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The Commodore (Vol. Book 17) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Hardcover – April 17, 1995

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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 17)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton; 1st edition (April 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393037606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393037609
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

After several installments of gallivanting around the South Seas, Aubrey and Maturin return home to England, where the surgeon-cum-intelligence-agent discovers that his wife has disappeared. As if such a domestic crisis weren't enough, the intrepid pair are also dispatched to the Gulf of Guinea (to suppress the slave trade) and to Ireland (to rebuff an impending French invasion.) O'Brian's stunning range, coupled with his mind-bending command of minutiae, explain why James Hamilton-Paterson has called him "the Homer of the Napoleonic Wars." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Having spent 16 previous volumes so wonderfully delineating his pair of 18th-century heroes, Captain Jack Aubrey and physician/secret agent Stephen Maturin, and the world in which they live, O'Brian apparently feels that series fans will be delighted to share any aspect of their lives. He's probably right. In this 17th seagoing adventure (after The Wine-Dark Sea), O'Brian successfully manages the trick of devoting much of the book to matters more domestic than naval. Stephen's words to Jack's wife, Sophie, hardly smell of gunpowder and brine: "'...that was a sumptuous feast you gave us.... I returned to the venison pasty not once but three times.'" Jack is greeted with an unexpected promotion to full Commodore when he arrives back in England. Meanwhile, Stephen finds that his wife, Diane, has run away because of her guilt over the apparent autism of their young daughter, whom Stephen meets for the first time, and with whom he is painfully unable to communicate. When next they head out to sea, both men depart under clouds: a jealousy-induced disagreement with Sophie weighs on Jack's mind, while plotting by Stephen's enemies has put his fortune and friends in jeopardy. Re-engaging in the Napoleonic Wars, the new Commodore takes his motley and often fractious squadron on a foray to disrupt slave traders in the Gulf of Guinea and then to the seas off Ireland to engage the French. As always, O'Brian tells his tale with great historical and nautical accuracy. Those who have sailed these seas before will happily go along on this latest voyage.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

In addition to twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many books include "Testimonies," "The Golden Ocean," and "The Unknown Shore". O'Brian also wrote acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biographies of Charles de Gaulle. He passed away in January 2000 at the age of 85.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 56 customer reviews
The seventeenth installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series is vintage O'Brian.
O'Brien's interest in psychology went well beyond normal character development, some books contain excellent case studies of anxiety, depression, and mania.
R. Albin
Now my eyes are getting old and I was so happy they finally made those books for Kindle so that I can go to sea this summer.
Janice U. Raine

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By W. Weinstein on May 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
Don't read this book unless you have read the previous sixteen in the series. It's not that this book is bad on its own but simply that you will miss so much by not having grown with Aubrey and Maturin as they make their way through the shoals and lee shores of war and peace, marriage and separation, famine and feast. These books have been compared with the Hornblower series but this damns them with faint praise. They are, in every respect, far superior, truly works of great literature. The research and the depth of character development are staggering achievements on their own but these are no stuffy historical tracts; the pages are filled with sly humour. There are great acts of courage and infamy and sweeping tragedy. There is the story, which threads its way through all the books, of a lasting, deep friendship between two disparate personalities. The scenes of battle, winning and losing are among the best writing of this century. Think I exaggerate? Buy the first three books in the series and see for yourself.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Zecon on December 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
After finishing this seventeenth installation in the Aubrey/Maturin series, I found myself wishing that there were still another seventeen novels to read. Patrick O'Brien's weaves a wonderful tale - one so vivid and magical that it is so very difficult to put any of the irresistible Aubrey/Maturin novels down. The seagoing tale that Patrick O'Brien has crafted is filled with interesting characters and a consistently compelling story-line. It is also replete with accurate historical detail and fully captures the political intrigue of the British Navy's involvement in the Napoleonic wars of the nineteenth-century.

Even though Commodore Aubrey's mission is to suppress the slave trade off the west coast of Africa and later onto a secret mission on the Irish coast to prevent a French invasion, `The Commodore' is not filled with seagoing adventure. In fact, the main components of the tale take place ashore. Maturin and Aubrey find themselves home after a long and successful adventure. While Lucky Jack is promoted to Commodore of the First Class, not all is well at home. Both he and his wife suspect the other of infidelity. Dianne has run away leaving Stephen's autistic child with the widow Clarissa Oakes. Political intrigue forces Stephen to slip some of his fortune and his child to Spain.

At sea, Stephen battles his addition to coca leaves and a severe bout with Yellow Fever. Commodore Aubrey's leadership and seamanship are tested by two Captains under his command. One is more interested in polished brass and drives his crew hard with the whip. The other is a sodomite, whose favoritism to those young men among his crew that he beds disrupts discipline and the fighting efficacy of his vessel.

This is one of the more magnificent books in the series and I heartily recommend it, as I do with the rest of the books in the Aubrey/Maturin series.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is the 17th in a series of historical novels, beginning with Master and Commander. It is said by some that these books comprise one long, glorious novel. If you've read them this far, you've become immersed in the 19th century world of Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin (much as Stephen often becomes immersed in the sea). If you haven't, you're in for a treat. The Commodore once again showcases Patrick O'Brian's sly wit, command of the English language and knowledge of the early 19th century. This knowledge includes all things nautical, of course, along with zoology, art, music, politics, medicine and the "natural philosophy" (science) of the time. Intricate plots, sea battles, espionage, character-based humor and the friendship between Jack, the English sea captain and Stephen, the ship's surgeon, keep us coming back for more.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Some critics have referred to the Aubrey/Maturin books as one long novel united not only by their historical setting but also by the central plot element of the Aubrey/Maturin friendship. Having read these fine books over a period of several years, I decided to evaluate their cumulative integrity by reading them consecutively in order of publication over a period of a few weeks. This turned out to be a rewarding enterprise. For readers unfamiliar with these books, they describe the experiences of a Royal Navy officer and his close friend and traveling companion, a naval surgeon. The experiences cover a broad swath of the Napoleonic Wars and virtually the whole globe.
Rereading all the books confirmed that O'Brian is a superb writer and that his ability to evoke the past is outstanding. O'Brian has numerous gifts as a writer. He is the master of the long, careful description, and the short, telling episode. His ability to construct ingenious but creditable plots is first-rate, probably because he based much of the action of his books on actual events. For example, some of the episodes of Jack Aubrey's career are based on the life of the famous frigate captain, Lord Cochrane. O'Brian excels also in his depiction of characters. His ability to develop psychologically creditable characters through a combination of dialogue, comments by other characters, and description is tremendous. O'Brien's interest in psychology went well beyond normal character development, some books contain excellent case studies of anxiety, depression, and mania.
Reading O'Brien gives vivid view of the early 19th century. The historian Bernard Bailyn, writing of colonial America, stated once that the 18th century world was not only pre-industrial but also pre-humanitarian (paraphrase).
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