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The Commodore (Vol. Book 17) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Paperback – April 17, 1996

148 customer reviews

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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."

From Publishers Weekly

This 17th installment in O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series of historical naval tales spent two weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 17)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393314595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314595
  • ASIN: 0393314596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 73 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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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael H. Siegel on July 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book started out so well. After Horatio Hornblower's triumph in the Baltic, he is assigned an incredibly difficult duty. He is to take back a ship that has mutinied against one of the most brutal captains in the Royal Navy. The ship is only a few miles from escaping to France and recapturing it is going to take all of Hornblower's ingenuity.
When Lord Hornblower was dealing with this subject, I found it thrilling and captivating. But halfway through, it changes to Hornblower entering France and taking part in the rebellion against the tottering Napoleon. It was then that the novel ground to a screeching halt. Hornblower's attempts to deal with the crown prince of France are amazingly dull and his later guerilla campaign was unbelievable. Perhaps I was turned off by a developement with Bush halfway through that was abrupt and cold. But for some reason, the last half of his book dragged for me -- a situation I'd never experienced before in a Hornblower book.
I would probably still recommend purchasing this book if you've come this far. But don't get your hopes up. This is a low point in the series.
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13 of 15 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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11 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I prefer more mainstream historical fiction like "The Triumph and the Glory" or "Cold Mountain" to tightly focused sea tales like Forester's Hornblower series. But the Hornblower books are SO WELL DONE that I just can't resist them. Lord Hornblower tops a very good list of Hornblower books, it, only Hornblower During the Crisis is nearly as good.
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