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

4.5 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I'd like to answer the British Columbia readers question. There are 11 novels in C.S. Forrester's Hornblower saga. Additionally, at least one publisher has books that contain up to three of the novels in one volume. Interestingly, Forester didn't write the 11 books in chronological order. Consequently, some publishers elect to place numbers on the spine of each book to indicate where a particular title falls in the chronology. The current US printing (1999), by Back Bay Books, a division of Little Brown and Co., is not complete. At least the last three chronological titles (Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower and Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies) will hit the shelves later in 1999. I can't wait. Each book stands on its own and every one is addictive.
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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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Format: Paperback
Lord Hornblower (1946) is C. S. Forester's tenth Hornblower novel by chronology, fifth by publication. Commodore Horatio Hornblower is sent to the coast of France to deal with a ship of British mutineers who have threatened to take refuge in France. Not content just to handle this problem, Hornblower also gets himself involved in a French occupation and guerilla warfare.

The earliest part of Lord Hornblower, where Hornblower is dealing with the mutinous Flame, is the novel's best. It features an unpredictable and creative resolution that hearkens to many of Hornblower's pre-captaincy adventures. When the book moves into France, however, it suffers. Land campaigns are still not Forester's strong suit, and he skips over lengthy time periods where quite a lot happens in order to fit this story into one novel. One of Commodore Hornblower's main problems was that Hornblower was well-removed from the action, and never in any real danger. Forester has corrected this here, perhaps to the extreme.

Hornblower, as usual, is wildly successful in his endeavors, although he benefits greatly from several very convenient plot devices and not a little bit of deus ex machina. And as severe and hard on himself as Hornblower is in most areas of his life, and as guilty as he feels when he perceives a failing in himself, it continues to be remarkable that he always drops his pants the first chance he gets, with no regard for anyone but himself. At least he never really has the decency to feel bad about it afterward.

It has become quite clear that the novels of Hornblower's earlier career are superior - both the stories and the man himself are considerably more interesting and likable.
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