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The Yellow Admiral (Vol. Book 18) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Paperback – September 17, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

At last! Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are back as Patrick O'Brian provides his indomitably loyal fans with another adventure, this one by land as well as by sea. Lucky Jack Aubrey finds himself not so lucky as his troubles amount ashore, his prospects of admiralty dimmed and Sophie's affection waning. At sea, he fares little better: in the storms off Brest he captures a French privateer ladden with gold and ivory at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. And worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out...

Fortunately, Maturin returns from a mission in Chile with news that may help restore Aubrey to good favor with both his beloved navy and wife. Then, off to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

The Yellow Admiral is a change of pace, a reversion to the themes of the earlier novels in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Much of the story takes place on land, giving scope to O'Brian's fascination with the landscape, physical and social, of early nineteenth-century England. In vivid glimpses of various rural pursuits, and nuanced observation of politics and domestic arrangements, O'Brian proves himself ever more surely to be the heir of Jane Austen. Not to say there aren't some rousing and bloody sea-battles! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

As befits a popular and enduring fictional hero, Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy is besieged on all sides in the 18th installment of O'Brian's splendid 19th-century historical adventure series (The Commodore, etc.). Jack is fighting expensive, possibly ruinous, legal battles with slavers, as well as with rich landowners trying to enclose common lands around his family estate. He must also deal with a Navy superior with a financial interest in the enclosure, who is trying to wreck Jack's career. (If a captain becomes an admiral without a command he is "in the cant phrase... yellowed"). Jack, on blockade duty off Brittany, frets that the impending peace will indeed yellow him; and he's also in for some rough marital weather with his wife, Sophie. Meanwhile, the series' other hero, Irish-Catalan physician Stephen Maturin, who's Jack's best friend, connects in "the dark of the moon" with Chilean independence leaders who may hire Jack to head their own young navy. O'Brian is at the top of his elegant form here. He offers a wealth of sly humor (Navy officers' talk is "really not fit for mixed company because of its profoundly nautical character"), some splendid set pieces (a bare-knuckle boxing match, lively sea actions), characters who are palpably real and, as always, lapidary prose. This is splendid storytelling from a true master. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 18)
  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393317048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393317046
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,634 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

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Maginot on October 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The Yellow Admiral" is one of the less interesting of the Aubrey/Maturin series, although it has its merits. This novel takes place mainly on shore, and as usual, Jack Aubrey's life is more complicated and beset with more problems here than when he is at sea.
The biggest problem in Aubrey's life is the probability of being "yellowed". The rank of an admiral in the Royal Navy is denoted by color. For example, an Admiral of the Blue has higher rank and responsibility than an Admiral of the White. In some cases, however, an officer is promoted to the rank of admiral for ceremonial purposes only, but is effectively decommissioned. When this happens, he is referred to as an Admiral of the Yellow, or one who is "yellowed". With Napoleon facing imminent defeat and peace on the horizon, Aubrey faces the strong prospect of himself being yellowed. To make matters worse, Aubrey opposes the enclosure movement in his district even after his commanding officer, Lord Stranraer, urges him to support it. And just when things could not get worse, Aubrey's wife discovers his old correspondence with a former mistress and throws him out of the house.
Things are not going well for Stephen Maturin either, since he is isolated from his fortune and temporarily destitute. But in a rare turn of events, he appears to enjoy a tranquil domestic life with his tempestuous, capricious wife, Diana. In fact, it is a rare twist in this series to see Aubrey financially secure but romantically distraught while Maturin, for a change is emotionally contented, but utterly impoverished.
If you are a fan of this series or a lover of history then you will enjoy this book. It has an enormous amount to teach us about life in England and in the British navy during the Napoleonic wars.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Doug Briggs on July 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Yellow Admiral is as good as any of the previous 17 Aubrey/Maturin novels: as good as novels get. It has occurred to me, and not for the first time as I have read and reread the entire series and observed the whole cast of characters mature, that what we call the Aubrey/Maturin series is really one very long book with eighteen chapters.
One can read the Holmes/Watson books in any order; the characters never change, and I don't recall references by Doyle to previous events, such as those backwards glimpses O'Brian slyly slips to us steady fans from time to time that must sail right over the heads of hit-and-run readers.
With not a molecule of discredit to her genius intended, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot remained the same character through 25 stories, and I'm not aware of any maturation of Miss Jane Marple. Of course, Agatha Christie probably felt that her readers preferred the familiarity that the sameness of characters provided.
What gives me the feat tha! ! t The Yellow Admiral might be the final Aubrey/Maturin episode? Diana never once jumps the traces; Jack mends all his fences at home; Sir Joseph Blaine is very much back in control in his seemingly obscure but influential position with "the Committee;" and Stephen has lived through a volume without a crisis. Then, just as Jack Aubrey has gotten used to the idea of building the Chileans a navy, while on a little respite in Funchal, Madeira, with his family and almost everyone else dear to him, he receives an urgent dispatch from Lord Keith of the Admiralty, advising him that Napoleon has escaped from Elba. Writes Keith: "You are to take all His Majesty's ships and vessels at present in Funchal under your command, hoisting your broad pennant in 'Pamone,' and . . .
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 1996
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who have avidly followed the exploits and conversations of O'Brian's remarkable characters, "The Yellow Admiral"
is a disappointment. Just as the Napoleonic wars have gone flat in this episode, so, too, has the world Aubrey and Maturin. For the first
time I had the feeling that the author was uncertain where to take the tale. Perhaps the characters have now grown too much within themselves
and thus find very little that is fresh in their world. In any event, in this story the sheer joy of life and discovery, and the thrill of
competence that is theirs at sea, is gone, gone, gone. Sour elder middle-age seems to have taken their place.

For those who have followed this series, of course, "The Yellow Admiral" is a must read. But were it not for the long association with
these characters, I would have found the book tedious, undirected, and boring.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Zecon on January 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
The most important aspects of this story takes place on dry land in England. Patrick O'Brien paints the tapestry of 19th century rural life in terms that makes it relevant to the story and breathes life into it that it becomes personalized and completely relevant. It also is this time ashore that makes the adventures at sea so much more interesting for Jack and Stephen. It is the complexity of the characters dealing with their successes and trials at home which make the two main characters seem that much more human. Developing characters that are seemingly real is what Patrick O'Brien has mastered like no other and it is what has kept me coming back to his books (18 times so far).

Back ashore in England, Stephen is broke and Jack is once again an impecunious landowner. Jack's fortune is tied up in lawsuits related to his actions off West Africa suppressing the slave trade. To make matters worse (or more interesting), Jack's marriage is on the rocks as a result of Sophie's mother finding evidence of Jack's past infidelity. At the Admiralty, Jack's prospects are dimmed by his actions as a Member of Parliament and his opposition to the enclosure of a commons near his estate. As a side note, Patrick O'Brien clearly understands and has the ability to describe the political and economic aspects of enclosing a commons. He weaves this into the story without technical jargon and in an interesting manner. Even at sea, Jack has trouble. He captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but the Admiralty believes that he ignored signals for personal gain. Troubles mount for Jack and his fear of being `yellowed' seems that it might become a reality.
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