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Publisher's Summary

At the outset of this adventure, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin pursue a heavy American privateer through the Great South Sea. Their ship, the Surprise, is now also a privateer, the better to escape diplomatic complications from Stephen's mission, which is to ignite the revolutionary tinder of South America. Jack will survive a desperate open-boat journey and come face to face with his illegitimate black son; Stephen, caught up in the aftermath of his failed coup, will flee for his life into the high, frozen wastes of the Andes; and Patrick O'Brian's brilliantly detailed narrative will reuinte them at last in a breathtaking chase through storm seas and icebergs south of Cape Horn.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1993 Patrick O'Brian (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic Reviews

"So much better than the competition that comparisons long ago ceased to be relevant: [the Aubrey/Maturin books] are uniquely excellent." (The New York Times) "Meticulously researched and heart-stoppingly vivid." (Washington Post Book World)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall

Patrick Tull is the only narrator to choose

Patrick Tull reads the Aubrey/Maturin novels far better than anyone else. Buy the whole series with his voices, to bring alive each character with subtlety and vigor.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 11-28-17

oínopa pónton

“And jealous now of me, you gods, because I befriend a man, one I saved as he straddled the keel alone, when Zeus had blasted and shattered his swift ship with a bright lightning bolt, out on the wine-dark sea.”
—Homer, The Odyssey, Book V

So, "wine-dark sea" (or "oínopa pónton") is a phrase used quite a bit by Homer. And Homer was quite an author I guess. And he did some pretty damn good writing about boats and stuff. So, it is only natural that Patrick O'Brian would eventually get around to using the "Wine-Dark Sea" image in one of his books. In Book 16 to be specific. This book is actually book 4, of a 5-novel circumnavigation of the globe sieries within his greater 20 book (21 if you count his last unfinished novel) Aubrey-Maturin series. There is some nice sailing, and the wine-dark sea section happens to appear at a point when some volcanic activity is happening nearby (which given the location of most of Homer's sea stories, also ties the mysterious wine-dark colors together).

Anyway, there was some interesting sections dealing with South American politics, and Andes hiking. Some of my favorite new characters are the two little girls rescued from a South Asian island that was decimated with small-pox. They have attached themselves to Dr. Maturin and become a lovely feature on the Surprise. I'm starting to get that feeling one gets towards the last couple days of an amazing vacation. You still enjoy the country, beach, mountains, etc., but there is a sense of impending dread that this all will end too soon. One day, I'll reach to the table next to my bed and there won't be a new O'Brian novel to read. I'm already sad.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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If you've gotten this far, you don't need a review

If you could sum up The Wine-Dark Sea in three words, what would they be?

Hip, hop, horray

Who was your favorite character and why?

They're always the same; Aubrey, Maturin, Bonden; having listened to all the books, they feel like friends

Have you listened to any of Patrick Tull’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Tull is beyond compare. He has all the accents down beautifully, and his voice is perfect for this seafaring classic.

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

I'd like to listen to all 20+ in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

A tour de force; I'll have more to say after the last volume.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Audible Sound Cloud puts ending in the middle!

What did you love best about The Wine-Dark Sea?

I do love this book. I have read the entire series and I love Patrick Tull's readings of them.

HOWEVER, at the moment I CANNOT RECOMMEND THE AUDIBLE VERSION. On Sound Cloud, the very ending of the book instead cuts in during Section 12, the middle of the story. With audio books, I'm generally listening in 30 minute chunks as I clean, so I was simply confused about how I seemed miss some plot twist. Then at the end of the book, it simply cuts to an author interview -- in the midst of an unfinished ship chase! I spent two days calling to try to get it fixed with Audible tech support. It was not fixed. Eventually in desperation, I went re-read the plot summary online, and re-found that confusing section in the middle (actually the ending of the story), so I could at least have closure...

I am so sad to have invested so much time listening to the book, only to end up with an overall rather confusing, strange version. GO READ THE PAPER BOOK FOR THIS ONE.

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Still firing on all cylinders

this is more like a collection of short stories, but it is excellent all around and has some of the best writing of the entire Canon. Patrick Tull's performance is confident, suerb, and hilarious. Highest recommendation.

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Another great book in the Aubrey/Matchurin series.

This is another great book in the Aubrey/Matchurin series. This book has a very good storyline. On to the next book in the series.

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Always consistent with the story line.

The series is always consistent with tradition of the British Royal Navy. My favorite stories!

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Not my cup of tea, or port, or grog.

Would you try another book from Patrick O'Brian and/or Patrick Tull?

Years ago, after tremendously enjoying the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, I wanted to read the Aubrey/Maturin series starting with book #1. After wading through the first few chapters of that initial volume, I quit. Too much conversation, too much narration, not enough action. I was surprised that I did not enjoy the book, as I do like reading about nautical adventures involving naval sailing ships and customs, such as Mutiny on the Bounty and various biographies of Lord Nelson, Magellan and Captain Cook. When I recently spotted excellent reviews of this 16th book in Patrick O'Brian's series, I decided to chance its Audible version. Perhaps a good narration would make all the difference. Sadly, not for me. Once again, there was too much conversation, too much narration, not enough action. I realize that I am alone at sea in this opinion. I sailed against the wind to the halfway point in this book, but I'm not going to finish it. For me the pleasure derived is so small that it does not warrant the time and effort involved.

Would you ever listen to anything by Patrick O'Brian again?

No.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Patrick Tull has a great storytelling voice and manner. However, in the case of this book, I'm not sure he was the best choice. He came across as a crusty old salt no matter which character's lines he was speaking, and some of those characters were written as being cultured and sophisticated. I understand that Simon Vance also narrated this series of books. I like Vance a great deal, but doubt that even he could have rescued this experience for me.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It must, because most reviews are loaded with praise. I missed the boat, it seems. (Pun intended.)

Any additional comments?

Perhaps I am better suited to reading nonfiction sea adventures. Don't let this review stop you from checking out this book, if you are so inclined. Reviews aren't always a matter of the merits of books so much as an indication of subjective experience and personal taste. You might find yourself to be a Patrick O'Brian fan.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dennis
  • FORT PIERCE, FL, United States
  • 02-19-13

The ocean can be a wild place

What made the experience of listening to The Wine-Dark Sea the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the story it flowed from the one before and I look forward to the next one

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wine-Dark Sea?

Well, it isn't every night you run into an underwater volcano forming an island, That was very interesting and dangerous

Have you listened to any of Patrick Tull’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, and I very much enjoyed all of them so far

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

An Ocean full of surpises

Any additional comments?

Look forward to reading more the story line is enthralling

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-25-11

The Wine Dark Sea

Patrick O'Brian did a great job narrating this story. This is an interesting tale the first half deals mostly with Aubrey and sailing along with sea battles. The description of the wine dark sea, earthquakes and the volcanic explosion in the ocean was fascinating. The second half deal more with Maturin and the politics and intrigue of Peru and Chili. Then his trek along the Andean Mt's to Chili with the naturalist description. Interesting book.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful