Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1972 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
"There are legions of us who gladly ship out time and time again under Captain Aubrey." (The New Yorker)
"Master and Commander raised almost dangerously high expectations; Post Captain triumphantly surpasses them." (Mary Renault)
I have to agree that it is a matter of preference between the two narrators. Based on the two other reviews, I listened to some samples of Patrick Tull reading Patrick O'Brian's books. To me, he sounded good, but not "right", probably because I had already listened to Master and Commander read by Simon Vance (Blackstone Audiobooks). If you haven't heard a whole book by either one, you might want to listen to several samples by both and see which one you prefer.
This is the Blackstone Audio version of the novel. I found that the Recorded Books version, also available here on audible.com, was the narrator I preferred. Both are good, it is simply a matter of taste.
First, the story; then the narration.
First off, this is a direct sequel to "Master and Commander" in the Aubrey-Maturin series, so you might want to start off with that book (although it is not essential).
This is a fun story with colorful characters set during the Napoleonic era. This story is a bit less nautical than the first one, since we spend a great deal of time with Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin's romantic difficulties as well as Capt. Aubrey's financial ones. We also learn that Stephen Maturin is now working as a spy for Britain. I should add that O'Brian wrote these books intentionally as a series, and thus there is no "denoument" or major resolution at the end of the book...it just stops, to be picked up with the next one.
Regarding the narration: there are two audiobook versions of this series extant; this one narrated by Simon Vance, the other narrated by Patrick Tull. Many reviewers have nailed their colours to the mast in support of one or the other, so I can not resist adding my tuppence-worth:
Simon Vance is a better reader than Patrick Tull, who is a better story-teller. Vance uses different voices for the multiple characters (making dialogues easier to follow) and his modulated British accent makes him easier to understand. Tull's lively reading, gravelly voice and (South England?) accent gave a very nautical flavor to the reading, but also made it harder on American ears to understand. Also, the quality of audio production changed a lot from the early 1990's (Tull) to mid 2000's (Vance). Personally, I prefer Tull's narration style, but I don't think there is any one answer.
If you enjoy every major and minor detail of the British navy circa 1800 then this book is for you. I prefer more plot and less wind description. The narrator is excellent and truely captures the period.
I read all of Patrick O'brian's high seas series. They were so captivating that I hated to reach the end. Another good series was Hyperion.
This, second book in Patrick O'Brian's series dovetails nicely with book 1, Master & Commander. More time is spent on land in this book, but there is plenty adventure, romance and intrigue to further the story line and to further develop the main characters (Jack & Steven)from book 1. The story comes alive, with humour, a vast knowledge of the historical period,politics, ships, and shipboard life. Anyone who likes historical novels should love this series, and this book. It is well narrated by Simon Vance. I would recommend reading book 1 first and to choose the unabridged books. Of note is that there is a choice of narrators and you might want to try out both (between book 1 & 2) to see which you prefer for listening to for books 3-20. (Steven Thorne narrates as well)
If you desire a high-energy action packed novel this is not it. Too slow a pace for my tastes. Admittedly there were some exciting although infrequent scenes. While the reader did an excellent job of bringing the various characters to life, I was frankly glad when it was over.
I was confused at first by the previous reviews and thought that I had downloaded the Tull narrated version because it was so good. The calm, demure timbre of Vance's voice and his accent lend well to the well-to-do society that Aubrey and Maturin hail from. I prefer his voice and inflection over Tull’s because I find it most genuine and perfect for the piece. Tull is a bit more gritty and I don't think it fits because these books are mostly drama with a little action and not altogether in the trenches--these books are not rooted in the trenches of warfare all the time and do not need a gruff narrative.
I became interested in 18th and 19th century ship stories due to the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forrester. The Master and Commander series was recommended to me by friends with similar tastes. The first book was excellent, but I did not care for Mr. Tull's narration style -- I found his lip smacking, water drinking, and tongue clicking to be very annoying. I kept wondering why they don't have a mute button during recording sessions. The noises were not as audible in the car, but when listening directly through my iPhone's speakers, I could hear every click, swish, and gulp.
Everything flip flopped with Post Captain. I find that I like Mr. Vance's narration style much better. He is, perhaps, not as flamboyant as Mr. Tull, but I don't have to listen to his various bodily functions. In light of the plodding and exceedingly dull story in Post Captain, I found Mr. Tull's more rapid reading pace to be a blessing.
As hinted at, I found the story to be EXTREMELY disappointing. If I had wanted to listen to a Harlequin Romance novel, I would have purchased one. After all the balls, fox hunts, and plodding descriptions of dresses, I began asking no one in particular, "given that this is supposed to be a book about a ship's capatain, is there a ship in our future?"
If you are looking for something like the Hornblower series, or even the first book in the Master and Commander series, and don't want to read a romance novel, give this book a pass. If you want to read a Pride and Prejudice type story with nautical metaphors tossed in, give it a listen. Personally, I will be reading the reviews of the rest of the Master and Commander series a little more closely to avoid any future disappointments.
I decided to give this narrator(Simon Vance) a try instead of Patrick Tull. Simon Vance reads far to fast, hardly stopping to breath between sentences.
This reading is 3 hours 42 minutes shorter than the Patrick Tull version.
Audible.com did me a favor and let me switch to the Patrick Tull version after two days of listening to this one.
Where Master and Commander was riveting at times, Post Captain slides to more of a soap opera ramble that often becomes very tedious. Had the first book in the Aubrey/Martin series been like this one, I wouldn't have bought the second.
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