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Master and Commander Audiobook

Master and Commander: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 1

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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

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  •  
    John 06-18-12
    John 06-18-12 Member Since 2016

    St. Louis, Missouri

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Superb Reader for a Superb Book"

    I won't waste your time trying to convince you that Patrick O'Brian was a great writer. That he portrays the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars in all its glory, heroism, absurdity and pettiness. Or that to spend a few hours between the pages of any one of his books is like spending the same time above and below decks, becalmed, chasing, being chased, ashore on half pay or perched in the maintop.

    Rather, it's the reader, Patrick Tull, who brings a whole new layer to the O'Brian experience. His pacing, his diction, his characterizations, everything is simply right. He gets it and it shows. I've listened to many of Tull's O'Brian recordings and none of them slip from the high mark he sets for himself with this first effort.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Oxford, CT, United States 01-31-12
    Jeffrey Oxford, CT, United States 01-31-12 Member Since 2012
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    "This series is why I joined Audible"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Master and Commander to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely. In fact, I have never actually READ the Aubrey/Maturin series, but I have listened to it three times. I joined Audible.com because they had the series as read by Patrick Tull. He does such an incredible job bringing the books and the characters to life! If you watch the movie, you can almost tell that Russell Crowe had to have listened to the Patrick Tull performance because his delivery of Jack Aubrey is very similar to that of Tull's. This is, without a doubt, my favorite book series of all time and I'm thankful Audible had them.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Stephen Maturin. He is always unflappable and his sense of humor is insanely dry. It is great to watch his character develop over the series and, even though he has been at sea for many years, nothing nautical ever seems to stick and he continues to need to be hauled into the Surprize like a sack of wheat. His relationship with Diana Villers is one of the great on-again, off-again romances ever.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The taking of the Cacafuego by the Sophie. Patrick Tull truly brings the battle to life.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    There already is a film, but I would have to say:


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to Master and Commander. If you don't fall in love with the series immediately, then you should stick to reading non-fiction.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 01-14-08
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 01-14-08 Member Since 2007
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    "What I wanted in the movie!"

    Very entertaining and satisfying in ways that I wish the movie could have been. Reading this book, I can see why someone WANTED to make the movie, but in translation, they gutted much of what made the book interesting!

    The quality of the author's research shines through, unobtrusively, and makes you feel as though you're on the quarterdeck living in another time. Loved it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    India J Brooklyn, NY, USA 09-29-09
    India J Brooklyn, NY, USA 09-29-09 Member Since 2014
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    "The gold standard of audiobooks, for me"

    Over a period of five years I have listened to most of this series, as read by Patrick Tull, at least twice, and in my opinion he is the perfect narrator. I have tried listening to other versions a few times, for a different perspective, but they just sound so impersonal, by contrast; so distant.

    In Tull's versions, I can nearly always tell which character is speaking, before there is any "so-and-so said" tag, and he is (was) one of the few male narrators I've heard who can represent female characters without making me wince. He reads respectfully, making every character sound believable, regardless of sex, age, class, region, or nation. His modulation and rhythm add interest even to unintelligible lists of nautical terms.

    I have recommended these recordings to dozens of people, and I have heard my recommendation seconded by others many times. Of course, since what sort of voice one likes to listen to is so personal (for instance, I can't bear Frederick Davidson, one of the most popular readers in the industry), you should listen to the samples of all this series's readers and download what you think will please you best. The books are wonderful, and I trust you will enjoy them regardless of who is reading. But after listening to the samples, and especially after listening to an entire book in the series, I think you will agree with me not only that these are the best set of Aubrey/Maturin recordings, but also that they are among the best audiobook recordings ever made, period.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 07-11-09
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 07-11-09 Member Since 2009
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    "I love this book!"

    I love this book because the story is gripping and funny and wonderful. I have fallen madly in love with Captain A, why can't he be real! It made me want to be a pirate on the high seas! Plus, Patrick Tull is just fantastic. To me, the narrator can make or break the listening experience, he is outstanding. The notion that a combination of formality, gravity and cheerfulness should characterize all discourse in life has changed me forever! Three cheers for this book!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Birdsell 01-12-05
    E. Birdsell 01-12-05 Member Since 2011
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    "Didn't know old navy stories could be interesting"

    I've thoroughly enjoyed working my way through this series (I'm on book 10 so far). Each book has been truly enjoyable. I generally grab the next book every couple of months and it's always been a joy to return to the lives of the characters. Tull's reading is excellent and, as other reviews have mentioned, always seems to hit just the right emotional tone. I always use this series as a treat after I've had to endure a particularly bad book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Anaheim Hills, CA, USA 03-13-04
    Sean Anaheim Hills, CA, USA 03-13-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Audiobook makes it live"

    I tried to slog through the written version of this book, but the new terminology (I am not a naval man) combined with the early 19th century style of prose made it a difficult read, and I ended up not finishing it.

    However, Patrick Tull's reading brings it to life like no other audiobook I've heard. The tale moves along, and the characters live! I've since purchased the next two audiobooks in the series, and will purchase the rest IF they come out in the unabridged version.

    4 of 5 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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    "My O'Brian sails are set. The rigging is tight."

    “Patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.”
    ― Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander

    Over the years I've collected O'Brian's paperback novels at used book stores, sale racks, goodwills, etc., one or two at a time. I almost have a complete paperback set (I also recently broke down and bought a four volume complete set), but didn't yet feel quite ready to attack. I needed a push or a promoting. Last year I finished the The Diary of Samuel Pepys - Complete and with Pepys constant work with the English Navy I was suddenly very interested. After reading a couple other books that spanned the same 'general' period of English naval history, I felt it was time I jumped in.

    I knew it was going to be good. I have a friend who is a writer and has written dozens of New York Times bestsellers (he is a ghost writer so few are penned directly under his name) and he also encouraged me to jump into these books. I saw the Russell Crowe movie (which drew on many of O'Brian's books, but primarily on The Far Side of the World, Desolation Island, and Master and Commander). I think all of these things pushed me towards the series, but the one big pull. The drag. The thing that kept these books at a distance was the fear of the void. I knew that I would adore them from the get go, and once I started there is a certain amount of self-awareness I possess to know that I wasn't going to be able to just nibble at these books. Hell, there are twenty different books in the Master and Commander: 20 Volume Set.

    There are many things to love about this book. The characters are amazing (especially Captain Jack Aubrey, Dr. Stephen Maturin, and First Lieutenant James Dillon). This would be a good book if O'Brian just told a good sea yarn, but that is just one piece. His details about the period and ships are amazing. His nuanced and smooth look at power, nationalism, war, men, psychology, science, etc. propels this book into the top ranks of historical novels. Again, I'm only one book deep into this series, but I must admit now that I'm finished with Master & Commander, it was like I imagined and like I feared. So, my sails are set, the rigging is tight. 19 more books to go I guess, and I might just do it before the end of the year.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret 07-01-14
    Margaret 07-01-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Splendid. And accept NO SUBSTITUTIONS for Tull!"

    The Aubrey/Maturin novels, as a body of work, are the greatest novels in the English language.

    This, the first in the 20-book series, is very good. We meet Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, before they have money, at the beginning of their careers, with uncertain prospects, learning about each other. We are introduced to most of the man-of-war's men that we will come to know over many books - Pullings, Mowatt, Babbington, Bonden, Killick. We find out Jack's a lady's man and that both Jack and Stephen love music.

    This novel has a greater emphasis on the wartime operations of the royal navy and battles at sea than the rest of the novels, which is to be expected as Jack and Stephen are only getting started.

    The books are even better when consumed audibly - but ONLY the versions narrated by Patrick Tull - accept no substitutions for the magnificent Tull. Tull is MAGNIFICENT.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Derby, VT, United States 01-20-14
    David Derby, VT, United States 01-20-14
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    "Greatest Narrator of the Greatest Series of books"

    I own the entire series of books as well - actually my father owns them and that is just as good! But I have not touched any of the books since I first heard the voice of Patrick Tull.

    Listening to Patrick Tull read these incredible books adds such a depth. It is hard to explain the sheer joy.

    If I could only have 10 possessions on that proverbial desert island an unlimited supply of batteries and an audio player with all 20 Patrick O'Brian books narrated by the incomparable Patrick Tull would be at the top of my list.

    Even if you have read Master and Commander 10 times you have not really experienced it until you have listened to Patrick Tull's narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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