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Publisher's Summary

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.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1986 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

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 05-20-17

When virtue spooms before a prosperous gale

"When virtue spooms before a prosperous gale
My heaving wishes help to fill the sail"
- John Dryden, The Hind And The Panther

There is a fairly exciting cat and mouse chase in this book, but for the most part 'The Reverse of the Medal' involves another Captain Jack Aubrey financial mistake. In what I'll only describe as a mix between a classic economic espionage novel ala John le Carré and David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner, Jack Aubrey loses about everything. At the same time, Dr. Maturin is trying to take care of his friend financially by procuring the Surprise at a Navy auction all while dealing with the absence of his mercurial wife.

Without divulging too much of the plot, let me just say that one of the final chapters of this novel actually made me cry. It wasn't sad, per se, but the tears that swell up when you witness men doing manly things to help other men. Anyway, it was beautiful and touching and worth the time.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Most Moving

Just when you thought you’d had enough of this series, around the time the man hating tattooed Polynesian gals who sailed the sea looking to deprive men of their manhood with obsidian knives showed up in The Far Side of the World, and you were positively starved for some heroic naval action, you probably gave a heavy sigh when you read the description of this book. You have also probably read of Thomas Cochrane’s career – the actual Royal Navy Captain who inspired O’Brian’s Jack - and were wincing, knowing what was coming.

Buy this book. Read it, listen to it, find some way to insert it into your brain by any manner you prefer. Despite the pain, the anguish, and the infuriating forces aligned against Aubrey, this book has the most moving scene of the series. As one O’Brian reviewer once put it, “I will not say I cried, but I will not say I did not.”

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The doctor saves more than just Jack

In fact, the doctor saves the whole book.
The first half of the book is dreadful. I would guess that, collectively, nearly an hour is spent on "our story thus far." There's goings on between Jack and his father, along with Stephen and his intelligence people. I just couldn't get interested, and in fact, set the story aside on two occasions.
Then, near the end of the first part, it gets going, and keeps going. In perhaps the most moving chapter of the entire series, Jack finds out who is friends really are. Outstanding.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Patrick Tull is a master

I love the entire series as books. I didn't really get how wonderful audiobooks can be, though, until I heard these readings by Patrick Tull. They are superb -- the variety of voices and accents -- and he captures Jack Aubrey and especially Stephen Maturin to perfection. If you love the series, do yourself a favor and get the version read by Patrick Tull. I tried the Simon Vance version, and in my opinion it doesn't compare.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A strong entry

One of the better recent works in this series. The novel where maturin fully comes into his own, and possibly surpasses Aubrey as the most interesting character.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Aidan
  • Gilbert, AZ, USA
  • 01-17-06

a Close One

This book follows the rest of the series in it's general make up and story line, and for the first time i felt a wee bit of boredom creep into my listening. UNTIL the last 3 hours! Masterful story telling that literally brought me to tears. Stick with this one it has an electric ending that made me instantly buy the next one.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Not my favorite

This was my least favorite of the books in the A/M series to this point. It dealt mostly with problems on land, rather than adventures at sea. Its primary purpose seemed to be to connect the earlier stories with what is to come.

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Great book!

Great book, but once again it leaves you hanging. the moment the climax presents the book is over.

A note about the narration, there is a noticable change in tone from chapter 8 to chapter 9. (Audible chapters, not the book chapters). This change, a marked increase in bass and reverberation would be easily noticable to any listener and is downright annoying to an audiophile.

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Wow, what a cliff hanger.

I loved this one. Such a story and left on a cliff hanger. I can't wait to start the next book.

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A turning point, as the name implies

I think these books are meant for re-reading, but I do think it helps to have the perspective I read after finishing. That this is an inflection point, where Jack's and Stephen's lives are changed significantly. Enjoyed this one, even though not as much naval action.