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The Reverse of the Medal [Paperback]

Patrick O'Brian
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2010

Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of their beginning, with Master and Commander, these evocative stories are being re-issued in paperback with smart new livery. This is the eleventh book in the series.

The Reverse of the Medal is in all respects an unconventional naval tale. Jack Aubrey returns from his duties protecting whalers off South America and is persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make investments in the City on the strength of supposedly certain information. From there he is led into the half worlds of the London criminal underground and of government espionage – the province of his friend, Stephen Maturin, on whom alone he can rely.

Those who are already devoted readers of Patrick O’Brian will find here all the brilliance of characterisation and sparkle of dialogue which they have come to expect. For those who read him for the first time there will be the pleasure of discovering, quite unexpectedly, a novelist of unique character.

Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; New Ed edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006499260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006499268
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,918 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

Ashore between cruises, Captain Jack Aubrey is persuaded to sink some money into an investment scheme. Soon this innocent decision enmeshes him in various criminal and even treasonous enterprises, which threaten to destroy his entire career. Bad luck? A deliberate plot? Read this latest instalment of the Aubrey-Maturin saga to find out. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'…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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Lucky" Jack no longer. 8 Jan 2004
The Aubrey-Maturin series reaches its emotional high-point. Like Post Captain, Reverse of the Medal takes place mostly on land but it is as far-removed as it can be from that romantic-comedy interval. We get to see a fascinating glimpse of the London underworld and the legal processes of the time and Jack Aubrey in adversity is an impressive sight. He bears his misfortune with stoic dignity and the respect in which he is held by all he has served with comes to his rescue in his blackest moment. The climax of the book is one of the most powerful and moving passages I have ever read and made me realise how much I had come to care about these characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aubrey's low point is O'Brian's high point 11 May 2008
By N. Webb
This is simply, for me, one of the best novels ever written, of any genre, & finds O'Brian at the very peak of his considerable powers. Ostensibly it is 'just' another instalment of the Aubrey/Maturin sea-faring tales & works very well on that level. However, apart from the opening sequences, the story unfolds mainly ashore & represents Captain Aubrey's most difficult challenge to date. As he has shown in previous episodes, he is never more at sea than when he is on land. Basically he is 'stitched up' by unsuspected enemies & consequently becomes embroiled in the politically biased judicial system of the time, with predictable results. If like me, you have followed Aubrey through all his previous adventures, all his various ups & downs then, like me, you will find this a very bittersweet experience as he reaches his nadir. I'll not attempt to deny that I blubbered unashamedly as the story reached it's poignant climax. It is not all doom & gloom however, the book has it's lighter moments &,as can be seen by the number of sequels, it is far from the end of the line for Aubrey. Historical novels,indeed any novels, really do not come any better than this. Enjoy !
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I find Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series a challenge to read, albeit an excellent, well-connected long novel. I could not put down the eleventh in the series, The Reverse of the Medal, once I began it. Although most of this book occurs on land, where Captain Jack Aubrey is naive and awkward, O'Brian exploits this: the force of the plot is as strong as the earliest, more typically naval stories in the saga. The climax brought tears to my eyes, and the last chapter's denouement evoked a cheer for Maturin and his dear friend. I went right to the Web to order the next two novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murky circles 11 Nov 2011
Captain Jack Aubrey becomes embroiled in the murky circles of espionage more usually the province of ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin. Stephen's behind the scenes actions enable the situation to be rescued, but at a high price to Jack and his career.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book 6 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am reading the whole series, one by one.
I love sailing as well, so I find the books very enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as ever 28 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Waldegrave piece at the end says it better than I can. Writing you can both enjoy and trust. Immensely enjoyable
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent as ever 19 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really don't need to review this book. If you have got to book 11 you will know the boys well, and will be wanting more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Aubrey Maturin Marmite 7 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sea, War, Death, Manliness, Friendship, Peril.

An enduring favorite for middle aged armchair warriors let down by the lack of honour and nobility in the modern world. O'Brien's humanism rings through, satisfying libertarian and collectivist alike.

The first book in the series is "Master and Commander". Start there for a rollicking five month reading experience.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Kindle version
The book is, of course, excellent; this review exists to point out a problem with the Kindle version. Read more
Published 7 months ago by james blight
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read takes one into the period and makes one want to read more....
A good read takes one into the period and makes one want to read more. I would recommend it to all
Published 7 months ago by Bhdc
4.0 out of 5 stars Aubrey-Maturin - O'Brian Series
I saw "Master and Commander", I came across an O'Brian book, decided I wanted to read the series.
Have enjoyed the series.
The story lines are bit repetitive. Read more
Published 13 months ago by M. A. Hogarth
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series
The Aubrey-Maturin series is a fantastic series. While it was the movie that drew me to the book series, Patrick O'Brian does not disappoint. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lorraine Zipser
5.0 out of 5 stars Love my books!
I love reading, what can I say, Great way to get all the books you want. Service couldn't be better.
Published 15 months ago by Manon Potvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
So good couldn't put it down. Captain Aubrey would be better never comiong ashore. Already reading the next book in the series.
Published 15 months ago by kate snook
5.0 out of 5 stars The best
Simply the best series of historical adventures ever written. Now re-reading a decade after first discovering them. What a treat..
Published 17 months ago by Julie B.
3.0 out of 5 stars the reverse of the medal
A very interesting book by an author who makes you live the action on every page and keeps you enthralled until the last page
Published 17 months ago by oldgit
4.0 out of 5 stars Book 11
Continuing the fascinating saga of Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin (with Aubrey's bankruptcy still hanging over his head and introducing a new and possibly vexing character in Jack &... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Tricky Dickie
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