Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1977 Patrick O'Brian; (P)1999 Random House, Inc.; Cover Illustration by Geoff Hunt
"Jack's assignment: to capture the Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius from the French. That campaign forms the narrative thread of this rollicking sea saga. But its substance is more beguiling still." (Newsweek)
Patrick O'Brian is often called The Greatest Author You Never Heard Of, and there are very good reasons for this, however lucky for you - you are after all reading this - you have the oportunity to learn about him and his masterpiece series of books that chronicle the lives of Jack Aubrey, an Officer in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Struggles, and Stephen Maturin, the bastard son of an Irish soldier and a Catalan Princess who became an Intelligence Agent to help save first Ireland then Catalonia from the veracious greed of Napoleon and his France. This is the 4th of a 20 book series - each of the books was written with their own subplots and vehicle, but are in fact chapters in one long book in the tradition of the Masters of Literature.
Jack Aubrey is a man's man, but is also filled with contradiction. He is often the victim of his own libido, and yet he is a true bear on the enemies deck, crossing swords or fighting his ship with a skill and style certainly all his own, but of course is in reality based upon a real-life officer of the Royal Navy who did indeed take a 32-Gun Frigate with a 12-gun sloop (unheard of). Stephen Maturin is deep in so many ways, and yet human in spite of his great mind and curious nature. It is hard to admire a characture who ends up addicted to various substances (opium, cocaine, bahng, the list is large), yet at the same time you cannot help but feel compassion for the emotional pain that drives him to seek their comfort.
If you enjoy that feeling that comes upon you when reality is suddenly suspended and you are sucked into the world of the story, you will very much treasure this book, and the ones that came before it and follow it. I cannot begin to praise it enough, or explain to you in 2000 characters why it is so good, so I won't try; I will simply say it is THAT Good.
You do not need to read the others to understand and appreciate each book, so dig in. Enjoy!
Simply put: O'Brian is the best historical novelist ever, and Tim Piggot-Smith is the best reader of his work. I couldn't care less about the sea -- but O'Brian's description of it grips me. His characters pulse and live, and his descriptions of their lives and times make you an eager participant. Funny, vivid, and immensely moving. If Jane Austen had decided to write Napoleonic-era sea stories, she'd have chosen Patrick O'Brian as a nom de plume.
The reader is pitifully mis-cast with such a bland and plummy voice so inappropriate to the material. It's like Johnny Mathis singing Muddy Waters. Perfectly intelligible, but completely wrong. Just listen to one of the volumes narrated by Patrick Tull who is BRILLIANT, astonishing! with such well defined, different voices and accents for the main characters, and such address and verve. You can smell the salt-sea air and *see* the action and understand the jist of the all the amazing nautical palaver guided by his dead-to-rights interpretation.
An excellent book very well read by Derek Piggott-Smith who very ably produces very credible characters, so much so its possible to believe that several actors are involved in reading it.
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