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July 11, 2014

Let us now praise Patrick O'Brian, author of "Master and Commander"


I was only introduced to this author and his 20-volume series of books beginning with "Master and Commander," featuring British ship captain Jack Aubrey and his ever-present companion, Dr. Stephen Maturin, a couple months ago.

I'd never read a seafaring tale before and thought I'd have no interest in these: boy, was I wrong.

I'm currently reading the seventh in the series as slowly as I can so as to make them last as long as possible; I'm totally enmeshed and enthralled; I wish there were 2,000 of them so I could read them for the rest of my life.

Apparently I'm not alone in my high regard: The Times of London called him "The greatest historical novelist of all time."

I only just learned that Russell Crowe played Captain Aubrey in a 2003 film based on the series.

Clearly, I need to get out more.

July 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


Love the O'Brian series, and enjoyed reading the books the second time as much as the first. It helps when you live near where some of the naval battles depicted took place (off the Massachusetts coast) and can visit one of the original cast members - Old Ironsides. You should get over to Maryland and find a windjammer (schooners rigged for carrying paid passengers on overnight trips - the boats attract the kind of people who want to help crew the boat). I also highly recommend Harbors and High Seas: An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels, and Sea of Words (a lexicon).

Posted by: MysteryMan | Jul 14, 2014 12:43:27 PM


Thanks for the heads-up on Dewey Lambdin's Alan Lewrie series. Have read the Hornblower books and the Jack Aubrey series. The sample of 'The King's Coat' even shows a 32-point wind compass with sailset at different points.

Posted by: antares | Jul 13, 2014 1:27:50 AM

If you liked this series check out a similar but superior seafaring saga by "Dewey Lambdin". I promise you will like it better or money back! The ongoing series has about 17 books featuring a totally likable and rakish Englishman named Alan Lewrie, from his youth and onward. You are welcome!

Posted by: Ed | Jul 12, 2014 6:01:32 PM

I envy you as well. I try to discipline myself not to read too fast, so these books covered 1996 to 1999 for me.

And 15 years later the visuals remain with me: Ponto, Diana, the fate of the Wakzamheid (sp??), missing the Crozets, only to get stuck in the Kerguelens, the sudden end of many characters (Mr. West and Harabedian) stick with me the most, the captain who got cannonballs rolled at him, and so on.

I won't tell you my favorite book ... but I think it's safe to say you're on a long plateau where a bunch will be just as good as the last one.

Posted by: Dave Tufte | Jul 12, 2014 12:28:22 PM

Like! +1

Posted by: Diana | Jul 11, 2014 8:49:12 PM

Jack Aubrey is a fictionalized version of Edward Pellew. When you read the exploits of Edward Pellew, you realize that Patrick O'Brian was more a reporter than a writer.

Posted by: antares | Jul 11, 2014 4:57:54 PM

I envy you. I read them all years ago. The movie is great too....

Posted by: Lloyd Alter | Jul 11, 2014 12:35:27 PM

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