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Master and Commander Paperback – August 17, 1990
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Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
I first heard of Patrick O'Brian when he died three years ago and was movingly eulogized in George Will's column. Now I don't normally read historical fiction, especially military historical fiction, but Will made such a strong case that I felt obliged to at least check O'Brian out. I'm glad I did; Master and Commander is a well-written, powerful book that succeeds as a character study, an obsessively-researched recreation of early 19th-century life, and as an adventure.
The novel, the first in a twenty-book series, opens with Jack Aubrey, a young lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, being granted his long-awaited promotion to the rank of captain (or officially, "master and commander") and the command of the Sophie, a modest little vessel in the Mediterranean. At a concert, Jack nearly comes to blows with the haughty intellectual Dr. Stephen Maturin, but the two quickly reconcile over breakfast and Jack, whose ship is desperately undermanned, offers the penniless Maturin a post as ship's surgeon.
The two men eventually become best friends, despite their being a sort of seaborne Odd Couple. Aubrey, unlike most fictional heroes, is not a silent, craggy-jawed Adonis; he's fat, red-faced, good-humored, and a bit of a buffoon, the kind of person who laughs maniacally at his own jokes.Read more ›
The novel begins in Port Mahon in 1800. Aubrey, for the moment, is a naval officer without a command, restless and impatient for action. (Britain and Revolutionary France are at war.) Quite by accident, he literally bumps up against Stephen Maturin and a budding friendship develops between them.
O'Brian faithfully evokes the atmosphere of those distant times. The language may seem a bit stilted and obscure. But part of O'Brian's genius as a writer is that as you read deeply into this novel, you'll soon find yourself swept along on the ebb and flow of events. All your senses will be titillated.
Besides Aubrey and Maturin, O'Brian creates here a variety of richly textured characters who bring vividly forth the ambience of wartime shipboard life in the Age of Sail.
So, if you're looking for a thoroughly engaging and captivating story, "MASTER AND COMMANDER" is it! Highly recommended.
(I first read "MASTER AND COMMANDER" in July 1994. Ever since, I've been hooked on the Aubrey-Maturin series.)
philosopher, above all in the Mediterranean: there are the birds, the fishes--I could promise you
some monstrous strange fishes--the natural phenomena, the meteors, the chance of prize-money.
For even Aristotle would have been moved by prize-money.... '
'A ship must be a most instructive theatre for an inquiring mind....'
'Prodigiously instructive, I do assure you, Doctor.'
-Jack Aubrey convincing Stephen Maturin to ship out with him (Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander)
Like most, I first learned of Patrick O'Brian's excellent series of naval adventures in the pages of the New York Times Book Review. There, on January 6, 1991, Richard Snow wrote that the Aubrey and Maturin books were : "...the best historical novels ever written." This statement is not as jarring now as it was then. We've grown accustomed to seeing rows of O'Brian's books on store shelves and millions have joined what was once an exclusive cult, but at the time Snow was writing the novels were still a well-kept secret, despite the fact that O'Brian had then been writing them for over twenty years. At any rate, like any good little trend-sucking dilettante, I rushed out to find the first book in the series, Master and Commander, read it as quickly as possible, and was well and truly stumped.
I liked the characters, found the detailed portrayal of life aboard ship to be extremely interesting, and enjoyed much of the humor of the book. But there was something really curious and elusive about the storytelling. In the first place, the heroes are mere observers of the climactic sea battle, having been captured earlier, which seemed especially curious for an adventure story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read the complete series in print, and I'll likely go back and read the entire series on my iPad. I've never been able to get these characters out of my head... Read morePublished 8 days ago by obsessive reader
Excellent read. Not quite as easy to read as C.S. Forester's Hormblower series, a bit too much Georian English, but well worth the effort. P.S. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Robert Davis
This is one of my favorite books (and series) ever--I've read it several times and enjoyed it more every time. Read morePublished 15 days ago by jg
Interesting book, but this is a hard read if your not a sailor.Published 16 days ago by BrokeAsAJoke
The best nautical fiction, based on historical events, with noble characters and gripping detail. I'm reading the O'Brian series for a second time to savor the story telling and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Steven Ham