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Blue at the Mizzen: Unabridged (Soundings) Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Nov 1999

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Soundings Ltd (Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860426840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860426841
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 17 x 5.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,754,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick O'Brian, until his death in 2000, was one of our greatest contemporary novelists. He is the author of the acclaimed Aubrey-Maturin tales and the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He is the author of many other books including Testimonies, and his Collected Short Stories. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime's contribution to literature. In the same year he was awarded the CBE. In 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He lived for many years in South West France and he died in Dublin in January 2000.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Why do the sea-faring adventure novels of Patrick O'Brian enjoy such a phenomenally devoted readership? Actually, O'Brian enthusiasts can take their pick from a variety of qualities of excellence: The sheer command of writing technique; the adroit characterisation of his heroes, every bit as rich and well-rounded as anything in serious fiction; and, of course, the bracingly-realised atmosphere of the sea on which the author sets his tales of derring-do. The latest volume, Blue at the Mizzen, represents an even greater refinement of O'Brian's art.

His long-time protagonist Jack Aubrey is about to achieve his ambition. Unusually, his finances are in good order and his professional life is ship-shape. But as he reaches the upper echelons of the Captain's list, his prospects of gaining that final promotion are in the balance. In the powder-keg revolutionary atmosphere of South America, his shipmate Stephen Maturin is coming to terms with the loss of his wife by throwing himself into the intelligence work he so enjoys. Both men become involved in a series of labyrinthine intrigues, splendidly punctuated by the action that O'Brian delivers so well. And the writing is as non-pareil as ever:

"Then came the repeated broadsides: this was not the dumb show of usual practice at divisions, but the shattering din of battle, the flashing stabs of fire, the shriek of each gun's very dangerous recoil, the heady scent of powder-smoke along the decks."
Blue at the Mizzen is a treat for lovers of O'Brian and a perfect introduction for those who have not yet read him. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


’If we had only two or three of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, we would count ourselves lucky; with six or seven the author would be safely among the greats of historical fiction… This is great writing by an undiminished talent. Now on to Volume Twenty, and the liberation of Chile.’ WILLIAM WALDEGRAVE, Literary Review

'I never enjoyed a novel about the sea more. It is not only that the author describes the handling of a ship of 1800 with an accuracy that is as comprehensible as it is detailed, a remarkable feat in itself. Mr O'Brian's three chief characters are drawn with no less sympathy that the vessels he describes, a rare achievement save in the greatest of writers of this genre. It deserves the widest readership.' Irish Times

--This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on 4 Nov. 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you have not read Master and Commander, O'Brian's first novel in the Aubrey/Maturin sequence, a fresh and surprising mix of naval engagement, medical practice, fine observations, and comic situations, which seemed to dart out in all directions, and assault the senses as much as any novel can, describing fear and bloodlust, famine and feasts, alongside musical appreciation, and an extensive knowledge of natural history, then I envy you , for it is a treat, as are its many sequels. Some may not share O'Brian's taste for the very, very long opening sentence, and others may find his flair for detail a little too rich. Whatever, the twentieth instalment has arrived, and if his readerrs are numerically few, they make up for it in loyalty. The loyalty is hard earned for the stories handle so many characters, so many changes of pace, or should we say, tack, so well. Jack and Stephen often share a cause, and their lives would be incomplete without each other. The friendship is viewed from both sides; sides which combine admiration and respect and a shared love of music with little understanding or much in common. This could be a description of a marriage and few writers do it better. Only dedicated fans are likely to have read this far, and are only reading as a poor substitute until the real dope arrives. The dust jacket of the present volume lists the familiar strengths: "There is brilliant narrative technique; there is richness and variety of characterisation; there is action..." All true, O'Brian's sesnse of craft is still fine. LIke the crew of the Ringle, under William Reade, who is not confident of his sermonising skills, and so sticks to the Articles of War on Sundays, the audience is in for more of the same.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Harman on 22 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This wouldn't have been the end of the series - O'Brian has left us with some rough work on the 21st novel, but, as the title suggests, Jack does finally become a Blue Admiral in the last page or 2. This means are left with a sense of closure. This novel is back on form after the relatively disappointing 'The Hundred Days', written when the author had recently lost his wife.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Prince on 18 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a late-comer to this series and grateful that I was able to avoid the wait between novels of those readers whose reading was contemporary with the writing.
In Blue at the Mizzen, there's a distinct sense of weariness. O'Brian was nearing the end of his own life by the time this was written and perhaps his joy in his creation was waning?
Although the engagements of earlier novels were not the central element they were dealt with in a manner that contributed to the stories and to the characters. They had an element of uncertainty in their outcome and that gave the reader a reason to turn the page, to find out just what the outcome might be.
In this novel, O'Brian resorts to an artifice that he'd on occasion previously used to fill passages that might otherwise suffer from too much detail; the serial letter home or Dr Maturin's intelligence reports.
O'Brian had used these letters to précis uneventful sea-passages where some explanation of the time-elapsed needed some coverage.
However, in this novel these letters and reports become the main means of telling central and important parts of the narrative.
I cannot find it in my heart to condemn the author for this. The vitality of his characters seems to have diminished, so too have the either the author's powers or his enthusiasm for his creation and I cannot blame him after so long and so many words.
It's fitting in a way that we are left with Aubrey having gained the much desired pennant, Maturin a woman better matched to his temperament and enthusiasms, without having to see them both slip into maudlin old-age.
I found the tone of this last full novel fitting in that it didn't leave me wanting more, unlike every one of the preceding number.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By NickR on 20 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading the series for the third time, and am bereft. How can these people, these friends I know so well, just fade out of existence? I've watched them grow and age, or thought I had. Is that all they ever really were, lifeless dots of ink on a lifeless page?

PS: my five stars are for the series. Sadly, PO'B's powers were waning by the time he wrote this book. But still, I could have wished him to go on for ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Peter Landon on 20 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read little else over the last 12 - 18 months other than this almost magical series of books, I fear that I shall have withdrawal symptoms once I have read the last book. What a wonderful author giving such an insight into the life and times, especially aboard ship, in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. It is, though, a pity that the Kindle dictionary is simply not up to the job of explaining or defining many of the old English words used. Again, in Kindle it is difficult when trying to learn about the various sails and their locations and then to try to look at the diagrams etc. at the 'front' of the book - would have been much easier in a hard copy edition! Notwithstanding the criticism of the electronic version, this whole series of books is truly outstanding and have given me much pleasure, interest and learning since I started to read Book 1. No wonder Patrick O'Brian received so many accolades, prizes and awards in recognition of his outstanding knowledge of the period and his style and writing skill. I recommend the whole series but whilst each story is stand alone, reading them in chronological order adds real value to the reading experience.
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