Reading the other reviews reinforces the adage that you can't please all of the people all of the time. I adore this set. On a 'time stood still' tour of Iraq it was my mainstay at the end of a long day, a precious reminder of another world, of friends, Aubrey and Maturin, that were my friends too.
Let me deal firstly with the set itself. The dustjackets are gorgeous, each volume containing four novels. The volumes are smaller than the individual hardback editions that many readers will be familiar with, but I think this is due to economy of size etc. The box itself is handsome, easily the centre piece of the bookshelf it inhabits, and I have hundreds of books.
I have no comments to make on type errors etc. I think it a little churlish to dwell upon them. Consider purcasing each novel as an individual item, in either hardback or paperbook. You have the far greater cost and the amount of space such a collection would take. I wanted the complete collection in a set and I have that now. In previous readings over many years I had purchased individual books, lent them to others, mislaid them etc. The Norton collection is a permanent one.
A word, if any are needed, on the novels themselves. I have long maintained that Patrick O'Brian is one of the finest writers it has been my priviledge to encounter. He combines great knowledge of the historic period with an astute understanding of the human condition. His portrayal of the friendship between Jack and Stephen is, in my reading experience, unmatched for warmth, humour and absolute devotion to each other. Above all, it is O'Brian's literary eloquence, his employment of the right word at the right time, with humour and discerning utility, that binds the novels together. I elevate him above all my favourite authors. What a loss his departure created. Please enjoy the boxset. You won't be disappointed.