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Publisher's Summary

In The Letter of Marque, Jack is once again aboard his beloved Surprise but stripped of his post captaincy for a crime he did not commit. Bought by Stephen, the Surprise has become a privateer. Sailing into French waters, the two concoct a desperate mission which, if successful, may redeem Aubrey from his state of disgrace. A nighttime battle with an unusual climax, a jewel of great value and Stephen's fondness for opium make this segment of O'Brian's masterful series both original and profoundly exciting.
Don't miss the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series.
©1988 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)

"[Narrator Patrick] Tull's characterization of these two heroes, his mastery of dialect and his rousing reading of these dramatic sea sagas have become a standard against which all other productions of O'Brian's work must be measured.... Historical fiction doesn't get any better, and Tull's narration is 'Prime.'" ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Letter of Marque

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Two Patricks

I have listened to all the Aubrey/Maturin books,each narrated by Patrick Tull,unabridged, and will start at the beginning to savor them all again.I tuned into CSPAN on the car radio one night and heard P. O'Brian being interviewed by Walter Cronkite.I was so taken by his intelligence ,wit and charm that I read the first novel.It was great but hearing Patrick Tull read the second one was what blew me away.I was hooked! And I never liked naval lore or historical novels before.These two Patricks collaborated to deliver hours of pleasure...seventeen books making up one huge novel.I can't imagine any narrator doing a better job of bringing the books to life.

33 people found this helpful

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Privateering and the Search for Redemption

I have often observed that extremely violent noise and activity go with good-fellowship and heightened spirits.”
― Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque

Captain Aubrey has been kicked out of the Navy based on some financial speculation that he was involved in. Now, he is sailing the Surprise decked out as a privateer (under the Letter of Marque) which allows him to earn a bit more money and enjoy a bit more freedom. Captain Aubrey, however, is a man who misses the Navy and being away from the Navy is killing him. Meanwhile, Dr. Maturin has his demons to deal with (women, or one woman, and Laudanum).

This isn't the strongest book in the series (12 books in and this might be the weakest so far, but still isn't really weak or weak only relatively), but it is nice to see a different aspect of the the British Navy. Probably the most famous Privateer in history is Francis Drake. Aubrey engages in several battles at sea and is able "right" his fortune and perhaps even his name. There is a scene at the end when Dr. Maturin is under the spell of a large dose of Laudanum that while interesting is a bit weak (he dreams of balloons, and Diana). There was certainly plenty of foreshadowing of balloons to make its entrance in his dream believable, but it was just not polished enough. No. Polished isn't right. It didn't risk enough. It was a bit of a boring scene. Anyway, still a very good book -- with just a few barnacles attached.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Refreshing

I have listened to all of the Aubrey/Maturin series and this one was one of the very best. Jack being released from the RN seems to have been a great release for O'Brien also. He takes the liberty of straying a little from the confines of the Royal Navy's diabolical treatment of one of their best commanders and tells a thumping good story. Tull, also appears to 'enjoy' reading this one a bit more as his performance is reverting. I loved this one and i am sure you will too.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

New Life

I don't know why, but Tull has gone to town w/ the voices on this one. The story is great, one of the best so far, but after listening to the series thus far it was refreshing to here the improved voices.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

6 people found this helpful

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Charactors that are more than characters

Patrick Obrian has created a world full of characters that have become more than just characters in a story. They have become friends (and sometimes foes) whose futures and fortunes are of keen personal interest to me. You can't say fairer of an author. And Patrick Tull brings these friends to life in another excellent performance.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very Good

This was a good story, nicely told. Interesting, adventurous, suspenseful, and well-written.

That I came away disinclined to read the rest is probably only my disinterest in the genre.

I would recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

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I much prefer the Simon Vance

If you could sum up The Letter of Marque in three words, what would they be?

Brilliant books, I've listened to them through at least 4 times. I got the first one, because of the movie, but it and the next 12 were read by Simon Vance. I dislike the other readers, as I'd gotten to "know" the characters in a different voice, and their character seemed to change with Patrick Tull and Tim Pigott Smith, to almost cartoonish. The Vance interpretation is more dignified, whereas the other readers make Stephen too "Irish" which is incongruous with his education, his travel, the fact that he speaks as many languages as he does, and with the fact that at dinners etc., strangers will comment on the Irish in a way that they would not if they knew he was Irish, which they would if he had such a thick accent. As well, he speaks so many languages, and is such a cool, shrewd spy, he should not be made to sound like such a buffoon as Tull makes him sound. He should sound as cool and suave, as Vance makes him sound. As well, Vance is such a master at all the different voices, accents, dialects, even languages, it is effortless to know who is talking, indeed you forget that the story is being read by one man. He even reads the female and child parts convincingly. Even though I have books 13-16 by Tull and Pigott Smith, when they come available by Vance, I will buy them again, and listen to them again. Vance makes Stephen and Jack each cool and sexy in their own way, while the other readers turn them into cartoon characters.

4 people found this helpful

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One of the most enjoyable books of the series.

One of the best books in the series! They are all great but this one brings so much full circle.

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Thoroughly Entertaining

One of the better books in a long series of good ones. The narration is excellent and engaging. and it features the return of Diana Villars. I loved the ending too, but won't spoil it here. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jon
  • 09-21-06

Letter of Marque

A gripping yarn read by a master of the art - O'Brian's further adventures of Captain Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are brought to life by a master of story telling - Patrick Tull... Brilliant. It's just a shame that the other unabridged O'Brian books read by Tull aren't in the Audible collection.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • John L.
  • 04-06-06

How to lose yourself in history

As an O'Brian fan, it would have to be something really dull to stop me from marking it high, but this was really top notch - the way in which the story was read helped transport me back into the times of the French wars and ripping yarns - Brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs Gadd
  • 02-12-19

Patrick Tull is by far the best reader of these books

Patrick Tull reads perfectly, with perfect characterisation of Maturin, Aubrey and of the other characters, and wonderful range of tone from the dramatic to the elegiac.