Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1986 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"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)
I love the entire series as books. I didn't really get how wonderful audiobooks can be, though, until I heard these readings by Patrick Tull. They are superb -- the variety of voices and accents -- and he captures Jack Aubrey and especially Stephen Maturin to perfection. If you love the series, do yourself a favor and get the version read by Patrick Tull. I tried the Simon Vance version, and in my opinion it doesn't compare.
Just when you thought you’d had enough of this series, around the time the man hating tattooed Polynesian gals who sailed the sea looking to deprive men of their manhood with obsidian knives showed up in The Far Side of the World, and you were positively starved for some heroic naval action, you probably gave a heavy sigh when you read the description of this book. You have also probably read of Thomas Cochrane’s career – the actual Royal Navy Captain who inspired O’Brian’s Jack - and were wincing, knowing what was coming.
Buy this book. Read it, listen to it, find some way to insert it into your brain by any manner you prefer. Despite the pain, the anguish, and the infuriating forces aligned against Aubrey, this book has the most moving scene of the series. As one O’Brian reviewer once put it, “I will not say I cried, but I will not say I did not.”
This book follows the rest of the series in it's general make up and story line, and for the first time i felt a wee bit of boredom creep into my listening. UNTIL the last 3 hours! Masterful story telling that literally brought me to tears. Stick with this one it has an electric ending that made me instantly buy the next one.
In fact, the doctor saves the whole book.
The first half of the book is dreadful. I would guess that, collectively, nearly an hour is spent on "our story thus far." There's goings on between Jack and his father, along with Stephen and his intelligence people. I just couldn't get interested, and in fact, set the story aside on two occasions.
Then, near the end of the first part, it gets going, and keeps going. In perhaps the most moving chapter of the entire series, Jack finds out who is friends really are. Outstanding.
Patrick O'Brian has created a world of people that have drawn me in and become of personal concern. I suffer with the characters in their trials and revel in their successes. The books just get better and better. Patrick Tull brings the book to life as always.
This book is the start of a great story arc of the series that master author O'Brian has gifted to us and that master reader Tull has illustrated so beautifully.
"Reverse of the Medal" is part of the larger Aubrey/Maturin mosaic and is therefore enriched by the previous (and subsequent) volumes.
You'll find a test at the end of Chapter 9 (spoiler alert) when Jack Aubrey is led to the pillory for the crime he did not commit. A voice pierces the silence when the last bolt is thrown - I always imagine it to be Bonden or Pullings - and cries out, "Off hats."
That scene has always been difficult for me to read without pause. What a reaction O'Brian has sculpted! Hundreds of Royal Navy sailors, the honor guard of Captian Jack Aubrey of the Navy, erupting in a full-throated battle cheer; the kind of sound that warmed the heart of mariners and chilled the spine of adversaries. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the cloister where the conspirators stood overlooking the scene like a parcel of would-be Olympiads.
The series is a magnificent blending of two masterful talents.
I really enjoy the naval action, so I was a little concerned about the lack of "sea time" in this installment. But the intrigue drew me in and I've already downloaded The next in the series. Wonderfully entertaining!
I enjoyed the first O'Brian book narrated by Patrick Tull, but in this one his narration is over the top--very hammy with odd pauses. It's distracting.
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