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H. M. S. Surprise (Aubrey / Maturin) Paperback – May 17, 1991
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Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As H. M. S. Surpries opens, political machinations cost Jack his prize money (earned in the previous book0, and Stephen's cover in Spain is blown. As a result, and also because Stephen is scheming to see his lover Diana again (who has been taken by her keeper Richard Canning to India), Jack takes command of the aged frigate H.M.S. Surprise, and is sent to Cambodia (stopping in India) to deliver the new British envoy to the Sultan of Kampong.
Thus the setup for a long, wonderful, account of the voyage to the Orient and back. The pleasures of this book are remarkably varied: high comedy, such as the famous drunken sloth incident; high adventure, as the men of the Surprise battle not only the South Atlantic at its fiercest, but also the French; and bitter disappointment and even tragedy, in Stephen's seesaw relationship with Diana, as well as Stephen's involvement with a young Indian girl.
The pleasures of this book, however, are not restricted to a fine plot. The ongoing development of the characters of Jack and Stephen, and of their complex and fully described friendship, is a major achievement. In addition, the many minor characters are fascinating: the envoy Mr.Read more ›
H.M.S. Surprise is the best of the early series. We get adventure: a daring rescue of Stephen by Jack, a brilliant sea maneuver led by the Surprise on the Indian Ocean. We get a novel of manners: Maturin's and Aubrey's continued wooing of Diana Villiers and Sophia Williams. We get a marvelous frigate and her crew - O'Brian's depiction of the Surprise is a microcosm of the world at the time of Napoleon. And my, the Surprise is yar!
Some of my friends have expressed surprise (pun intended, and Aubrey would love it!) that a feminist landlubber would admire the same series that Charlton Heston and other manly men have loved before me. My response is that great writing is enough. There are few female characters in Aubrey/Maturin, and those that O'Brian includes are not particularly sympathetic (although I can imagine every actress alive wanting to play Diana Villiers), but it doesn't matter when I feel as much a part of the crew as Pullings or Bonden.
When you get down to it, Patrick O'Brian is just a great writer. At moments I have been reminded of Melville, Austen, and Robertson Davies. His grasp of the technical is thorough. His ability to share the historical feeling of the period is amazing.Read more ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love the movie and started reading the books, might get technical help book to fully understand the terminology.Published 1 month ago by skip
All of the elements that make O'Brian so enjoyable are here, in spades. There are volumes written by other reviewers that detail the plot points, character development, etc. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Linda Barnett
The story is set in the time of Bonaparte. Captain Aubrey of the British Navy must fight the French Navy with a small British frigate. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael Crawford