Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1984 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have listened to over 250 books in the last 10 years. I tend to listen to certain authors and try to read all their books. I listen while exercising and driving which makes the time past enjoyable.
This is the first book of the series that I have read and I was very dissappointed. I listen to 2 books per month for the last couple of years and this is the most difficult and "boring" to get through. First the story moves very slowly without an overt plot. Second you need to know alot about the naval terms and condition of the time to understand a good portion of the story. Probably , if you read the book it is easier to understand. I have not seen the movie, but in its previews it picture alot more action than this audiobook invisions to the reader.
One of the few Audible selections not completed. Found myself dozing as I drove listening to this long-winded, disconnected tale. Not a movie buff, but must suspect the movie had to do better to be so popular.
I couldn't finish this book. The constant smacking, mouth sounds from the reader drove me crazy! The story was boring and full of nautical jargon that meant nothing to a landlubber. Maybe I could have gotten into it if it weren't for the reader, I'll never know and I'll never go back and finish this book.
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