- Paperback: 411 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393307050
- ISBN-13: 978-0393307054
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 921 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Master and Commander Paperback – August 17, 1990
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The opening salvo of the Aubrey-Maturin epic, in which the surgeon introduces himself to the captain by driving an elbow into his ribs during a chamber-music recital. Fortunately for millions of readers, the two quickly make up. Then they commence one of the great literary voyages of our century, set against an immaculately-detailed backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. This is the place to start--and in all likelihood, you won't be able to stop.
“My hero is Patrick O'Brian…I read all of his books many, many times. I’ve read them so many times I can’t read them anymore because eventually you know the whole book by heart.”
- David Mamet, New York Magazine
“The best historical novels ever written.”
- Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review
“Taken as a whole, the Aubrey-Maturin novels are by a long shot the best things of their kind…they are uniquely excellent.”
- Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review
“There are two types of people in the world: Patrick O’Brian fans, and people who haven’t read him yet.”
- Lucy Eyre, The Guardian
“[The series shows] a joy in language that jumps from every page…you're in for a wonderful voyage.”
- Cutler Durkee, People
“One does not get many pages into the Aubrey-Maturin sequence before falling under the spell of O'Brian's prose, which is…elegantly paced, quietly witty.”
- Katherine A. Powers, Atlantic Monthly
“If Jane Austen had written rousing sea yarns, she would have produced something very close to the prose of Patrick O'Brian.”
“O'Brian is a novelist, pure and simple, one of the best we have.”
- Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A world of enchanting fictional surfaces.”
- John Bayley, New York Review of Books
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In other words, O'Brian writes life. I can't give a better recommendation than that. Nailing him down as a sea-story guy or a history guy is a mistake. He writes friendships and hatred, hope and fear, and all the reasons and ways that we suffer and rejoice in little events and big. Read it.
I only gave this first volume four stars because as others have mentioned it is a bit slow, in the beginning, as there are so many characters that need to be introduced, along with some background to give them context, and a lot of historical information necessary for the reader to understand the time and place in which series occurs.
Once the stage is set and the action begins it's a fast paced runaway that you won't want to put down, so bear with the introduction and then get to the fun!
It's Naval history, brought to life, by an author who's attention to detail and accuracy is unsurpassed by any and matched only by a very few. Blend that with his ability to pull you right into the story, until you will have trouble returning to reality when you put the book down, and you can't go wrong with O'Brian.
It's an historical fiction novel, written in 1969. The setting is early 1800's seafaring, aboard an English naval sailing vessel. Life at that time and situation was unique--harder, different customs and knowledge, etc. The period dialog and humor could be quite salty but really immersed me. The book was perfect reading on Kindle, where I could highlight a historical reference and have it explained instantly, depending on proximity to wireless. Then there were the sea terms and references to parts of the ships. Again, Kindle to the rescue. Also, the reader is educated on sailing technique by experts (characters explaining to other characters.) The author really knows early 1800's without showing off.
People are still only just people. This is still only a novel about characters, and Patrick O'Brian was skillful with his characters. From page one, we get to know these characters through conversations, through private diary entries, and through dialog between lesser characters.
A great story, and well-written.