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Publisher's Summary

Jack Aubrey, Post Captain in the British Royal Navy, is suffused with happiness. The Shannon's engagement with the U.S. Chesapeake off the New England coast has resulted in victory, just another in a long string of them for Aubrey, nicknamed Lucky Jack for his tendency to win big. But Jack is less sure-footed by land than by sea. Trying desperately to conceal from his wife Sophie the details of an untoward liaison with a lady claiming a baby, and wrestling with speculators who are trying to rob him of every farthing he ever pirated, Jack is making a poor show at civilized life.

Meanwhile, his best friend, surgeon and scientist Stephen Maturin, is enjoying unprecedented success. In possession of papers that would make Napoleon blanch, Stephen supplements his espionage activities by delivering lectures at the French Institute on such rarities as the extinct avifauna of Rodriguez, and by spending time in the company of the fiery Diana Villiers.

Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1980 Patrick O'Brian; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Splendid escape. Literate and amusing." (Kirkus)
"Vividly detailed 19th-century settings and dramatic tension punctuated with flashes of wry humor make O'Brian's nautical adventure a splendid treat." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-16-17

Spy-craft and/or spouse-craft

"The pretext: dictatorships were absurdly sensitive to the public opinion they continually outraged; they always had to be in the right, to be morally impeccable; and that was one of the reasons why those who had been much mutilated in their interrogation were rarely allowed to live, whether they had given their information or not."
- Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate

When I was first introduced to these novels and read the first couple, I couldn't believe how GOOD the were, but was skeptical that they could continue with the same level of near perfection the early novels evoked. Now, seven books in, I'm less amazed at the continuity of output. I figure it is something like building a cathedral. If you have a master-builder, it doesn't matter if the church is 10 feet high or 1000 feet. The scale matters, but a genius will produce genius work.

I am, however, a bit more accustomed to how O'Brian pulls this off without the books seeming to sink into the trap of most serial authors. Setting. If O'Brian only told his novels at sea, there might be some inevitable boredom and repetition, but O'Brian doesn't.

For example in this book, the setting goes something like this:

Halifax (Land) => HMS Diligence (Chased from Halifax to Home) => England (Land) / Paris (Land) => HMS Ariel (Baltic Sea/Bay of Biscay) => Paris (Prison) => HMS Oedipus (English Channel).

This one has a bit more setting changes than most, but O'Brian's change of settings and occasional diversions into spy-craft and/or spouse-craft allows enough shadows and depth into these novels to keep the reader from becoming sea-blind.

15 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Larry
  • South Riding, VA, USA
  • 12-24-03

Better than the movie (Master and Comander)

Listening to Patrick Tull read is such a pleasure. This series is one of the best reasons for audio books.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Great series

Would you consider the audio edition of The Surgeon's Mate to be better than the print version?

Yes, I would. Mr. Tull does such a remarkable job in telling the story, that you cannot help but feel you are part of what is going on as a spectator. I have never heard anyone who can take something as simple as a 'flat sea' and make the description seem so real it is as if you are there.<br/>

Any additional comments?

I read this series 20 years ago and am in the process of going through the series again. It is like coming home to old friends. Heartily recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The plot thickens, delightfully

Where does The Surgeon's Mate rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The entire Aubrey/Maturin series ranks as one of my favorite of all time. These books are detailed, fascinating, and charming. The characters, even the cantankerous ones, are compelling. I love them all.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I think Aubrey is probably my favorite, today. It could by Diana tomorrow, or Maturin. Aubrey is very funny, often without realizing it. He is truly a man's man, but with a gentle heart that can't resist the ladies. He is gallant, foolhardy, brilliant and all things engaging.

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

I like his females characters. I also appreciate his pauses that carry with them some unspoken detail, we the reader/listener can use to color in added meaning.

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

Yes, but i parcel it out so it lasts longer.

Any additional comments?

I am looking forward to my next long drive so I can permit myself to listen to the next one in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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JOY!

Steven and Jack have become 2 of my closest friends! This book (and all before it) bring prodigious satisfaction. I'm onto the Ionian Mission...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Another great book that doesn't require 15 words.

Outstanding story, this one with an unexpectedly good ending. Enjoyed it immensely. Bravo, pip pip cheerio and all that rot!

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My favorite series.

This is my all-time favorite series. I have listen to them all on CD and I'm now listening to them all again on Audible. If you are going to get this you must get them with Patrick tall as the narrator.

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Patrick Obrian at his best

The readers in this series are really very good. Anybody with a wish for the stories of romance, deep friendship, action, and adventure should read or listen to this series.

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Surgeon's mate

Excellent yarn. Totally absorbed in the entire series to date. Cannot seem to stop or take a break. Look forward to every opportunity to listen to the next chapter!

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Best series

The Surgeon's Mate has great characters, high adventure, natural studies, history & romance. This is my second read of the series and it's just as good this time. It is so rich in detail that I catch things I didn't fully appreciate the first read. I'll regret when I finish all the books the second time. I highly recommend it.