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

4.5 out of 5 stars 168 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 (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,214 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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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
After returning from years at sea, in the East Indies, Botany Bay, the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, the Peruvian coast and Cape Horn--during which Aubrey freed an old servant of Dr. Maturin from imprisonment and unwittingly took on a stowaway from Botany Bay, frustrated an attempt by a prototypical communist to set up an "ideal" government which would have been inimical to British interests in the Sandwich Islands, and a failed attempt by Dr. Maturin (a British intelligence agent) to free Peru from the Spanish influence--as well as encountering terminal storms, volcanic eruptions, encounters with icebergs, pirates and other enemy ships, in the last book (The Wine Dark Sea); our heroes, Dr, Stephen Maturin and Captain Jack Aubrey finally arrive back in England in this, the 17th book of the 20 book Aubrey/Maturin series.

However, all is not well. Aubrey's wife, Sophie, suspects him of having an affair with the stowaway, Mrs. Oakes, although he is innocent. He, in turn, suspects her of having an affair with the local parson, who pursued her before their marriage. Stephen finds his wife, Diana, gone to parts unknown, and his girl child whom he has never seen, is suspected of being an idiot.

Jack is given a new command, promoted to Commodore, and embarks on an effort to stop the slave trade out of Africa, as well as to frustrate a French squadron from interfering in Ireland.

No one knows square-rigged ships as well as the late Patrick O'Brian, the author. His 19th century sea battles are often taken directly from British Admiralty records, but more than that his dialogues are replete with period expressions and turns of phrase that add greatly to his stories. What magnificent stories!
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Format: Paperback
Patrick O'Brian's "The Commodore" is the seventeenth book in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. The Aubrey-Maturin books are quite simply the best fiction I've ever read. I enjoy them so much that I find it difficult to read any other fiction now.

Although there are twenty (completed) Aubrey-Maturin novels, in a sense they are one long, unending story. O'Brian tells the story of an unlikely pair of friends in early 19th century Britain: a hard-charging Royal Navy captain and an Irish physician and naturalist (and British spy). Both are devoted, for different reasons, to the fight against Napoleonic France. Captain Jack Aubrey and Doctor Stephen Maturin are dedicated friends, and the interplay between this unlikely pair is ranges from deep philosophical discussions to intended and unintended humor.

But what really makes these novels is Patrick O'Brian's writing style. Through his words, he paints wonderful pictures and creates real characters in brilliant narratives; which is good, because Aubrey and many of his exploits are based on real-life adventures during the Napoleonic Wars.

In "The Commodore," Aubrey leads a fleet of Royal Navy ships to the coast of Africa to interdict the slave trade. Aubrey has to deal with the internal problems of his fleet while also leading a successful campaign against African traders. Finally, Aubrey leads the fleet north to stop a French invasion of Ireland. This is a fabulous book, but I recommend that everyone with any interest in historical fiction or the Royal Navy read the entire series in order.
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