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.
This is the eighth book in O'Brian's 20-volume Aubrey/Maturin series.
"Splendid adventures at a stately pace." (Kirkus)
Although this is the first of the series to hit the doldrums, it's saved by humor on several levels, and the ending.
For the audio version, Patrick Tull aids its salvation. After a slow start, Tull brings more and more dramatic presence into each successive novel. He truly hits his stride here.
Other pluses include a more thorough use of Steven's near incurable ignorance of naval matters as our window into that complex, jargon filled Age of Sail world.
Then again, if you have not already found yourself saying “Top Gallants and Royals, if you please,” to express the need for haste, and urging people to finish something before it's abaft - even if those phrases don't answer - then you probably have not made it this far.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
One more of POB's books that starts off slow, real slow, and stayed there. But it's about a blockade. The most boring mission you could hope not to get. It did pick up at the end. But we all know if you are reading this review, your going to get the book anyway. Just like me. I thought it was interesting to see how politics in the Near East hasn't changed much.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This story was less dramatic than the prior books. Mostly they were on blockade which I gather from the book is boring for the crew. I did enjoy all the extra information O'Brian provided about the ships, sailing and the Royal Navy in the early 1800's late 1790s. Patrick Tull did an fantastic job narrating the story. Felt the ending was abrupt, wish there was more follow up of what happened after the battle. But maybe that comes in the next book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
"But he had not seen a more wicked and as it were spiteful sea, with its steep, close-packed waves -- a sea that threatened not the instant annihilation of the great antarctic monsters but a plucking apart, a worrying to death."
- Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission
Probably my least favorite in the series so far. It was destined to happen. Even the best instruments will see their strings get loose after a few weeks on the water. It is still lovely and has some amazing parts, but this is not the book I would hand someone to get them hooked on Aubrey/Maturin novels. That said, I loved the poetry contest, was glad to see the good captain and doctor playing again, found the Ottoman politics, and naval blockade strategy interesting.
In a previous review I talked about one of the things that allowed the novels to remain fresh was a change in setting. I still think this is one of the biggest components that allows O'Brian to write book after book about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars without being too repetitious. However, this book reminded me of another thing O'Brian does -- he changes ships quite often. It is like seeing Mozart play on different types of instruments. The song might not change that much, and it might be still a recognizable Mozart tune, but hearing different instruments keeps everything fairly fresh.
All that said, I would probably have given this a simple 3 stars, had the last bit, the final brutal act, not been so beautifully staged. Reading the last 40 pages of this novel was like watching the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. I'm not saying they are similar in brutality, only similar in resonance. You exit the action and wonder how anyone could craft something so sharp and hard. That is the dilemma I think in writing or filming war (even naval war) books and movies. So much of actual war is (to borrow a phrase that has almost become a cliché in describing modern war, piloting, etc.) "months of boredom punctuated by moments of extreme terror." THAT is the challenge for O'Brian with this book in particular. I think he was trying, in a literary fashion, to SHOW the reader that. 95 percent of the book was a naval blockade. It wasn't sexy. There was the weather, yes. But characters were almost dying from boredom. And. Then. Action!!!
11 of 16 people found this review helpful
Another great sea faring adventure ! O'brian captures the listener on the first page and never lets go til the last shot is fired. Patrick Tull as always brings the story to life like no other narrator can, he is the voice of Maturin and Aubrey.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
When it ends you will be asking for another chapter, and hoping the next book picks up where it leaves off...
For whatever reason this volume in the series lacks any sort excitement. NOTHING happens except a bunch of floating around. I found myself distracted and not listening due to inaction and an overabundance of unimportant detail. I still love the series overall but I'd skip this one. The reading is EXCELLENT however.
I love The Aubrey Maturin series. I have listened four times through and every time I pick up on nuances. The Ionian Mission has so many of my favorite details and anecdotes and I think it is my favorite book in the series
Each book in the series continues to be as absorbing as the last one. Well done!
This story was a little flat to me, but maybe that was the point, to feel the duty assigned to Jack?? Anyway if you are this far you're going to read it regardless.