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H.M.S. Surprise Audiobook

H.M.S. Surprise: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 3

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Publisher's Summary

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, but is to be treated as droits of the Crown of England. Five million pounds is, after all, five million pounds.

It will be a hard rub for Aubrey, who had counted on that money to clear his debts and make himself a suitable match, but no more hard than for Maturin who spends much of his free time at Mapes Court in the company of the lovely Sophia Williams, Aubrey's betrothed. How could Stephen deliver the news that would break Sophia's heart?

When Jack docks at Portsmouth, he is clapped in irons forthwith, and carried off to a sponging house for debtors. Jack knows a prisoner can rot in jail, so when Sir Joseph graciously offers him escape aboard the H.M.S. Surprise, bound for the East Indies, he makes for the only place where his unsteady virtue remains intact: the sea.

Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.

©1973 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"O'Brian knows his history and sailing, as is evident in the rich particulars....Stretching its genre but never escaping it, the novel will impress those who enjoy swashbucklers." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (1328 )
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  •  
    Todd 10-02-11
    Todd 10-02-11 Member Since 2011

    tpaddack

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "very enjoyable"

    I can't say how much I have enjoyed this book. O'Brien keeps the excitement going. There are peaks and troughs, fast paced action and slow times, but always entertaining. Anyone who has ever sailed in the trade winds, or even dreams about such a trip, will know that O'Brien captures it masterfully. I felt like I was back at sea and was nearly pulling my hair out to figure out how to get back out there!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ral Stockton, CA, USA 07-28-07
    Ral Stockton, CA, USA 07-28-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book!"

    Excellent. Great writing, great narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher 03-26-05
    Christopher 03-26-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "O'Brian-Aubry-Maturin-Tull - what a quartet!"

    Reading the O'Brian series is as good a time as I've had with any author, and better than most. And to hear Tull read them; why it does not get any better! Read them twice, listened to them 4 x!
    The movie - well, it was a fine movie in itself, but did not do justice to O'brian's series.
    HMS Surprise is my favourite, it has a bit of everything human, bittersweet and funny and dramatic and bright and black and tense and as relaxing as the breezes off the home of Testudo Aubreii.
    I felt a real pang when book 21 abruptly ended; my first thought was that I'd better start writing to finish it up! Presumptious? Yes, but what better compliment for an author than to have someone else want to continue the journey. I daresay it will be viewed as close to heresy, however.
    Read & listen to each & every one! Right now! I'm hooked well and good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Reynolds Springfield, IL United States 03-15-05
    Jack Reynolds Springfield, IL United States 03-15-05 Member Since 2013
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    "A Masterpiece"

    A truly wonderful story, populated with rich, characterizations and terrific background. I've listened to the first two in this series and in my estimation, this is the best. Great sea yarn along with some of the most interesting characters in fiction. I have heard that the quality of the stories drops off in the later books, but the first three will knock your socks off. HIGHLY and FIRMLY RECOMMENDED.

    Jack

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Tyler, TX, USA 01-25-05
    Paul Tyler, TX, USA 01-25-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "diana villers is easy"

    like all charming tarts, she's the source of many problems. the narration is excellent, as always. if you liked the first 2 books, you'll like this one, as others have noted. and, i finally caved in and looked up a diagram of the sails, and other parts of a ship so i would know what the heck they were always yelling about during a battle.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Hagood 12-23-03 Member Since 2012
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    "Better than Hornblower!"

    I have not listened to this book, but I have read the entire series. If you enjoyed the Hornblower books, you will love Aubry. The characters are excelent, the plots realistic and historicly accurate, and the whole series reaks ofthe sea. Master and Commander is one of the series, and I expect they all will eventually get the Hollywood treatment.

    17 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-16
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-16

    I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You have debauched my sloth"

    “Surely man in general is born to be oppressed or solitary, if he is to be fully human...”
    ― Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise

    So, I am now three books into the Aubrey/Maturin series and the books are only getting better. Master and Commander and Post Captain were 459 to 527 pages respectively, and I wouldn't fault a page. However, now it seems O'Brian has trimmed and edited these books down to the sub-400 page range and they seem to spirit along nicely.

    In its way, this beginning of this series reminds me a bit of the beginning of Alan Furst's Night Soldiers series. The first two are bulkier than the rest, but then the authors settle down and find their groove. Both Furst and O'Brian, by book three in their series, have worked out that they can write thousands of more pages with the setting, characters, and action they have in their heads and by book three they both have their pace.

    Major concern going forward: I think the relationship between Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin is amazing, and one of the graces of the English language. I'm not sure, however, how long my attention can be plucked by expansion of the duet to include Diana and Sophie. They will either kill me, thrill me, or bore me eventually. But how do I love these men and their affection for women, science, music, people, nature, etc. It really is a giant love note to that Napoleonic age. I'm also not sure how much of the nautical lingo will eventually seep into my brain. Perhaps, by the time I'm finishing up book 20, I will understand most of what is happening during a naval engagement. Like a teenager just finishing Spanish 1, I can understand bits and pieces. Just enough of this language is uncovered to make me dangerous and hesitant to even describe what just happened. But I am hooked.

    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TW Brown, Author, Editor, and Reviewer Estacada, Oregon 03-15-16 Member Since 2013

    Todd W. Brown

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow, and a change in the narration is not easy to"

    So far, this is my least favorite offering. The first two have me invested enough to continue, but this just seemed to plod. A bit heavy on Stephen's journal entries and ruminations. Yes, there are some interesting moments, but for a book with such a good beginning simply faded for me and the middle had me almost putting the book down for good and actually skipping on to book 4 in hopes that it is better. Let's hope that it is.

    Also, apparently Simon Vance's full length versions are gone. Switching to Mr. Tull is proving tedious for me. I will give it one more go, but I may abandon the series.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Eddy 05-13-17 Member Since 2015
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    "love this series"

    I love the series, well-written, great story, good characters, really takes you back in time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander 05-09-17
    Alexander 05-09-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Yet another wonderful book!"

    Awesome story and great reading. loved every minute. Full of excitement, wild life and riches

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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