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The Reverse of the Medal (Vol. Book 11) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Kindle Edition
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This number 11 installment is mainly on land but contains one of the longest chase sequences in all of the series so far. This is a great example of the playful structure O Brian utilizes like a painter applying meaning to a canvass. I love when the story goes on land for awhile, its necessary to make the already complex character development work even better. This volume falls into the experimental category --like h.m.s. surprise--and fortune of war. Experimental in that is stands alone apart from segwaying from another volume. While the whole series is essentially one long story some of the volumes explore the human condition deeper than just being at sea and battling other ships can do. This one gets dark in that Jack is being set up and appears to be in the process of military disgrace and possibly jail time. Like H.M.S. surprise Steven takes over the spotlight with Jack in jail. Sure its a little depressing but still has the constant comedic wit. I love how even when he is not at sea his rugged crew literally lives with him (or key member like Killick and Bonden. So back to O'Brien style--he knows its going to get heavy so thats why he makes literally 1/3 of the book a chase--or the first part of the book. Being that there is 21 and this is only the 11th im sure jack and company with get out of this bind.I cant wait to see.
It is perhaps bewildering that Aubrey, who is such a lion at sea is such a helpless babe ashore. This almost child-like trust (along with the political turmoil created by his father) is the root of the plot. Aubrey's willingness to trust his fellow officers also plays into the turmoil as he reflects, "True, I have spent less time on shore than most men, and few have had such luck; but I was suprised to find how much jealousy it had caused. I had no idea I had so many enemies, or at least ill-wishers in the service." It is painful, therefore to see a character (as flawed as he is) to be so humbled and publically humiliated.
O'Brian is never one to close a door without leaving another open, however. While _The Reverse of the Medal_ concludes with a rabbit-punch to the kidney, there is a glimmer of hope that things will be made right, and our hero will once again return to sea. This lifeline (as one would expect) is in the form of Dr. Maturin, whose secret life as an intelligence operative provides some context and (I hope) some opportunity for redemption. Perhaps most frustrating of all, the story concludes as a virtual cliff-hanger. I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to wait years for the next installment to be written. Highly recommended reading.