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Publisher's Summary

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.

The return journey aboard La Fleche proves delightful for both Aubrey and his particular friend. Stephen Maturin, with high winds and beautiful skies. It is when La Fleche nears the coast of Brazil that tragedy strikes. Accidental fire ravages the ship, forcing the crew into lifeboats. Rescued eventually by the Java, Aubrey and Maturin meet with yet another deterrent to their journey home when the Java engages the U.S.S. Constitution in battle, and loses. Aubrey, now a POW in Boston, waits for word of a prisoner exchange, while Maturin renews his friendship with the raven-haired expatriate, Diana Villiers.

Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1979 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic Reviews

"The Fortune of War is a marvelously full-flavored, engrossing book, which towers over its current rivals in the genre like a three-decker over a ship's longboat." (Times Literary Supplement)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Alternative Entry Point

This is the most interesting of the first six books in the series for American readers, and as such provides an alternative to starting the series at the beginning (with "Master and Commander"). The author alludes to many of the significant events in the preceding novels and also presents the most important characters, allowing the reader approaching this excellent series for the first time to slip in effortlessly. The principal theme of these books, the friendship between the extrovert Aubrey and the introvert Maturin, is primarily responsible for the poignancy of the tales and is evident throughout "The Fortune of War".

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Naval spy games done well

I was pleased how he was able to work in a significant amount of naval warfare and strategy into what ultimately is a spy/escape story. There are some wonderful moments: one with Jack mistaking another character's identity because of a common name, considerable development of Steven as a spy including a tremendous chase sequence that remains clearly in my mind to this day, and a satsifying and thunderous ending. Knowing that if you enjoyed this you can follow the characters on further (and previous) adventures is really a plus.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nancy
  • Vancouver, WA, USA
  • 07-05-04

Entertaining & of Historical Interest

This is a great read. It was a lot of fun. The real "plus" on top of the excitement goes to those who are interested in the history of naval warfare and also of early British/American relations.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 02-17-17

A noble spread of sails, upon my word

"A noble spread of sails, upon my word"
- Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War

There is a danger in writing a review of these books too soon after finishing them. If it is possible to describe my reception of a book of literature as somehow the equivalent of love, these books by O'Brian would certainly be a top contender for one of the great literature loves of my life. No. This isn't Shakespeare, but often even Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare. But these books are something. They are beyond prose and art. There is a lift that I get from them that is hard to translate adequately. All I have to do is look at the edge of one of these books after I've finished it, and I've absolutely abused it with sticky notes and post-it tabs. There are just so many fine turns of phrase, observations, and witticisms that I don't want to lose. The edge becomes as layered as Caesar's hair.

As always, I love O'Brian's attention to Aubrey and Maturin's friendship and how he further explores the two very distinct aspects of manliness and honor, war and intelligence, love and loyalty. Captain Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin present very two idealized, but also very human, studies. Much like Johnson's pictures of birds, presented to Dr. Maturin "gives us not the bird, for no bird ever had this brilliant clarity in every member, but the Platonic idea of the bird, the visible archetype of the turkey-buzzard", these character studies of these two binary, nautical protagonists gives the reader not just men, but the archetype of men. It is done with grace, beauty, humor, and at moments - perfection.

One of the other parts of this particular book I adored was its focus on the American Navy during the War of 1812, specifically around Boston and Nantucket. I spent a day in Nantucket this last summer and also spent an afternoon snooping around the USS Constitution. I loved reading O'Brian describe the coast around Boston, the town of Boston, the USS Constitution, and finally the battle between the HMS Shannon and the USS Chesapeake on 1 June 1813.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 11-08-17

Started Oh So Long Ago

I started the sixth book Aubrey/Maturin Series oh so long ago. Over three months to be exact. Due to life, I took a hiatus from reading. I wasn't too sure that I wanted to read, "The Fortune of War" again or skip the book and read something else. I've forgotten where I left off. I'm glad that I started the book over because I'm enjoying this series very much.

I apologize for this review. It's very weak. I'm trying to get my reading and writing habits back.

Still rusty.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Another great book.

Absolutely mandatory follow up to Desolation Island, perhaps even more dramatic. Loved it and look forward to the next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful series

It is always fun to find a series that matches moments in real history and then have the joy of reading about that as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An epic story, nearly ruined by the narrator

The story is worth putting up with the poor reading and lack of different voices. I hope Simon Vance some day completes the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book.

Narrator isn't so great at an American accent, but overall a great book to enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Incredible

As with all the books in the series so far, simply unmatched story, narration, detail, a leisurely pace that keeps the listener perfectly engaged. You cannot wish for a better epic in the age of sail.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful