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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 splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, Royal Navy, 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 road of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Let more academic folk reach for Moby Dick; I'll take the Aubrey / Maturin series every time. The first of what has been called "the best [series of] historical novels ever written", Master and Commander has everything a good adventure story needs: well-drawn characters, a unique backdrop, and rousing action. And in Patrick Tull, it has the perfect narrator - the voice of an old sea dog who enjoys nothing more than sharing a well-told tale. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, Royal Navy, 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 road of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

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

©1984 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.

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

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2307 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.2 (1172 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (1178 )
5 star
 (709)
4 star
 (239)
3 star
 (117)
2 star
 (68)
1 star
 (45)
Performance
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  •  
    Kirk Richmond, TX, United States 12-23-10
    Kirk Richmond, TX, United States 12-23-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    395
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Tull is not a good narrator"

    Patrick Tull is not a good narrator. If I had known that Simon Vance had a version of this book, I would have gotten it instead. Simon Vance is the better narrator IMHO. Just look at the wide variety of novels by other authors read by him with high ratings. Patrick Tull on the other hand has these annoying pauses where he is "catching his breath" and sometimes you can even hear his breathing.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 07-12-13
    John 07-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    111
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good... Won't read next 19 books"

    I enjoyed the stroy and thought it was interesting. However, I will not read the rest of the series because it is just too slowly moving and doesn't keep me wanting more.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank Portland, OR, United States 10-25-12
    Frank Portland, OR, United States 10-25-12 Listener Since 2005

    fporegon2

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Distracting narration"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No I would not recommend this audiobook to a friend


    Would you recommend Master and Commander to your friends? Why or why not?

    Hard to say....I didn't finish it.


    What didn’t you like about Patrick Tull’s performance?

    I have enjoyed Patrick Tull's narration of at least one other audiobook. However, I found his style of narration of this title so halting and retiring that I alternately became distracted by it or lapsed into stupor.


    Was Master and Commander worth the listening time?

    Hard to be fair - didn't listen to very much


    Any additional comments?

    Many others found Patrick Tull's narration more than satisfactory so try a sample befroe buying.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Duncan, BC, Canada 08-27-12
    Walter Duncan, BC, Canada 08-27-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ongoing drivel"
    Would you try another book from Patrick O'Brian and/or Patrick Tull?

    This book goes on and on with little intiguing plot. The reader drones the listener to sleep!


    What could Patrick O'Brian have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Give the plot some direction!


    How could the performance have been better?

    Put some interest in his reading.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Master and Commander?

    Too many to mention.


    Any additional comments?

    It was a waste of money!

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 03-03-12
    David 03-03-12 Member Since 2012

    Indiscriminate Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1443
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    298
    294
    FOLLOWERS
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    277
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    Performance
    Story
    "Lots and lots of nautical"

    So, I figure there are two kinds of people: those who like immaculately detailed nautical novels, and those who don't. I am 'meh' about them, which is probably why I've never gotten around to reading Moby Dick. I love paintings of naval battles, but when it comes to reading many pages detailing the operations of a sailing vessel and the Royal Navy's rank hierarchy, I would rather skip to the story.

    So, Patrick O'Brian, known for his historical and nautical accuracy, wrote about twenty of these Aubrey/Maturin novels apparently. I can see them as fine reading for those who really love the time period or reading about naval battles, but while the battles were thrilling enough, the story at times moved at the pace of an over-laden frigate with a weak breeze.

    Jack Aubrey is a captain without a ship until he is given command of a sloop (a very small, low-end warship) and assigned escort duty. Unfortunately, the former captain, who got an upgrade to a better ship, took most of his crew with him. One of the first things we learn about the Royal Navy in the 19th century is that captains were often responsible for outfitting and crewing their ships with little financial support from the crown. In need of a ship's surgeon, among other things, Aubrey is lucky enough to encounter a physician in need of a job, a half-Irish Natural Philosopher named Stephen Maturin. Initially, Maturin's primary purpose is to have everything aboard ship explained to him, allowing O'Brian to dump exposition on the reader. However, Maturin has some secrets, one of them being that he was involved in an Irish uprising that went badly (as most Irish uprisings did). Despite this, he and Aubrey soon become good friends - surprisingly quickly, in fact.

    The rest of the book is mostly a realistic depiction of life aboard a warship, long weeks of tedious routine interrupted by occasional bloody action. The officers and the common seamen are a rough lot, and this is the era of rum and floggings. Aubrey, as befits a protagonist at the beginning of his own series, pulls off a spectacular victory against a much larger Spanish ship with several times the guns and crew of the Sophie, but promptly gets screwed over by a spiteful superior officer and is thus robbed of his rightful glory. He's then captured by a French admiral after another overwhelmingly one-side battle, but he and his crew are paroled back to Gibraltar, where he faces a court martial for losing his ship.

    The historical details are great and Aubrey's naval encounters are described with plenty of action mixed with sea terms. He has narrow escapes, narrow victories, wins and losses, and we get to know him and his crew over the course of the book. However, the only characters who are memorable are Aubrey, Maturin, and an important secondary character, who dies in the final battle. They're also all rather same-ish. While the developing friendship between Aubrey and Maturin is rendered in many humorous and heartwarming scenes, Master and Commander is otherwise not a particularly character-driven novel, and the story serves only to introduce us to Commander Aubrey and his ship.

    So, if this is the kind of book you like, this is the kind of book you will like. I would not say I absolutely wouldn't read any more of these, but book one wasn't enough to hook me on the series.

    Patrick Tull's reading of the novel was fine, with the right accents and vocal expressiveness for all the characters, but I found his frequent swallowing and licking his lips to be slightly distracting.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Lakeville, MN, United States 02-06-11
    Mary Lakeville, MN, United States 02-06-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    70
    6
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    0
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    Overall
    "Too much detail..."

    I was very excited to start the Master and Commander series. These books seemed right up our alley. But the story was so bogged down in nautical detail, numbers and measurements that my mind kept wandering far away. Historical fiction is our favorite genre but this is just too, too much "historical details" and not enough story. We kept hoping that the set-up would pass and the story would get rolling but half way through we ran out of patience and attention span. Sad.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.R. Marietta, GA, USA 03-16-09
    J.R. Marietta, GA, USA 03-16-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Stopped half way (narrator issues)"

    With a two audio book a month habit, this is the first one I've had to put down. The fact that it "reads" more like a nautical dictionary than an adventure story, along with every character sounding nearly identical, made it very hard to follow what was going on... especially in traffic. This is also the first book where the narrator's breathing, swallowing, and other general mouth noises distracted from the story for me. The story itself had promise though, and I'll probably try again at some point with the other narrator.

    4 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RedLfnt 05-29-07
    RedLfnt 05-29-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Boring zzzz"

    Based on the description of this book, I was excited about listening to descriptions of the Man of War ships and the battles that took place. However, the descriptions turned into seemingly endless conversations between a "landlubber" and various crew members that I kept tuning out after about 5 minutes. I think it was the style of writing and the narration. Maybe today's vernacular is too ingrained in me, but I just could not bear the combination of the narrator's British accent and the language from that period. I didn't do very well in English Lit in college and I would have failed a test on this book. This is the only book I have ever purchased (audio or written) that I didn't finish. I didn't even make it to the second part of the download and had to force myself to listen to the first 6 hours, thinking it would get better.

    I haven't seen the movie of the same name, but I can only hope that it was a VERY loose adaptation of this novel.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Floyd 08-10-06
    David Floyd 08-10-06 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    371
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Entertaining Story, Hard to Follow"

    Despite only understanding 80% of what was said I still enjoyed the story. It is very easy to get lost in the Old English Dialect and sailor speak but if you can hang in there the story it self is quite entertaining. The character development is some of the best I've seen. All in all a fun book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Plainwell, MI, USA 04-23-05
    Phil Plainwell, MI, USA 04-23-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "A great read! (err, Ahh Listen I Mean)"

    I thought this was a great book. I read/listened to it after having seen the movie by the same name, although the similaritys are few. If you have seen the movie, it will not ruin the book for you. I started listening to the wrong portion of this book, and it was teribly confusing. I thought to myself, this author is rotten, there is no background on any of the characters, I have no idea why they are doing the things they are doing, or who is who. When I realized I had started int he middle of the book, and changed sections to listen to the first section I was much happier. (I was not quite used to listening on my new palm yet, much different than the MuVo better I would say.) At any rate, I was very pleased to find that there is a whole series of books about these characters. I intend to read/listen to all of them.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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