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The Wine-Dark Sea (Vol. Book 16) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Paperback – October 17, 1994


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Frequently Bought Together

The Wine-Dark Sea (Vol. Book 16)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) + The Commodore (Vol. Book 17)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) + The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15)
Price for all three: $39.04

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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 16)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312447
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this installment of O'Brian's maritime epic, Captain Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise are pursuing an American privateer through the Great South Sea. As is his custom, O'Brian grabs your attention with the first, beautifully memorable sentence: "A purple ocean, vast under the sky and devoid of all visible life apart from two minute ships racing across its immensity." And he doesn't relinquish it until 260 pages later, by which point Jack Aubrey is delighted at the mere fact of being alive.

From Publishers Weekly

Though the Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin books can be profitably read separately, as fans know, together they read as one long, wonderful novel. This 16th installment (following The Truelove ) is no doubt the best chapter yet. In the early 1800s, Bluff Jack, captain of the privateer Surprise , steers his frigate across the Pacific to South America, around Cape Horn and into the Atlantic, taking French and American prizes, fighting off a Yankee Man of War and suffering dire eye and leg wounds for his trouble. Subtle Stephen, ship's doctor and British intelligence agent, almost pulls off a coup in Peru and must escape across the Andes, losing some toes to frostbite for his efforts. Favorite characters reappear here: Killick, Jack's crabby steward; Sarah and Emily Sweeting, precocious Melanesian waifs attached to Maturin's sick-berth; Sam, Jack's illegitimate black son and rising Churchman. The naval actions are bang-on and bang-up--fast, furious and bloody--and the Andean milieu is as vivid as the shipboard scenes. As usual, readers can revel in the symbiotic friendship of Jack and Stephen, who make for a marvelous duo, whether in their violin and cello duets or in their sharp dialogue. If O'Brian hasn't quite had a break-out book yet, then this deserves to be it. 40,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

These books are the best in historical fiction.
Roy B.
I say this because the odds are you have not read O'Brian before, if you had, you would scarcely need a recommendation for a book in the middle of the series.
Stephen P. Kemp
Great story, deep character development, excellent pacing.
Michael Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I once had a creative writing instructor who insisted all ofhis students read one of O'Brian's novels to learn what truly superiorwriting was all about. I chose The Wine-Dark Sea and am I glad I did. O'Brian is truly a master! The Wine-Dark Sea opens with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin in pursuit of an American privateer sailing the South Sea. The British, already engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, have made the mistake of also blundering into war with a young upstart, the United States. Maturin, in the Wine-Dark Sea, desires to relieve the pressure on the British government by inciting the revolutionaries of South America, more specifically, Peru. O'Brian, a master storyteller, also has a sharp eye for detail. His descriptions of the landscape, the sea, life on board the midgit man-of-war and even the Andes are no doubt the best in all of literature. The spine-tingling barbarity and bloody battle scenes are so real, they'll make you glad you're only reading a book (although the writing is so good you may forget that at times)! I really can't praise O'Brian highly enough. He is both artist and perfect craftsman and beside him, most authors rapidly pale. If you love the sea, if you love adventure, if you just love a good book, you absolutely can't go wrong with The Wine-Dark Sea or any of O'Brian's other novels. All of them are just perfect. END
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joseph H Pierre on May 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Another incomparable tale by that master of sea stories, the late Patrick O'Brian. Part of the Aubrey/Maturin series, this one follows the book "The Truelove," which led His Majesty's Hired Vessel "Surprise" to the Hawaiian (Sandwich) Islands to protect British whaling interests there, which were threatened by a pioneer of communism, Monsieur Dutourd, who was endeavoring to set up his own idealistic society there at the expense of British interests.

As this book starts, Dutourd's ship, the "Franklin," is being pursued by Aubrey in the "Surprise," on a strange, wine-colored sea in unusual weather. Soon the reason for the strange sea and weather becomes evident as an erupting volcano causes damage to both ships. The story revolves around British intelligence agent Dr. Maturin's attempt to influence political events in Peru, several battles at sea with the concomitant taking of prizes, battle with a pirate, deaths and injuries in battle, and the nearly deadly struggle of Dr. Maturin's medical assistant, the Rev. Martin, with his conscience.

No one knew nautical lore and the square-rigged vessels of the Napoleonic era (ca. 1800) as well as Patrick O'Brian. Many of his sea battles are taken directly from the annals of the British Admiralty, and his dialogue is replete with period expressions that lend even greater authenticity to his tales.

I recommend that a newcomer to this series start with "Master and Commander," the first book of the series. Untold hours of pleasure await you. ...
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen P. Kemp on July 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Why would I recommend not reading this book? The answer is simple; I urge you to start at the beginning and buy Master and Commander, the first book. I say this because the odds are you have not read O'Brian before, if you had, you would scarcely need a recommendation for a book in the middle of the series. No, if you had read O'Brian before you would have either decided not to read more or as so many have before you, would have read the series, devouring one book after another in the order they were intended to be read. The Wine-Dark Sea is a section of one of the greatest examples of nautical fiction ever written, don't deny yourself the joy of watching these characters grow and develop over the course of the opus.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, having sailed off on a combination privateering and intelligence mission in the SURPRISE back in the twelfth novel in the saga, finally are nearly home again -- and this is installment number sixteen! It's hard to believe, too, that after so many volumes, with at least one circumnavigation and any number of roundings of Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, we find Britain still embroiled in what we in the States refer to as the War of 1812. And what a journey this book narrates, from the witnessing of a new volcanic island and capture of a most irregular privateer in the mid-Pacific, to anxious flight through the Andes by mule and llama, to yet another encounter with ice-islands in the south Atlantic. Although the plotting seems thin at times and lacking in useful details, the narration is as adroit as ever, especially in the author's patented style of understatement. Not his best work by far, but very much worth reading.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Richmond VINE VOICE on June 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O'Brian
There are few prose stylists writing today who can compare with Patrick O'Brian for the smooth, evocative and fluid stories which come from his pen. This book, a particularly fine example of O'Brian's craft, is part of his Aubrey/Maturin series of sea-faring novels. Sailor Jack Aubrey, while a typically crusty man of the blue briny, is also a well-read and witty contrast and companion to Doctor Stephen Maturin, an erudite physician with a huge love of the sea. Together, the two have had many adventures, but in The Wine-Dark Sea, they face some of their greatest challenges ever with remarkable spirit and aplomb. The story here is great entertainment with lots of page-turning action, but the lush writing is simply seductive and so easy to become lost and quite "at sea" within. While these are often consider "men's books," I strongly suspect that many women would be attracted to the strong plots, grand characterization, and fine writing; there is never the least hint of the crude or the coarse in these highly literate, but so readable novels. I have often suggested the works of Patrick O'Brian to writing students as a model for crisp, fresh, lively prose and most highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a great read.
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