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The Frigate Surprise: The Design, Construction and Careers of Jack Aubrey's Favourite Command [Hardcover]

Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 30.00
Price: 26.18 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 Nov 2008
There is no more famous a vessel in naval fiction than HMS Surprise, the principal ship in Patrick O'Brian's much-celebrated Aubrey-Maturin series of sea stories. Yet, this 28-gun frigate also had a most eventful true historical career serving in both the French and then Royal navies and which included capture by the Inconstant in 1796 the much celebrated cutting-out action on the mutinous crew of HMS Hermione. Surprise was decomissioned in 1802 and delivered into the fictional captaincy of Jack Aubrey. This sumptuous new volume, written by acclaimed naval historian Brian Lavery, not only reveals the complete career history and commentary of HMS Surprise in both its guises, but also presents an all-embracing construction and fitting history of the Fifth Rate including some 30 line drawings as well as historical artworks and detailed photographs. The book is presented in full colour throughout and additionally includes a series of specially-commissioned sketches and some 30 paintings by co-author Geoff Hunt RSMA, the acclaimed artist of the Patrick O'Brian cover artworks and related prints. Geoff Hunt also contributes a most illuminating chapter on his experiences in, and challenges faced, when illustrating this ship. The detailed line and isometric plans are being drawn by prolific marine draughtsman Karl Heinz Marquardt.

Frequently Bought Together

The Frigate Surprise: The Design, Construction and Careers of Jack Aubrey's Favourite Command + Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World + Harbors and High Seas: An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian
Price For All Three: 58.16

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Conway; 1st edition (17 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844860744
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844860746
  • Product Dimensions: 29.2 x 30.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Brian Lavery is one of Britain's leading naval historians and a prolific author. A Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and a renowned expert on the sailing navy and the Royal Navy, in 2007 he won the prestigious Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award. His naval writing was further honoured in 2008 with the Society of Nautical Research's Anderson Medal. His recent titles include Ship (2006), Royal Tars (2010), Conquest of the Ocean (2013), In Which They Served (2008), Churchill's Navy (2006), and the Sunday Times bestseller Empire of the Seas (2010).

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a word, superb! 2 Dec 2008
With even a larger format than the standard Conway nautical reference volume, the pages of "The Frigate Surprise" are filled with large reproductions of glorious Geoff Hunt paintings of the ship made famous by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, along with Royal Navy plans of Surprise herself upon her capture from the French (and of her sister ship, La Tourterelle), exquisite plans and drawings by Karl Marquardt (providing sail plans both per historical records and, as described in the O'Brian novels, with the mainmast of a 36-gun frigate), and photographs of the 20th century-built HMS Rose in her guise as the Surprise for the film "Master and Commander" and of other tall ships and models, plus narrative text from Brian Lavery on the Surprise's historical and fictional careers and by Geoff Hunt upon the challenges of painting the ship. There are also lists of spar dimensions as equipped the Surprise in 1802 and of the actual crew as of Oct. 1, 1799, a copy of an 1801 evaluation of the ship's sailing qualities by her captain, and even a little pen sketch by Patrick O'Brian himself of the deck plan as he envisioned it. There is also a wonderfully vivid "tour" through the Surprise detailed by Lavery.

The Surprise for any fan of the Aubrey-Maturin Canon must occupy a spot in our hearts rather like 221B Baker Street in the Sherlock Holmes Canon: both a paradigmatic locale for the heroes and a nexus between the real world and their fictional universe.

I cannot imagine how any fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels could fail to be captivated by this superb volume. For Aubrey-Maturin readers, "The Frigate Surprise" deserves the highest recommendation.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And complete is Right! 10 April 2009
This is a large format book with hard back and colour illustrations on almost every page. In short, an awful lot of book for the price. Whilst, generally speaking, books about a single ship tend to appeal to the smallest possible audience, this book will have a wider application because of the excellent way in which it has been laid out, the additional information it embraces, of course, the extra interest generated by the fans of those books by Patrick O' Brian. HMS Surprise was captured from the French in 1796 and then served in the Royal Navy with distinction. She was decommissioned at Deptford in 1802. Unlike other ships to have suffered a similar fate, it is at this point that HMS Surprise becomes the command of Jack Aubrey and went on to be the most famous ship in fictional literature.

As with all "fiction based on fact," there will be those who always wanted to know more about the real HMS Surprise and this book does justice to that demand, the period of naval history in question and, most important of all, the ship itself. The text is fascinating and as riveting as any work of fiction as we work our way through the life and trials of this vessel. The photography is not only of the highest standard, it is also well thought out and includes examples of similar items and ships which survive to this day. Then there are the maps, plans and line drawings - with sufficient information for any scale modeller.

As a writer whose own books contain outstanding marine art, I am also able to fully appreciate the work involved in producing the paintings reproduced throughout this work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Frigate Surprise 7 Mar 2012
By Gladys
This is the brilliant addition to my books and I only wish I had it before or while reading the books.
It helps illustrate the conditions and problems the crews handled and how the ships survived.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quality publication 8 Nov 2012
By loafer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It arrived to me in Spain seven days after placing the order - removing the weekend and a Spanish Bank Holiday leaves just four days to get her which is very good, quite happy.

Unfortunately the packing was not up to it (unusual for Amazon), this lovely book was placed in the bottom of a large box with no extra protection at all with a boxed kettle on top of it and some brown paper for filling. Hence the book suffered some damage to the rear cover when the box was obviously dropped on something, the damage possibly not enough to warrant a return from Spain but enough to be slightly annoying. I feel the way it was packed it would have got damaged even if it was delivered to a UK address, not very good. I have completed and returned a packaging feedback form but have had no reply, maybe you don't get one. Overall a bit disappointed.

Regarding the book, it's difficult to add anything new to the many positive comments already made. The amount of sheer quality work that has gone into this book shines through on every page, you get the feeling the people involved in its conception considered it a labour of love and not just a job. It takes you into Jack Aubrey's world in great detail, only a world for the brave or the foolhardy, if the work didn't kill you then a cannonball probably would. I am a recent discoverer of the Master and Commander books and this is a great companion, but anyone with faintest interest in the Royal Navy of old or what makes a sailing ship work should get it. At 30.00 good value, at 15.00 a steal, get one while you can. (I could have bought it from Amazon.es here in Spain but it is listed at twice the price.)

If you want to leave a book on your coffee table to impress your friends then this is it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Ordered this book in December and guess what amazon still haven't...
Don't bother ordering anything out of the ordinary as amazon will just hide behind this order is temporarily unavailable. Read more
Published 16 months ago by t a baker
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprise revealed.
An excellent book, a must have for fans of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books. It has a lot of detail of the real Surprise (ex l'Unite), and Aubrey's Surprise which was quite a bit... Read more
Published on 9 May 2012 by Stiubhart
5.0 out of 5 stars The Frigate Surprise
I have greatly enjoyed this book and the links between fact and fiction based on the Patrick O'Brian series. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2011 by JW
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book worth every penny
I was a little unsure purchasing a book online but I am so glad I did. This book is lovely, my Dad is a huge Patrick O'Brian fan and wants to build his own replica of HMS Surprise... Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2010 by Ally03
5.0 out of 5 stars insight to life in a frigate
fabulous paintings and sketches,the detailed information is of a very high standard. a high quality book well worth the money.
Published on 21 April 2010 by Mr. Wh Thornley
5.0 out of 5 stars the frigate surprise
Beautiful collaborative work brought together in this book. Design, layout, and finish- superb. A delight for all O'Brian,Lavery and Hunt friends.
Published on 14 April 2010 by Patrick Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
In the years B. P. (Before Patrick) an average bookworm sailing enthusiast with a penchant for historical naval fiction was seriously limited in choice, so, almost by default, the... Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2009 by Joolz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I read this book cover to cover in a few days it was so interesting!
Now I will keep it to hand to just pick up and enjoy the brilliant paintings, plans and drawings. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2009 by Mr. R. E. Bent
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