42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2000
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
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2000
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.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2001
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. ...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 1999
This was my introduction to Patrick O'Brian's work. While it begins a bit slowly, the pace quickens soon after as it thrusts Stephen Maturin into some death-defying intrigue and danger amidst the grandeur of the Andes Mountains. I tend to prefer O'Brian when he ventures onto land most of the time anyway, so this was a real treat. Some day (probably after he has left us) Patrick will achieve massive critical acclaim, the media rushing to heap credit on itself for having "discovered" a great writer. Until then, why not beat them to it and acquire the O'Brian taste now! Be sure to pick up A Sea of Words for reference, especially if you are (like me) in the dark when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of nautical adventure.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2000
"The Wine Dark Sea" is a slightly misleading title for this exciting continuation of the Aubrey/Maturin books. Much of it takes place on land, in Peru and the Andes to be exact, and those parts are wonderfully written as well as exciting. The nautical sections of this novel, while also thrilling, are really a continuation of the previous book "The Truelove" to such an extent that they could almost function as one novel! Characters are aboard whose motivations and actions will be mysteries to those who haven't read the previous installment in this series.
To those familiar with Patrick O'Brian's previous stories, "The Wine Dark Sea" will not disappoint! Just don't start here if you're not...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 1996
Here is O'Brian's continuation of this great series. Now
returning from almost certain disaster in the Pacific isles,
Aubrey and Maturin are once again aboard HMV Suprise, now
owned by Capt. Aubrey. They journey back to So. America as
Dr. Maturin trys to overthrow Spainish rule in Peru. Caught
in the politics of this country Dr. Maturin almost losses
his life in a series of adventures in the Andes. Then the
final battle at Cape Horn as Surprise battles the American
naval force sent to accompany U.S. whalers on their way
to the Pacific Ocean. Another gripping adventure in a series
now considered the finest of its kind.
As an avid reader of every author in this gendre I welcome
any inquiries about books of the Napoleonic, Revolutionary
and War of 1812 concerning British naval fiction.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"The Wine-Dark Sea" is the immediate precursor to "The Commodore", chronicling the final exploits in the Surprise's mission to the Pacific and the west coast of Spanish America. Aubrey chases a French privateer, the Franklin, commanded by a wealthy Frenchman, Dutourd, an early advocate of communism, that has seized several British merchantmen in the South Pacific. Imprisoned aboard Surprise, Dutourd tries to befriend both Aubrey and Maturin, but is rebuffed by both. Aubrey transfers him back to the Franklin, but Dutourd escapes and hides unseen aboard Surprise, which is taking Maturin to the West Coast of South America. There he will be reunited with Aubrey's illegimate African son, Sam Panda, a local Roman Catholic priest. Maturin tries to forment a revolt amongst some of the local clergy and military against the Spanish monarchy, but before the revolt can commence, he is warned by others that Dutourd has escaped from the Surprise. The revolt is cancelled. Maturin must undertake a perilous trek across the Andes, suffering severe frostbite, before he is reunited with his shipmates. Aboard Franklin, Aubrey leads his crew in a desperate struggle against a French pirate warship. This is yet another exciting installment in the Aubrey-Maturin series, and among the most suspenseful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2001
As usual, I came into this particular series amidships-but no matter, all and any of the books are wonderful, either individually or in seriatim...O'Brian, like Dickens has an extraordinary ear for speech, as well as a painters eye for landscape and detail. The hermetic and complete world he recreates differs from Dickens in one staggering detail: for the most part his predecessor, except for the "Historical Novels" wrote of what he knew and saw, O'Brian builds his lifelike Universe out of what must be one of the Century's great imaginations. Reader beware: this is a powerfully addictive novel and series.