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Publisher's Summary

This is the first novel Patrick O'Brian ever wrote about the sea, a precursor to the Aubrey/Maturin series that The New York Times has hailed as "the best historical novels ever written." The Golden Ocean shares the high-seas adventure and rich humor of this triumphant series, invoking the eloquent style and authentic historic atmosphere that O'Brian fans love so much. In 1740, two young Irishmen, lifelong friends Peter and Sean, join Commodore Anson and his crew on their quest for fortune and fame on the golden ocean.
©1956 Patrick O'Brian (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic Reviews

"An entertaining and psychologically astute narrative....This early work has practically all the naval lore and sense of place that grace the Aubrey/Maturin books." (Publishers Weekly)
"A rousing novelistic retelling of a particularly colorful chapter in the history of the imperialist wars of the mid-18th century...Robust and exhilarating." (Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about The Golden Ocean

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful prequel to Master and Commander

This is a wonderful entertaining prequel to the Master and Commander series. The writing and reading are lyrical and thoroughly engrossing. The text is spare and perfectly suited to the time of place of the story. One is transported to the British Navy of the 18th century with all of its cultural, ritualistic and stylistic norms. I have listened to the entire Master and Commander series three times and am now listening to Golden Ocean for the second.
This is very highly recommended for anyone who can appreciate excellent writing, reading and storytelling.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Patrick O'Brien at His Best!

If you love stories of sailing ships, adventure on the high seas and feats of derring-do, this book is for you. I have read many of O'Brien's books, and loved every one of them; including this one.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Great Story of Shipboard life in 1740

I am a big fan of Patrick O’Brian (1914-2000). I have read all the Aubrey/Maturin Series. I thought I had read all of O’Brian’s books until I discovered “The Golden Ocean”. I understand it was his first novel.

The story takes place from 1740-44. Our protagonist is Peter Palafox who is a midshipman under Commodore George Anson. They are on a voyage to circumnavigate the world. The historical novel is well written, but maybe it is not as polished as his later books. O’Brian does an excellent job of portraying life aboard a Royal Navy Ship. This book was first published in 1956. O’Brian was one of the greatest writers of sea stories.

The book is eleven hours and three minutes. John Franklyn-Robbins (1924-2009) does an excellent job narrating the book. Franklyn-Robbins was a British Shakespearean actor. He was also a well-known audiobook narrator.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A 1st Rate Listen

This may be my favorite O'Brian book though it is less known than the Aubrey/Maturin series. O'Brian is unrivaled in his ability to make us hear the booming of the big guns in battle, but in this book he also shines in the moments when his marvelous comic sense comes to the fore.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Patrick O'Brian' first is a great freshman outing.

While not his best novel, the Golden Ocean is still a very fine story of a young boy growing into a man aboard a Man o' War and the people who he becomes brothers with along the long hard journey.

The narration can, at times, seem jumpy. The narrators voice will suddenly smooth out probably from a new recording session as he does a tremendous job providing voices to characters that fit right in with their personalities. His characterizations of Peter, Sean, Ransom. and the rest really bring the story to life. But his narration of ship to ship action could use more liveliness.

Patrick O'Brian is the master of storytelling during the age of sail and, while this outing is of a historical voyage told from the middhipmens' berth, we really get to care about Peter and Sean, flaws and all. But Peter is no Captain Lucky Jack Aubrey and Sean no Stephen Maturin. The boys' tale is one of growing up and very different from the quandries faced by a Captain and his friend, the spy.

I am looking forward to the second one from this line, but first I need to get my fix of some Lucky Jack and Stephen.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Winner, as usual

O'Brian is a master. This is a wonderful introduction to his writing. While not directly related to the Aubrey/Maturin series, I'd recommend this as an introduction. I know almost nothing about sailing, but that's not the point of these exciting stories.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A pleasure to listen

This being my first audio book, I think I've been spoiled. What a wonderful narrator. I read all 21 Aubrey-Matruin novels but goingback to Patrick O'Brian's first was a joy. The narrators inflexions in his voice for each character allows the reader to identify with the character immediately.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A good "sea read" and excellent narration.

I read almost all of Patrick O'Brian's novels from the Aubrey-Maturin series, and I have heard audio recordings of many of them, narrated by Patrick Tull. I was unaware of this book until Audible included it in a sale. I was unsure of the narrator, until I listened to a sample. The narrator did a wonderful job; he used a clear and slightly resonant voice and provided apprpriate accents and tones for the characters' speaking. The story was quite interesting. The only thing that I did not enjoy was that the writer sometimes jumped forward in his story, after a while filling in enough of the intervening events to explain the event that opened the jump. Somehow, the effect of the technique did not please me; it reminded me of poor film editing in a movie. Whether it was done totally at the writer's desire and hand, or whether an editor/publisher was involved too deeply, the result diminished my enjoyment.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The story was good, but the narrator was ok.

I’m a huge Patrick O’Brian fan and have read most of his books. I decided to listen to The Golden Ocean because I haven’t read it in about 20 years and thought it would be a good listen. I had forgotten how slow the book starts and it really doesn’t capture the true O’Brian sea tales that I love until about 3/4 through the book. The ending is pure O’Brian treasure, but it takes a long time to get there. My biggest complaint and probably the reason for the slogging through the majority of the first half is the narrator. He would be great for a story about an old man, but this is a tale of a young midshipman heading to sea. The old man’s voice can’t capture the youth of the story.
I’m still a huge O’Brian fan and always will be. I’m looking forward to continuing listening to his other works, just hoping the narrator matches the tale.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very well done!

Great story, excellently narrated. Characters are voiced wonderfully, reading pace very well done. O'Brian fans will not be disappointed. Highly recommended!