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Publisher's Summary

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.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1984 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • 2 Stars
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  • Samuel
  • Corona, US, Canada
  • 09-13-12

High Education on the High Seas

Would you consider the audio edition of Master and Commander to be better than the print version?

Silly question. the audio book is like a movie that doesn't cut our or modify content to suit the actors.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Master and Commander?

the descriptions of the battles are amazing.
if you listen closely your are getting educated on ship identification, use, maritime law and courtesy, rank structure, ship command economics and the political dealing of 18th century ship operations, military and commercial.
is it a brig or sloop? what is the difference between Master and Commander, Master and Captain? What does each sail do, how is it rigged and how do you judge the wind? You'll know more than your thought at the end of only the first book of the series.

What does Patrick Tull bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

as with any narrator, the tone of the reading adds to the emotions and suspense of the passages.

Who was the most memorable character of Master and Commander and why?

Aubrey and Maturin set up their relations ship that will last through the series. all charaters are well defined by their relationship with Capt. Aubrey.

Any additional comments?

No I know why my Garandpa loved building moddles of these great ships.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • George
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 09-10-12

Masterfully read with total Command of the accents

Would you listen to Master and Commander again? Why?

I'm a huge fan of O"Brian's work and have read the whole series several times. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of having this wonderful story read to me. Patrick Tull's narration included the singing of the occasional sea shanty, an added feature I was certainly not ever able to pull off when I read the book.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a very important book in the series as it shows the beginning of Maturin and Aubrey's friendship. The authentic descriptions of life at sea provide a wonderful setting for this, but these books at their core are about Aubrey and Maturin's relationship.

Which character – as performed by Patrick Tull – was your favorite?

Patrick Tull's Irish brogue brought Maturin alive!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent literature, 5 star narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Many times over. It is not a naval battle story, it is a tapestry of life told in serial form through the course of 20 books. Jack Aubrey is brilliant fighting naval officer, who is a fish out of water when on dry land, an impulsive male in the company of women. He meets his best friend in this book one, Steven Maturin, one of the most complex, manipulative, kind, and cultured men of literature. He is a skilled surgeon, lover of music, Irish/Catalonian bastard son, natural biologist, and superb spy determined to undermine Napoleon Bonaparte's destruction of Europe. At sea Maturin is Aubrey's only confidant, and sometimes they go head to head is raging arguments about their purpose and strategy. On land, they fight over the same women, wrestle with money and politics, and the manipulative Grand Damme, Mrs. Williams.

But that is not all that separates this series from all other historical fiction, the narration is done by Patrick Tull, who is an artist at the top of his trade. He can slow the text and issue soft spoken words regarding poetry, an excellent moon lit night, a "capital" wine, or a brooding lover's revelry. When engaged in a furious battle, or fighting to stay afloat in a raging Atlantic hurricane, his reading explodes into a fury to match the mortal danger of the action. And his reading drolly punctuates the ridiculous duplicity of British society, dryly conveys the author's subtle wit and timing.

A most engrossing series, covering 20 years around the Napoleonic Wars, and although it is told primarily from the British viewpoint, the Papist Dr. Maturin defends the Irish, the Pope, the French, and openly and readily mocks the British in their rapacious quest to dominate the seas, if not the World.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Master and Commander?

the part Aubrey's second in command played, serving 2 countries, England and Ireland and what wrenching that caused within the politics and purpose of the naval mission.

What about Patrick Tull’s performance did you like?

There is no other narrator who comes close to the range of emotions the man performs in his readings.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The battle scenes, the tortures of romance in such a caste society.

Any additional comments?

Just read it, if you miss a point, go back and play it again. sometimes the author goes on in great detail about something that could play an important part in the stories development. Other times he is just flexing his ability to relate texture and timing, most others deem superfluous.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

An Historical Novel For Men!!!

What made the experience of listening to Master and Commander the most enjoyable?

You would not think that a character driven historical novel would appeal to men, this one truly does. The narrator I listen to is Patrick Tull, he performs all 20 unabridged books in this series and is unbelievable.

It is hard for us living in the 21st century to conceive of life 20 years ago let alone 200 years ago. Where information did not travel at the speed of light rather the speed of the wind and sea.

The language and references to sex is definitely PG-13 with the F word used at least once per book. It is not used carelessly, just in the coarse of the story.

This book introduces us to the main characters of a 20 book series that takes us on journeys and missions around the world. These characters are real with their various personal flaws, i.e. The captain cannot manage his fortune, and the doctor whom moves from one addiction to another.

Which scene was your favorite?

After listening to the entire series I love the first pages of the first book. The near catastrophic meeting of the two characters and the friendship that ensues.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Great narration - unparalleled performance

Would you listen to Master and Commander again? Why?

I've read the book 7 times in the past 10-15 years. It is magnificent. I have listened to it read by at least three different narrators. Patrick Tull is the only one who does it justice. His performance is wonderful. His accents make a huge difference to the pleasure I get from listening to stories like this read.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Master and Commander?

It begins wonderfully - at the concert.

Which character – as performed by Patrick Tull – was your favorite?

Jack and Stephen are equally well portrayed.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

you couldn't do it, though I did drive almost non-stop from Palatine Illinois to Lookout Mountain Tennessee listening to Tull read another book in the series. I stopped for gas. I ate takeout so I could keep listening.

Any additional comments?

Why has anyone else recorded it - a waste of time and space.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jon
  • St. Petersburg, FL, United States
  • 02-08-12

Amazing!

Would you consider the audio edition of Master and Commander to be better than the print version?

Both are wonderful, but the audio version is a wonderful trip back to the time of square rigged ships and fighting sailors. Yes ... a takes a little while to get used to sailor's language, but the reward is a mesmerizing experience.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Master and Commander?

Page 1 to the end.

What does Patrick Tull bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mr. Tull is amazing. His story telling skills brings the book to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very enjoyable introduction to the series

This is superlative historical fiction. The only thing that would make it better for me is a glossary that addressed all the 18th century naval terms. Patrick Tull provide an excellent narration with phrasing and emotion that help make my morning & evening commutes something I look forward to just to listen to his voice. I plan to acquire future volumes to continue the story, and not just to survive my rush hour commuting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Grayson
  • Longmont, CO, United States
  • 02-11-11

About the Readers

Let's get this out of the way first: I love Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, and cannot recommend it highly enough. Everything I've heard merits 5 stars for quality of writing, characters, and historical immersion.

So as Audible fans will see, there are two readers who do the unabridged books: Patrick Tull (who narrated this one), and Simon Vance. I am familiar with Vance from other audio books and have never been disappointed. He is always sharp, clearly intelligible, and keeps his characters lively and distinct. I figured I would give Patrick Tull a try.

Here is how I would describe the experience of listening to Patrick Tull. Imagine you're sitting by a fire with an elderly British man. He's smoking a pipe, he's leaning back with his feet on a comfortable footrest, and reminiscing about the grand adventures of his youth. He's an engaging enough storyteller, passionate during the action scenes and good with accents, but he DOES take his own sweet time to get a sentence completed.

It's a very leisurely sort of delivery that Tull has. Look at the comparative running times between the Tull and Vance versions of the same books, and you'll see that the Tull versions are consistently an hour to two hours longer (for books that tend to run 9-12 hours). That should give you an idea of the different pace that these two readers use for the same material.

Myself? I prefer the Vance material. I like his crisper delivery and pacing, and think he does female characters much better. But you may like the idea of hearing these sorts of stories from a grandfatherly-type narrator--in that case, go with Tull and you won't be disappointed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Make note of your narrator

Patrick Tull and Simon Vance are both gifted narrators. However, when you start with one you may find it a jarring change when you start listening to the other. Each brings their own life to the characters, but it is a very different life. My own personal preference are the characters created by Mr. Tull, but Mr. Vance's acting is no less compelling, only different. If you care about such things, don't make the mistake that I made, buying the edition without first checking by whom it is narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Surprisingly enjoyable!

I bought this book on a whim. Audible was having a sale on the first books in various series. This is far from the type of fiction I normally read, but I decided I didn't have much to lose. I am so glad I gave it a shot! Some of the terminology went over my head, but that didn't bother me. The story line was so engaging, I had many "driveway moments". Patrick Tull did an excellent job narrating the book. Now on the the rest of the series. This is going to take a while!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful