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Old 29th Nov 2006, 14:36   #11
John Self
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Default Re: Patrick O'Brian

I can sell you the dust jacket from House of Meetings for a mere £13.99.
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Old 29th Nov 2006, 17:13   #12
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Default Re: Patrick O'Brian

Jim, don't worry about it. Quite a lot of the seafaring stuff is like this. After a while you learn what's going on or ignore it. If O'Brian doesn't explain it, it doesn't matter. Sometimes O'Brian uses Maturin as the silly landlubber, so someone can explain the terms to him, and inform the reader at the same time.
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Old 21st Dec 2006, 12:54   #13
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Much to my own surprise I appear to be turning into something of a naval anorak - well, perhaps not, but I have kept going with Master and Commander and can see land on the horizon. In fact it's been pretty enjoyable once you get past the incomprehensible jargon, and as Gill says, you do get past it. Whether that's because it diminishes as the book progresses, you learn to ignore it or, heaven forbid, you actually start to understand some of it I'm not sure - probably a mixture of all three.

Anyway, O'Brian writes pretty well to be honest. It is narrated in an eighteenth century style of prose and both the narration and the dialogue seem pretty authentic to me - I'm sure they are.

You might say that the characterisation is perhaps less than subtle. Jack Aubrey's and Stephen Maturin's characters are described pretty clearly however, one should I suppose acknowledge that this is a genre novel and that is perhaps to be expected. I would say that having seen the film, they pretty well nailed these parts, particularly the actor who played Maturin.

As a description of naval life during Napoleonic times it is really quite fascinating. Having been relatively recently to Mahon it is interesting to see described what it might have been like when it was a busy naval port. I remember at the time reading that it is something like the second deepest harbour in the world but I didn't really have much idea about its history from this time.

Whether I go on and read any more I am not sure but I am certainly enjoying it more than expected. - .

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Old 25th Dec 2006, 10:35   #14
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Ok I admit it - I've read the whole series.
This happened a few years ago before the film; I just happened to stumble on the first one and well you know how it happens...
As a collective body of work the standard is amazing as O'Brian never really has a bad day at the office. I would say the last five novels (or so) perhaps lack a bit of steam (bad pun there somewhere!) or maybe there just isn't enough fighting, but even these novels are of a very high standard.
I think its in the detail where O'Brian really excels & the relationship between the 2 protagonists is enthralling - how they play off each other.
One thing I would say to anyone who has just read 'Master & Commander' is that I think O'Brian slightly alters his style in the subsequent books - I seem to remember that although 'Master & Commander' was an excellent book the language could at times be hard going (a deluge of naval terms & I think O'Brian maybe trying to be 'too authentic' if thats possible); wheras the subsequent novels were easier to read. Or maybe the reader just gets more used to the style?
I can't remember if anyone meantioned this, but it's all based on a real person - Captain Cochoran (sorry if spelling wrong) - a real maveric a real "fighting captain" as they say and there's a biography on him, which I have but haven't read as yet.
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Old 30th Jan 2007, 15:18   #15
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Default Re: Patrick O'Brian

Yes, Lord Cochrane, a Scottish gentleman, was the model for much of Aubrey's doings. The sinking of the Cacafuego was straight out of Cochrane, and Cochrane fell into disrepute for a while, and organised South American navies. I've read the biog of Cochrane, but O'Brian is much more fun.

I'd agree, also, that the tone of later books is easier than M & C.
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Old 30th Jan 2007, 15:24   #16
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Default Re: Patrick O'Brian

Desolation Island Plenty more seafaring and a welcome absence of Love interest. The running battle with the Dutch ship is extremely memorable. The ship of the story, "the 'orrible old Leopard", is a character in itself, being so un-seaworthy and accident-prone. There's also an interesting back story of espionage and disinformation. One of the most enjoyable of the series.


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Old 13th Feb 2007, 11:56   #17
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The Fortune of War This is a bit of a "bridge" book, tying up the end of Desolation Island, and then doing a spot of implausible derring-do in Boston with one of the female leads. On the plus side, he describes a couple of very good naval warfare incidents in the American war. It is still an excellent book, but one of the low points of the Aubrey-Maturin series.


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Old 7th Mar 2007, 17:30   #18
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The Surgeon's Mate One of the best books in the series - lots of naval action, some background about the Baltic campaign, and a glimpse of post-revolutionary France. Excellent.


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Old 2nd Apr 2007, 12:51   #19
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The Ionian Mission -

This was the first O'Brian I read, and the trigger to get me reading the rest. It has just enough of every ingredient of the Aubrey - Maturin canon to make it an entirely enjoyable, for me, read. The characters have matured, the vast majority of the action is at sea, and there is a confidence about the narrative that allows O'Brian to stop the book abruptly right at the end of a ferocious naval battle, leaving it to Traitor's Harbour, the next book, to tidy up the loose ends, which he does in the first few pages without any awkwardness. The book is full of shipboard jargon, but this far down the series, he has learned to explain it for landlubbers. On this third reading of the series, it is still my favourite.


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Old 3rd Apr 2007, 14:06   #20
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Default Re: Patrick O'Brian

I have added into my previous reviews some of Geoff Hunt's cover art for the Patrick O'Brian books.
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