the book, I find him a mystery sometimes. Although I did think this developement of stevens character was at the cost of developing Jack further. I guess this is why it is called the Aubrey/Maturin series, they will just have to share the spot light. Once again, I apreciate the Plot twists the author uses, and the false forshadowing verses true forshadowing. Overall, another good read, and I cant wait to read/listen to the sequal.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-16
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-16

    I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "You have debauched my sloth"

    “Surely man in general is born to be oppressed or solitary, if he is to be fully human...”
    ― Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise

    So, I am now three books into the Aubrey/Maturin series and the books are only getting better. Master and Commander and Post Captain were 459 to 527 pages respectively, and I wouldn't fault a page. However, now it seems O'Brian has trimmed and edited these books down to the sub-400 page range and they seem to spirit along nicely.

    In its way, this beginning of this series reminds me a bit of the beginning of Alan Furst's Night Soldiers series. The first two are bulkier than the rest, but then the authors settle down and find their groove. Both Furst and O'Brian, by book three in their series, have worked out that they can write thousands of more pages with the setting, characters, and action they have in their heads and by book three they both have their pace.

    Major concern going forward: I think the relationship between Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin is amazing, and one of the graces of the English language. I'm not sure, however, how long my attention can be plucked by expansion of the duet to include Diana and Sophie. They will either kill me, thrill me, or bore me eventually. But how do I love these men and their affection for women, science, music, people, nature, etc. It really is a giant love note to that Napoleonic age. I'm also not sure how much of the nautical lingo will eventually seep into my brain. Perhaps, by the time I'm finishing up book 20, I will understand most of what is happening during a naval engagement. Like a teenager just finishing Spanish 1, I can understand bits and pieces. Just enough of this language is uncovered to make me dangerous and hesitant to even describe what just happened. But I am hooked.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TW Brown, Author, Editor, and Reviewer Estacada, Oregon 03-15-16 Member Since 2013

    Todd W. Brown

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow, and a change in the narration is not easy to"

    So far, this is my least favorite offering. The first two have me invested enough to continue, but this just seemed to plod. A bit heavy on Stephen's journal entries and ruminations. Yes, there are some interesting moments, but for a book with such a good beginning simply faded for me and the middle had me almost putting the book down for good and actually skipping on to book 4 in hopes that it is better. Let's hope that it is.

    Also, apparently Simon Vance's full length versions are gone. Switching to Mr. Tull is proving tedious for me. I will give it one more go, but I may abandon the series.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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