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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 February 2001
I have fallen for these novels since a sceptical encounter with master and Commander I have hurtled through about one a week .
This is the best so far . The development of the characters especailly Aubrey and Maturin never stales and the interplay between the recurring characters is never boring.
The eye for detail is amazing and the shipboard writing accurate but not impenetrable.
These are beautifully written and exciting novels .
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on 7 July 2009
For anyone who has yet to read one of Patrick O'Brian's novels; please do not be put off by the film Master & Commander, if you have seen it.

These books are superb and, in my view, this is the best so far.

The Surgeon's Mate (his 7th in the Aubrey/Maturin series) focuses more on the intelligence activities of Dr Maturin - something sadly not even acknowledged in the film. Dr Maturin usually contrives to get Jack Aubrey ordered to transport him to his various assignments and therefore become somehow involved in them. In this story Jack is quite desperate to flee England (to escape the threatened visitation from an earlier extra-marital liason), only to end up with both men captured by the French.

The build up in tension is brilliant, as we read of the French Intelligence's successes in piecing together the evidence that will eventually see our heroes standing before a firing squad, while our boys plot and execute their escape - a true race against time.

The story is spell-binding - the book difficult to put down - and ends with their eventual aid coming from a most unexpected source.

Patrick O'Brian's mastery of both the English language and history of Naval warfare is unbeatable. His equal touches of comedy, grief and humanity really do put him way out ahead of the competition.

Great stuff - but don't take it on holiday with you. Your family will pine for want of your attention and the in-laws will never speak to you again ... I'll get yours in the post, shall I?
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on 21 August 2015
I have long been fan of this series, for its adventure, well-told stories, and the relationship betweeen the characters Aubrey and Maturin. They are the kind of novel that continue to give pleasure over the years, on reading, and re-reading. Each is an episode in the life of Aubrey (the sailor} as his exploits propel him up the promotion ladder, and Maturin, a Naturalist ever hungry for new discoveries in remote parts of the world, but who also is a superlative surgeon of his day, a secret agent working for the downfall of Napoleon, and a close friend of Aubrey.

What makes these stories ring true is that they all call upon actual history of the time. So, ship to ship actions where Aubrey defeats heavier, better armed foes, reflect the actual achievements of Captains of the day.

There is no need for me to review more of the series: every one is a gem, and there will be no more. Patrick O'Brian may be dead, but his legacy lives on.
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on 5 March 2013
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. (20+ books)
There is not a lot of 'action' in the books they are more 'drama' in their nature.
The stories are interwoven with a lot of information about animals and birds that at times can become too much of a good thing.
The stories are interwoven with a lot of information about the navy of the time that I found fascinating and not distracting. Apparently mutiny, within tightly specified protocols, was an accepted form of 'industrial action'.
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on 8 April 2014
Although these books are a series all involving the sea born adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his pal Stephen Maturin the ship's surgeon, they can also be read as stand alone stories.

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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on 7 January 2016
Excellent read; amazing contemporary descriptions of life in the Royal Navy in such unenlightened times. Eye watering descriptions of dreadful, almost casual, violence; not to mention the surgery that followed. And you have to keep turning the page to follow Jack Aubrey's mad dash career
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on 23 July 2013
This is the 5th book I have read and I have found myself drawn in to the descriptions of the times and the lives of Aubrey and Maturin in what is a fascinating period of history. Though each is a stand alone story I find I have benefited from reading them in order as each book is part of an overall progression for several of the characters. The story is exciting enough to make you want to read on without resorting to too many battle scene descriptions, and it gives an interesting insight into the ways of the navy, espionage and the developments in the life sciences at that time.
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on 28 June 2015
I came to Patrick O'Brian late in life. Now Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin and their world are as much part of my life as breathing, ear hair and my ever questioning 4 year old. The books are like having a crack habit. I am on book 8 and I am already disappointed that there are only 22 in the series. I look forward to spending the next year in the company of Jack and Stephen, Diana and Sophie, Babbington and all the crews. I will then probably start again at the beginning.
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on 7 October 2013
The Aubrey, Maturin saga is first class whether or not you have a great interest in the sea and ships. The writing is unsurpassed, the ongoing story is totally compelling and the attention to detail and period manners makes you live that story.
However, although each book could stand alone I would strongly recommend the reader to start at the beginning of the series "Master and Commander" thus getting the whole story from the start.
Be warned - this saga is highly addictive!
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on 22 August 2012
I came late to O'Brian's novels. I greatly enjoy tales of Nelson's navy, perticularly Woodman and Stockwin although C.S.Forester's Hornblower always seems to be a bit priggish. In my younger days I did pick up a copy of one of the O'Brian novels but, at the time, thought the language style a bit archaic. However having come upon the series in later life and reading the series in order, I was delighted as having read them earlier I may not have enjoyed them to the degree to which I have, a joy to read, excellently written and with many intertwined plots and sub plots. They have to be read more than once and in order to get the full enjoyment and appreciation of one of the great series of English Literature.

The Surgeon's Mate is probably one of the more difficult to start with as it is dependent on previous activities, relationships and events to ensure understanding and appreciation.
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