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Master and Commander: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 1 | [Patrick O'Brian]

Master and Commander: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 1

This, the first in the series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging.
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Publisher's Summary

This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

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

©1970 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"The best historical novels ever written." (The New York Times Book Review)
"No writer alive can move one as O'Brian can; no one can make you laugh so loud with hilarity, whiten your knuckles with unbearable tension or choke with emotion. He is the master." (Irish Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Lisa Salt Lake City, UT, United States 02-06-09
    Lisa Salt Lake City, UT, United States 02-06-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprised that I loved it!"

    This series was recommended to me by my husband. I was doubtful, but decided to try it. I loved it! It's way more than just naval battles, although there's plenty of that. There is also the great history, and the extensive character development. I'm currently almost done with the second book and will be getting all of them! I'm really interested to see what happens next. My commute goes by in a flash, as do chores like grocery shopping or cleaning. As far as the narrator, Simon Vance is the best in my book. I have also enjoyed other books read by him. My husband swears by Patrick Tull, but I think he's too hard to understand. Vance's crisp British accent and the voices that he gives to the different characters really make the book a joy to listen to. He really captures the mood of the moment, whether the character is happy, sad or otherwise at that time.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie in Plano Plano, TX United States 10-20-06
    Debbie in Plano Plano, TX United States 10-20-06 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous series, great narrator, parental caution"

    I have just finished this series and the only bad thing that I have to say about it is that I have just finished this series. Oh, I wish it weren't over!

    First a comment about narrators: Unabridged versions of this book are available from Blackstone Audio with Simon Vance narrating and from Recorded Books with Patrick Tull narrating. As of this writing, Recorded Books has released the entire series whereas Blackstone Audio has only released 12 of the books. However, they are planning on releasing a new book approximately every other month, so it shouldn’t be that long before they will also have the entire series available. Patrick Tull has a strong following and having listened to many of his books, I can see why. However, I have also enjoyed Simon Vance’s readings immensely. I personally prefer Vance’s readings over Tull’s as I think more of the dry humor comes through. I strongly encourage you to listen to samples of both from several of the books in the series and go with the one that suits you best.

    Plenty has been written about the characters, plots, etc., so I just want to say that I’m a “chick” and I loved this series, and I also want to add comments from a parent’s perspective.

    I finally got around to seeing the movie about a year and a half ago and felt that the movie was suitable for my elementary-aged children (with supervision). Unfortunately for my children, while the adult themes in the movie will go over their heads and I will let them watch it, the adult themes in the books will not. There is strong profanity, extreme drunkenness, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and rather straightforward talk about sex. None of it is gratuitous or unnecessarily graphic, but it is too much for children. I’m guessing 16 is probably the youngest at which I would be comfortable with them reading this series, but that is only a guess as my children have a way to go before then.

    28 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 01-25-07
    Lawrence Greensboro, NC, United States 01-25-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Fantastic Narration"

    It appears there is strong feeling about the different readers. The full series is available from both Vance and Tull. 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. 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. Nevertheless Tull's version kept my attention better during the lengthy passages concerning the finer points of seamanship.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelly La Mesa, CA, United States 05-05-11
    Shelly La Mesa, CA, United States 05-05-11
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    "Wonderful for either gender!"

    I was originally hesitant to purchase this audiobook because I thought it would be better geared for men than women, but after reading several reviews that stated otherwise I decided to try it. I loved the book! What a wonderful crew of characters, great battles and interesting experiences. The writing is superb and the story most enjoyable. I am "sold" on the series and looks like I will have to make my way through all 20 now!

    Some notes on the narration of these books. I HIGHLY suggest you listen to samples of this book and several others in the series from both Simon Vance and Patrick Tull. I know most people feel that Patrick gives the best narration and lends the appropriate "feel' to the book, but I happened to be irritated by certain aspects of Tull's speech. There is a breathy and airy aspect to his speech that ruins it for me personally even though I can see what an excellent narrator he is. I couldn't finish any of the samples as it grated on me. Whereas Simon Vance may not lend as accurate of a feel to the book, I love him as a narrator. This completes 11 books I have listened to by Vance (the girl with the dragon tattoo series, the temeraire dragon series and the kings speech) and I have yet once to be disappointed by him. He is consistently a good reader and with some books an excellent one. So take the time to listen to the samples of both narrators and decide which is the best for you. They are both quite different.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 03-25-13
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 03-25-13

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

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    "The best series I have 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!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teahouse Fox 08-26-11 Listener Since 2006

    ...and this is my favorite store on the Internet!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mister Pullings --- Beat to quarters!"

    If Stephen Maturin is the most hopeless landlubber ever to set sail, then surely Jack Aubrey is the most hopeless seaman ever to touch ground. They are a curious pair, two men who could not be more unalike in so many ways, sharing mostly a love of music, and yet together they are legendary. They are sometimes ordinary, sometimes brilliant men, who have flashes of genius in between long evenings of music and toasted cheese.

    Captain John Aubrey of His Majesty's Navy, known widely as Lucky Jack, is an honorable, genial, good natured and generous fellow, and more often than not, skippers a happy crew, many of whom follow him from one mostly lucrative mission to another. He's a clever, crafty, and talented commander who would sail a washbucket against a French frigate if he could mount a cannon on it and stretch canvas above. And he'd probably win.

    Among the crew that he takes with him on every cruise is his particular friend, ship's surgeon Dr. Maturin. As spectacular as Jack is afloat, Stephen is hopeless. Even after several years, the good doctor is often mere feet away from being pitched overboard, drowned, knocked on the head, or tipped into the hold, for lack of clapping on to whatever's available with both hands, and still has difficulty telling starboard, larboard, stern and bow from one another. He is a talented physician and biologist, however, and Jack and the crew lovingly look out for him.

    On land, they are quite the reverse. Jack, who would shrewdly sort out an enemy commander's deceptions and set them on their ears, is seemingly cast adrift at home, often practiced upon by the admiralty, enemy spies, con-men, fast women, and politicians. He's a poor judge of horses, farming and landlubbers, often getting bilked out of great sums of money won as prizes for his nautical victories.

    Stephen is, on the other hand, in addition to being a noteworthy 'natural philosopher', author, lecturer and surgeon, one of the most prolific British spies operating during the Napoleonic era. A shrewd judge of his fellow man, secretive, short tempered, brusque, manipulative of enemy agents, or simply deadly to them, he (mostly unknown to Jack) protects the Captain from many misfortunes, or bails him out of trouble almost as regularly as Jack plucks him out of the sea, or off some shipwrecked island. The doctor becomes as dangerous in his own right to Napoleon's war machine as Jack is, until both become targets of enemy agents.

    Patrick O'Brian has created a whole hero out of two men and made us care about their companions, how they got on together, in their ideal settings, and with each completely out of their elements, and follows them over several years of triumphs and failure. The historic details are a treasure all their own, and many of the tales are based on actual events that took place in the early 19th century during the war of 1812 and the Napoleonic war. He weaves these intricate details into each book without changing the facts of history, but setting Aubrey and Maturin into a setting of period events and dialogue in which they shine.

    It's high adventure in the age of sail, as well as a game of pawns in deadly earnest. Twenty books and one unfinished novel later, it's still a thrill when Captain Jack orders the crew to beat to quarters and clear for action, because you know some kind of brilliance is about to transpire. It's still nail biting suspense when Maturin is pitted against enemy spies, forced to escape or take down French agents, because there's no telling how he'll get out of it, or at what cost.

    If you haven't already journeyed with Aubrey and Maturin, you can't go wrong taking an adventure with the once and future crew of the H.M.S. Surprise. Don't however read the books out of order: The novel is written in series, with some books following immediately on the heels of the events of its predecessors.

    There is more than one narrator for this great series, so absolutely listen to the samples for each to decide which suits you more. There are camps who prefer one over the other, my own preference being Simon Vance, but do take care not to accidentally snap up the next installment by the wrong narrator, as an abrupt change in the voices is frequently jarring, regardless of which you prefer.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emilie baton rouge, LA, USA 01-22-06
    Emilie baton rouge, LA, USA 01-22-06
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    "great listen"

    Great story and great narrator! My first audiobook and I really enjoyed it. The narrator was outstanding and the story was engaging - even funny at times. If you like naval stories or even regency novels, you'll enjoy this book. Can't wait to listen to others in the series.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colin Cleveland, OH, United States 08-04-11
    Colin Cleveland, OH, United States 08-04-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "A Brilliant Beginning"

    "Master and Commander" is the opening salvo of the twenty book 'Aubrey/Maturin' series. (A twenty-first book was half complete at the time of the author's death.)

    This is the tale of Lieutenant Jack Aubrey's first command, HMS Sophie, in 1800 during the Napoleonic Wars. He quickly meets Dr. Stephen Maturin, a Dublin physician down on his luck who agrees to join his ship leading to one of the great friendships of naval historical fiction.

    Patrick O'Brian's strength lay in his intimate attention to detail. From his description of Port Mahon, to the creaking of the rigging when 'Sophie' is at sea, to the different dialects and vernacular common to the late 18th/early 19th century, O'Brian immerses you in his world and one comes away with a greater understanding of the era.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Edgewood, NM, United States 11-30-10
    Joseph Edgewood, NM, United States 11-30-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Incredible Saga."

    I was told prior to beginning this series that "Fortunate is the reader that is beginning this journey for the first time". I can not agree more. I started the first book back in July of 2010 and have been working my way through them back to back.

    I can honestly say I have loved every minute and am going to be at a loss when I finally finish. ( I am currently on book 14 as of Nov 28, 2010 ) It's a total immersion in the life of the characters and I feel like I will be losing a friends when its over.

    There are 2 different Narrators for this series and I listened to both prior to going with Simon Vance. I
    feel that Simon Vance does an excellent job bringing the books to life and every character is easily recognized as soon as he starts speaking.

    I can't say enough about the series and even purchased a couple of books as companions for background, including "Nelsons Navy" to bring more to the series. You can't go wrong here,

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelsey T. Jones Clarkston, MI 04-18-04
    Kelsey T. Jones Clarkston, MI 04-18-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best books I've read in years"

    It's a bit of an unexplored field here in which O'Brian has chosen to write. I personally like to skip around genres randomly; a little Sci-Fi here, some historical stuff there, maybe some modern military fiction etc. I found this one to be a great choice. The characters here are extremely well developed. No shallowness in sight. Not even in the minor ones. The plot keeps your interest without becoming cheap and predictable. I do see one possible point that could turn sour for some readers: If you aren't one that can stomach vast amounts of technical and strategic details, you may have some trouble with this book. I for one had to go searching the web to find out what the heck a Studding Sail was. Not to mention that keeping the directions straight can be a challenge. (starboard, larboard, lee, windward, port, etc. and that's just for the two sides).
    One problem I often experience in certain series is a tiresome feeling that the author has begun to write on a formula, or I begin to predict every twist of the plot. Not so here. I'm still working my way through the books, but the plot continues to develop and move without the sensation that situations are being routinely thrown in, then conveniently popped back to the status quo like old reruns of Star Trek. Unlike the Sci-Fi series, it is reccomended that you take these volumes in order or else you will lose the plotline.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
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