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Master and Commander Paperback – Special Edition, 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 40th Anniversary edition edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006499155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006499152
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,320 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

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. --Amazon.com

Review

‘…full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein… Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.’ James Hamilton- Paterson

‘You are in for the treat of your lives. Thank God for Patrick O’Brian: his genius illuminates the literature of the English language, and lightens the lives of those who read him.’ Kevin Myers, Irish Times

‘In a highly competitive field it goes straight to the top. A real first-rater.’ Mary Renault

‘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 depth of sympathy than the vessels he describes, a rare achievement save in the greatest writers of this genre. It deserves the widest readership.’ Irish Times


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

209 of 214 people found the following review helpful By Peter Groome on 1 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From reading the previous reviews it is apparent that this novel polarises opinions like few others, i.e. you'll either love it or hate it. People who hate it find the language archaic, "eighteenth century nautical terms scattered like confetti", the characters wooden and hard to sympathise with, and struggle to engage with the novelist. Many readers, perhaps enticed by the Russell Crowe film, will find themselves buying this book and then struggling to get beyond the first chapter. It is not easy reading, not like Sharpe, or Hornblower that you can race through, especially at the outset. However, if you like a book with a bit of substance behind it, are prepared to do a little bit of work to understand what is going on, and will give the characters room to breathe, you may just find yourself rewarded beyond expectations as a treasurehouse opens up before you.

This is the first of a series of twenty novels and you really do need to read them in sequence, (1. Master and Commander, 2. Post Captain, 3. HMS Surprise etc.),as the author tends to tell you something once and then expects you to remember it. If you start with The Far Side of the World, number ten, because of the film, you will be hopelessly adrift; nothing the characters do or say will make any sense, and the plot is very different from the film so you will not recognise what you are reading.

Start with this one then, book one and don't just skim it for the adventure story. Climb the rigging with the lubberly Dr Stephen Maturin and listen as he has explained to him the masts, yards and sails of the Sophie. After only a few pages you know the difference between the foremast and the mizzen, the stays, tops and ratlines.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Steve James on 21 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
I came at this series from a background of reading a lot of fantasy / sci-fi and Tom Clancy type adventure - all of which are easy to read and conjure up a picture in your mind.

I had two false starts on this book, where I got about 30 pages in and then gave up as the language seemed hard and the terms technical. I then made a determined effort to stick with it and finish the book and have never made a better decision in terms of reading. This is one of the best and most engaging series I have ever read and you find that, as the books unfold, various nautical terms are explained. The best idea is just to carry on reading and not worry - the plots are excellent and characterisation is second to none. I enjoyed the first reading for the story, the second for the characters and even now, on my approx 6th time through, still find new sub plots and meanings I never noticed before.

Give this series a chance and give yourself a good stretch at first read to get into it - once you do you should hopefully find, as I did, that this is one of the best series ever written - full stop - and one that can be read again and again.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 15 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
A movie that is adopted from a novel presents the eternal quandary as to whether you should read the novel before or after seeing the film. However, with the release today of "Master and Commander: The Far Side of World" you have a unique opportunity to do both. Although we have assumed this Russell Crowe film was an amalgam of the first and tenth novels in the series of twenty written by Patrick O'Brien starting in 1970, that is not the case. The film is based squarely on "The Far Side of the World," although certainly liberties have been taken with translating the work to the screen (the enemy ship is now a French vessel in 1805 durng the Napoleonic Wars instead of an American ship during the War of 1812). This means that reading "Master and Commander" before seeing the film would actually work to your advantage, because you would then understand the relationship between "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin, which begins in this first novel.
On the first of April in the year 1800 two of the most important things in his life happen to John Aubrey, Esquire. Not only is he appointed Commander of His Majesty's Sloop "Sophie," but he makes the acquaintance of Dr. Maturin. Aubrey, who is taller and broad shouldered, plays the violin, which the smaller Maturin plays the cello. Aubrey is the embodiment of an English seaman while Maturin is an absent-minded intellectual. Outside of their love of music there is little to recommend one to the other, but this is the beginning of one of the great friendships in literature. Many times we will be reminded through these books that each is the other's particular friend, and that friendship begins here.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Oct. 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
Master and Commander is excellent, and the gateway to the enormously enjoyable Aubrey and Maturin novels. It is not often that one can happen upon such a long series of superb books, so if this is your first contact with O'Brien, I envy you.
The action elements of these naval tales are fully the equal of the classic of the genre, Forester's Hornblower novels, but benefit from a less episodic style. The O'Brien series, however, is far stronger than the Hornblowers in the area of character and personal plot lines. After reading a few of them Aubrey and Maturin seem utterly real and known people, and their development through their various adventures, naval and romantic, is masterly.
At the risk of sounding sexist, these novels open up the realm of military historic fiction to a female reader (like me), and so are a rare example of quality light literature of equal appeal to both sexes.
Most highly recommended.
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