- Paperback: 386 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; New Ed edition (16 Dec. 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006499236
- ISBN-13: 978-0006499237
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 62 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Treason's Harbour Paperback – 16 Dec 1996
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'…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
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. All eighteen books are being re-issued in hardback by HarperCollins with stunning new jackets to coincide with a new film based on the adventures and to introduce these modern classics to a new generation. Uniquely among authors of naval fiction, Patrick O'Brian allows his characters to develop with experience. The Jack Aubrey of Treason's Harbour has a record of successes equal to that of the most brilliant of Nelson's band of brothers, and he is no less formidable or decisive in action or strategy. But he is wiser, kinder, gentler too. Much of the plot of Treason's Harbour depends on intelligence and counter-intelligence, a field in which Aubrey's friend Stephen Maturin excels. Through him we get a clearer insight into the life and habits of the sea officers of Nelson's time than we would ever obtain seeing things through their own eyes. There is plenty of action and excitement in this novel, but it is the atmosphere of a Malta crowded with senior officers waiting for news of what the French are up to, and wondering whether the war will end before their turnSee all Product description
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This is the ninth installment in o'Brian's epic twenty part series following the adventures and friendship of Lucky Jack Aubrey, a bluff, John Bullish Naval Captain and his friend Stephen Maturin, a surgeon, natural philosopher and spy. And a wonderful series it is too. The stories are generally nicely plotted but, for me, a little bit of a distraction. Never mind - there's always so much going on - naval battles, political intrigue by sea and land, Jack's financial woes and Stephen's precarious romantic assaults at home - that the actual plot tends to get lost in the smoke of battle. That doesn't matter too much (or at all) because each book is such a pleasure to read.
The gloriously elegant writing, for instance. O'Brian's love of language makes every page a literal joy to read - try this quote from a later book, The Commodore, (I make no apologies for it's length).
"The still air was delightfully fresh with falling dew, and a late nightingale, in an indifferent voice, was uttering a routine jug-jug far down in Jack's plantations; closer at hand and more agreeable by far, nightjars churred in the orchard, two of them, or perhaps three, the sound rising and falling, intertwining so that the source could not be made out for sure. There were few birds that he preferred to nightjars, but it was not they that had brought him out of bed: he stood leaning on the balcony rail and presently Jack Aubrey, in a summer-house by the bowling-green, began again, playing very gently in the darkness, improvising wholly for himself, dreaming away on his violin with a mastery that Stephen had never heard equalled, though they had played together for years and years ... Now, in the warm night, there was no one to be comforted, kept in countenance, no one could scorn him for virtuosity, and he could let himself go entirely; and as the grave and subtle music wound on and on, Stephen once more contemplated on the apparent contradiction between the big, cheerful, florid sea-officer whom most people liked on sight but who would have never been described as subtle or capable of subtlety by any one of them (except perhaps his surviving opponents in battle) and the intricate, reflective music he was now creating."
The sheer beauty of the writing compliments o'Brian's great wit. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to be had in these books. These come from a variety of sources - Jack's complete lack of guile (and, frequently, diplomacy) and his own very simple, earthy sense of humour; Stephen's ineptitude as a sea man and unerring ability to cast himself or his posessions into the sea at a moment's notice; the tolerance of each for the other's failings. If it sounds like Jack and Stephen are a comedy duo - Laurel and Hardy, Morcambe and Wise, then you're not far off the mark, but don't let that put you off - the relationship that the two men share is deep and complex and portrayed by o'Brian with a profound respect - even love - for his protagonists. There is a little farce, some slap-stick, but the humour is varied, intelligent and bone-dry and, pardon the cliche, you are rarely laughing at the characters, more often with them.
If I've said little about this particular installment it is because it is entirely subsumed within the series. Read one and you have to read all twenty of them.
A twenty book long adventure which could be described (indeed has been described) as the greatest adventure sequence written in modern literature. Twenty books, savoured, will keep you going for how long? A year? Two? Think again. The real joy is that, before O'Brian first put pen to paper on this series (in 1969!) he was already an accomplished (although perhaps not particularly successful) author with some eight books to his name. What is more he had pretty much developed his protagonists under different names and themes. Now, with most long literary cycles, the characters evolve and the writing style improves so much over the course of the series that when you eventually return to book 1 it is often a deep disappointment on the second reading. Not so here: as you start page 1 of Master and Commander, you are entering a world that is already fully matured, peopled with fully-formed characters. When you get to the last page of the last book (Blue at the Mizzen), you can return to Master & Commander and start reading again (as many AM connoiseurs do) without missing a beat. Indeed it is quite possible to re-read the entire series many times without tiring of it. Put simply, O'Brian's masterwork will last you a lifetime.
It'll cost you an arm and a leg too, but hey! the children can go without their dinner for a couple of days or without shoes for a few months. It's important to get your priorities right.
"...very strangely, his officers looked upon Jack Aubrey as a moral figure, in spite of all proofs of the contrary..."
¯ Patrick O'Brian, The Mauritius Command
Beware though as these are seriously addictive and I have bought and read each and everyone of the series and have read them in order.
Forget Hornblower, he is good but these are brilliant! Also don't be put off by Russel Crowe and "Master and Comander" the movie, which was an odd mash up of two of the books. Being an addict I enjoyed the film as well!
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A wonderful series of books