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H. M. S. Surprise (Aubrey / Maturin) Paperback – Illustrated, May 17, 1991
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From the Publisher
― E. O. Wilson, Boston Globe
"Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars."
― James Hamilton-Paterson, New Republic
"A first-rate tale of the sea…I read it with absorption and satisfaction."
― Robertson Davies
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (May 17, 1991)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 379 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393307611
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393307610
- Item Weight : 13.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #158,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Read all of them - you'll learn more history than most college courses teach.
Find book 1 in the series; "Master and Commander", and you will be off on a wonderful journey that will last for another 19 books. What Joy.
O'Brian is no "Boys own Journal" Hornblower writer. The man was (sadly he has passed away) a true raconteur and a caster of spells, you will not be reading of a time and of wonderful personalities, you will be living the time and meeting and knowing the characters.
You are to be envied for, if this is truly your introduction to the world of Aubrey and Maturin you are in for a magical journey that will last you a very long time.
Who knows, one day you too may start your sixth reading of the 20 volumes.
Thanks to some intervention by his good friend and surgeon, Stephen Maturin, he is given command of HMS Surprise, a small frigate which Jack served on as a young midshippman. Jack is charged with the task of protecting the East-India fleet from destruction and confication by the French.
His job takes him to the great India subcontinent, and the rich sights and smells that go with it. Along the way we see an amazing storm at sea, the damage that can be inflicted on a ship and her crew while rounding Cape Horn, an amazing act of surgery performed by Stephen Maturin.
The final battle that pits "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, the Surprise and a vastly outgunned fleet of ships against the far superior French forces. The story more is clear, fast paced, and exciting. Just like Jack now commands a ship he knew is his youth, HMS Surprise moves along at a comfortable enjoyable pace as O'Brian comes into his element at writing great stories.
The story is exciting, fun to read, and the characters are truly interesting and well developed. As anyone who is interested in 19th century "ships of the line", naval history, or just love a great story, this book is sure to please.
Top reviews from other countries
But as ever, the joy of the long Aubrey / Maturin series is in the relationship between the characters - Aubrey and Maturing of course, but a host of others too
Great for an adventure in the age of sail.
I didn't think it was quite as good as master and commander but still well worth a read.
Sadly most of this generation of writers have shuffled off their moral coils at this stage. However, by sheer chance, I came across Patrick O'Brian at a time when I was short of something to read, so I gave him a chance. I'm so glad I did! O'Brian's novels are metriculously researched, have a story line that is credible and are written in a style appropriate to their temporal setting. It is exceptionally difficult to single out one volume, such as "HMS Surprise" from the twenty or so other brilliantly written novels, within a series, other than to say that they are all superb, exemplary and can stand on their own as individual novels in their own right or be read sequentially as a complete corpus magnum.
So, if there are still any blithering buffoons like myself, who believed English fiction to have died in 1918, then just give "HMS Surprise" a perusal if you are short of time; read the whole series if you're not. I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised by this brilliant body of work. It has taken an Irishman, writing about the Royal Navy some two hundred years after the events described, which has changed my views about English writing completely. My only complaint is that I didn't find them earlier. I recommend O'Brian without any reservations whatsoever.