This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, Royal Navy, and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the road of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
"Choice of Narrators"
The Peace of Amiens has left Jack Aubrey with no ship, no enemy to pursue, and no possibility of prize money to supplement his meager income. His decision to seek refuge from his troubles, and creditors, in France proves doubly disastrous.
"A fair shake"
At the opening of his third novel in an ongoing adventure series by Patrick O'Brian, Jack Aubrey is cruising off Cape Sicie when his friend Stephen Maturin (more serenely situated in Sussex) is informed of the Board's decision regarding Aubrey's prize money, taken after victorious engagement with a Spanish squadron at Cape Santa Maria. The money, five million pieces of eight, is not, as is the custom of war, to be divided among the crews of the four victorious vessels.
"India as thorough as Conrad"
Jack's prize money has set the household accounts aright, but if he continues frittering it on naive extravagances, it will be gone in a fortnight. Fortunately he gets a commission aboard the Leopard, bound for Australia to rescue the hated and captive Captain Bligh.
"Most moving chase sequence in the whole series"
The H.M.S. Leopard pulled into the bay of Pulo Batang looking more like a shabby merchant ship that a man-of-war. The crew had endured a calamitous voyage plagued by gaol-fever, pursued by the Dutch Waakzaamheid, and struck by an iceberg. Suffice it to say, Jack Aubrey was ready for home.
"Alternative Entry Point"
Jack Aubrey, Post Captain in the British Royal Navy, is suffused with happiness. The Shannon's engagement with the U.S. Chesapeake off the New England coast has resulted in victory, just another in a long string of them for Aubrey, nicknamed Lucky Jack for his tendency to win big. But Jack is less sure-footed by land than by sea.
Lucky Jack Aubrey escapes the burdens of domesticity when he is appointed to the post of Admiral for an expedition to the coast of Madagascar where French frigates are threatening one of England's valued trade routes.
"Twists Turns and A Great Story"
With his swashbuckling adventures, best-selling novelist Patrick O'Brian transports you to the high seas of old, where privateers lurk in the mist, and great ships fight to control the waterways. Blue at the Mizzen hoists the excitement to new heights as British frigate commander Jack Aubrey stakes everything on a desperate raid against the mighty Spanish fleet. Ever since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, Captain Aubrey's prospects in the new peacetime navy have looked dim.
"How can this be the end?"
Jack Aubrey is back in London after a successful mission. On the advice of an acquaintance he uses the time to invest some of his prize money. However when the investments link him to London's powerful criminal element and land him in jail it looks as if he has lost his post captaincy and the H.M.S. Surprise. It is once again up to ship's surgeon and covert agent Stephen Maturin to rescue his hapless friend.
"Patrick Tull is a master"
After a dangerous tour of duty in the Great South Sea, Jack and Stephen finally return to their families in England. For Jack, the return is joyful, but for Stephen, it is heartbreaking. His wife, Diana, has left for parts unknown; his young daughter has all the symptoms of autism. To escape these painful circumstances, Stephen joins Jack on a bizarre decoy mission to the lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea.
When last seen, Jack and Stephen had been shipwrecked on a desert island in the glittering South China Sea. The Nutmeg of Consolation opens as the castaways fashion a makeshift vessel from the wreckage, only to have it destroyed in a fiery attack by Malay pirates. Only the wondrous ingenuity of Stephen, along with the unexpected appearance of one of Jack's oldest allies, leads them to escape, and to dubious safety in a penal colony at New South Wales.
Shoved into a temporary command in "that rotten old Worcester," Aubrey is off to the Mediterranean to join the Royal Navy's blockade of the French port of Toulon, where he will be dispatched by Admiral Harte (unfortunately the same Admiral Harte he cuckolded years ago) on a secret mission that promises to embroil Aubrey in political conflict. His friend Stephen's help notwithstanding, Aubrey faces some of the choppiest waters of his career.
"The Ionian Mission"
While surviving life-threatening adventures at sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin find life on land to be even more perilous. Aubrey has dimmed his prospects of an admiralty by his erratic voting in Parliament. He is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, when his mother-in-law ferrets out a trove of old personal letters. Fortunately, Maturin brings news that the Chileans need the two seafaring friends to train their navy.
"It's an Addiction"
The espionage activities of cunning ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin have kept him at odds with the most important French agent in the Mediterranean, Lesueur, a man with a long memory and a taste for revenge. When that revenge takes the shape of the delicate and distracting Mrs. Fielding, who also attracts the ever-wandering eye of Jack Aubrey, Stephen's sensibilities are severely tested.
"Every book gets better"
In The Letter of Marque, Jack is once again aboard his beloved Surprise but stripped of his post captaincy for a crime he did not commit. Bought by Stephen, the Surprise has become a privateer. Sailing into French waters, the two concoct a desperate mission which, if successful, may redeem Aubrey from his state of disgrace.
Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin set sail aboard the Diane for the South China Sea, shepherding a diplomatic mission to prevent links between Bonaparte and the Malay princes. If their mission fails, English merchant shipping in the area will be threatened. At the barbaric court of Pulo Prabang, the stage is set for a duel of intelligence agents, pitting the savage cunning of Stephen Maturin against the French envoys, who are already entrenched in the Sultan's favor.
"Perhaps the best one I've heard"
The South Seas are a paradise for battle-weary Captain Jack Aubrey and ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin. But their peace is disturbed when Stephen's fancy for a peculiar marine organism lands him overboard. Acting in his usual headstrong fashion, Jack dives into the rescue, unfortunately failing to plan what will happen once they are both in the water watching the sails of the Surprise disappear in the mist.
"The Far side of the World"
Patrick O'Brian transports you to the high seas of the Napoleonic era when the French demagogue is making a desperate attempt to control the European world. While Napoleon pursues the British across Europe, rumors fly about him forging a secret link with the forces of Islam. Soon an ominous horde of Muslim mercenaries gather.
"Good Sailing Story"
At the outset of this adventure, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin pursue a heavy American privateer through the Great South Sea. Their ship, the Surprise, is now also a privateer, the better to escape diplomatic complications from Stephen's mission, which is to ignite the revolutionary tinder of South America.
"Patrick Tull is the only narrator to choose"
Best-selling author Patrick O'Brian turns to Commodore Anson's famous 1740 voyage for this rich tale of exploration and adventure. In The Unknown Shore, the inspiration for and immediate precursor to the acclaimed and immensely popular Aubrey/Maturin series, O'Brian's splendid prose and enthralling attention to detail launches listeners, spellbound, into the Age of Discovery.
"As Good as the Series"