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Patrick O'Brian


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O'Brian is the author of the delightful Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin series. Jack Aubrey is a captain in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars and the War of 1812; Stephen Maturin is a naturalist, a physician, a spy, and Jack's particular friend. The books take place all over the world, and offer an interesting picture of the British Empire shortly after 1800. The characters are memorable and finely drawn, the writing is excellent, the history accurate, and each book is better than the last. There are presently 17 or 18 books in the series, which should under no circumstances be read out of order: each book follows directly upon the last. The first three books are Master and Commander, Post Captain, and H.M.S. Surprise.

There are two companion volumes to the series. A Sea of Words contains background material on the Royal Navy and on medical practice of that era, along with a glossary of unusual terms from the books. Harbors and High Seas contains plot summaries of the first 16 or so books, along with detailed maps of the action for the geographically challenged. The former is by Dean King, with John B. Hattendorf and J. Worth Estes; the latter is by King and Hattendorf alone.

In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, O'Brian has written excellent two novels about Commodore Anson's ill-fated voyage to the Pacific in the mid-18th century, The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore, a mainstream novel called Testimonies, and a book of short stories called The Rendezvous, as well as biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks, the English naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook on his voyages.

Susan Wenger has written a parody of the Aubrey/Maturin novels entitled The Port-Wine Sea; it's published by Erica House and is currently available.

Alas, Jack Aubrey will sail no more; O'Brian passed away on January 2nd, 2000. The new century was too much for him.

The Aubrey/Maturin Series

Master and Commander
Reviews: 1 June 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 April 2001, 1 February 2002
Post-Captain
Reviews: 1 July 1997, 1 November 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 May 2001
HMS Surprise
Reviews: 1 November 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 June 2001, 1 January 2004
The Mauritius Command
Reviews: 1 November 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 July 2001, 1 January 2004
Desolation Island
Reviews: 1 December 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 August 2001, 1 January 2004
The Fortune of War
Reviews: 1 December 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 September 2001
The Surgeon's Mate
Reviews: 1 December 1997, 1 April 1999, 1 October 2001
The Ionian Mission
Reviews: 1 January 1998, 1 April 1999, 1 November 2001
Treason's Harbour
Reviews: 1 January 1998, 1 May 1999
The Far Side of the World
Reviews: 1 January 1998, 1 May 1999, 1 January 2002
The Reverse of the Medal
Reviews: 1 January 1998, 1 May 1999, 1 February 2002
The Letter of Marque
Reviews: 1 February 1998, 1 May 1999, 1 March 2002
The Thirteen Gun Salute
Reviews: 1 February 1998, 1 July 1999, 1 April 2002
The Nutmeg of Consolation
Reviews: 1 February 1998, 1 July 1999, 1 May 2002
The Truelove
Published as Clarissa Oakes in the UK. Reviews: 1 March 1998, 1 July 1999, 1 June 2002
The Wine-Dark Sea
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 July 1999, 1 July 2002
The Commodore
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 December 1999, 1 August 2002
The Yellow Admiral
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 December 1999, 1 September 2002, 1 October 2002
The Hundred Days
Reviews: 1 December 1999, 1 December 2002
Blue at the Mizzen
Reviews: 1 January 2003

Other Books by Patrick O'Brian

The Unknown Shore
Reviews: 1 February 1997
The Golden Ocean
Reviews: 1 February 1997
The Rendezvous
Reviews: 23 August 1997
Testimonies
Reviews: 1 December 1997
Joseph Banks: A Life
Reviews: 1 December 1997

Related Works

The Port-Wine Sea
A parody of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, written by Susan Wenger. Reviews: 1 May 2000


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