The return journey aboard La Fleche proves delightful for both Aubrey and his particular friend. Stephen Maturin, with high winds and beautiful skies. It is when La Fleche nears the coast of Brazil that tragedy strikes. Accidental fire ravages the ship, forcing the crew into lifeboats. Rescued eventually by the Java, Aubrey and Maturin meet with yet another deterrent to their journey home when the Java engages the U.S.S. Constitution in battle, and loses. Aubrey, now a POW in Boston, waits for word of a prisoner exchange, while Maturin renews his friendship with the raven-haired expatriate, Diana Villiers.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1979 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.
"The Fortune of War is a marvelously full-flavored, engrossing book, which towers over its current rivals in the genre like a three-decker over a ship's longboat." (Times Literary Supplement)
M A Stoever
This is the most interesting of the first six books in the series for American readers, and as such provides an alternative to starting the series at the beginning (with "Master and Commander"). The author alludes to many of the significant events in the preceding novels and also presents the most important characters, allowing the reader approaching this excellent series for the first time to slip in effortlessly. The principal theme of these books, the friendship between the extrovert Aubrey and the introvert Maturin, is primarily responsible for the poignancy of the tales and is evident throughout "The Fortune of War".
I was pleased how he was able to work in a significant amount of naval warfare and strategy into what ultimately is a spy/escape story. There are some wonderful moments: one with Jack mistaking another character's identity because of a common name, considerable development of Steven as a spy including a tremendous chase sequence that remains clearly in my mind to this day, and a satsifying and thunderous ending. Knowing that if you enjoyed this you can follow the characters on further (and previous) adventures is really a plus.
This is a great read. It was a lot of fun. The real "plus" on top of the excitement goes to those who are interested in the history of naval warfare and also of early British/American relations.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"A noble spread of sails, upon my word"
- Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War
There is a danger in writing a review of these books too soon after finishing them. If it is possible to describe my reception of a book of literature as somehow the equivalent of love, these books by O'Brian would certainly be a top contender for one of the great literature loves of my life. No. This isn't Shakespeare, but often even Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare. But these books are something. They are beyond prose and art. There is a lift that I get from them that is hard to translate adequately. All I have to do is look at the edge of one of these books after I've finished it, and I've absolutely abused it with sticky notes and post-it tabs. There are just so many fine turns of phrase, observations, and witticisms that I don't want to lose. The edge becomes as layered as Caesar's hair.
As always, I love O'Brian's attention to Aubrey and Maturin's friendship and how he further explores the two very distinct aspects of manliness and honor, war and intelligence, love and loyalty. Captain Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin present very two idealized, but also very human, studies. Much like Johnson's pictures of birds, presented to Dr. Maturin "gives us not the bird, for no bird ever had this brilliant clarity in every member, but the Platonic idea of the bird, the visible archetype of the turkey-buzzard", these character studies of these two binary, nautical protagonists gives the reader not just men, but the archetype of men. It is done with grace, beauty, humor, and at moments - perfection.
One of the other parts of this particular book I adored was its focus on the American Navy during the War of 1812, specifically around Boston and Nantucket. I spent a day in Nantucket this last summer and also spent an afternoon snooping around the USS Constitution. I loved reading O'Brian describe the coast around Boston, the town of Boston, the USS Constitution, and finally the battle between the HMS Shannon and the USS Chesapeake on 1 June 1813.
Another chapter in the Aubriad as it's referred to and a lot of rare land based action. in most of the other books in the series the real gut clenching, white eyelid (as opposed to white knuckle) sections take place off the sea. Tulls American accent is exactly what you would expect from a world class narrator not perfect but intentionally so, he does it right and the nuances ring clear. A wonderful meeting of fine literature and fine acting.
This is not only a great adventure story; it is also an amazing character study. The narrator makes it come alive. Bravo.
I've read or listened to the entire series at least a dozen times, and it continues to entertain and excite. "The Fortune of War" shows both Jack and Stephen at their primes, the excitement of battle, and O'Brian's sense of humor with the lesser of two weevils and Mr. Evans' facetious explanation of the 'Iroquois "katno aiss' vizmi"'.
Patrick Tull's rendition of the book continues what is in my opinion the ideal interpretation of the characters' voices.
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