Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1981 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
Over the years I've read the series from beginning to end twice and am listening my way through it this time. "The Ionian Mission" is not as dull or plodding as blockade duty in the Mediterranean might be, but I have never thought it offered much in the way of advancing pivotal story arcs that run through the entire series. It never seems to go anywhere (beyond blockade duty in the Med) and, in that respect, is probably an accurate reflection of the story’s setting.
I've enjoyed Simon Vance's narration of all of the books I've listened to thus far. He reads well, with just the right pace and dramatic flair. With books like the Aubrey/Maturin series, a narrator's ability to perform accents well contributes considerably to my overall enjoyment. Mess those up and, for me, the listening experience becomes irritating and annoying, and only becomes more so as the story progresses. To my opinion, Vance does a creditable job with the varied accents of the characters our protagonists encounter during their voyages. (I haven't listened to any of the O'Brian books narrated by Patrick Tull, so I'm not able to compare the two. As both versions are unabridged, I can only speculate that Tull's pacing may be slower. That might account for why his versions consistently run three to four hours longer than Simon Vance's.)
All in all, I recommend "The Ionian Mission", but don't think it's one of Patrick O’Brian’s best works. However, even with some shortcomings, I think it's worth four stars and that listening to it was time well spent.
One word on the entire series: Fantastic.
Another for Patrick Tull as narrator: Excellent.
I read all 20 of the original cannon straight through. What a loss to the world of literature.
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