A Book of Voyages

      Patrick O'Brian
A Book of Voyages

Never previously published in this country, A Book of Voyages presents writings by various travelers, annotated and introduced by Patrick O’Brian. Most are taken from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; O’Brian felt that, unlike Elizabethan or Victorian accounts, these writings were relatively unknown in our time.

On her journey through the Crimea, Lady Craven witnesses barbaric entertainments in the court of the Tartar Khan. John Bell tells us of his day’s hunting with the Manchu emperor in 1721 outside Peking. An English woman in Madras gives us a detailed description of the extraordinary costume and body decoration of a high-born Indian woman, wife of a nabob.

These and other selections are glimpses of a world, now gone forever, that few readers would ever see for themselves. They are also quite possibly the inspiration for the travels and adventures of O’Brian’s own fictional heroes Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.


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    The Far Side of the World

      Patrick O'Brian
The Far Side of the World

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 tenth book in the series.

It is still the War of 1812. Patrick O’Brian takes his hero Jack Aubrey and his tetchy, sardonic friend Stephen Maturin on a voyage as fascinating as anything he has ever written. They set course across the South Atlantic to intercept a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade.

If they do not come up with her before she rounds the Horn, they must follow her into the Great South Sea and as far across the Pacific as she may lead them. It is a commission after Jack’s own heart. Maturin has fish of his own to fry in the world of secret intelligence.

Aubrey has to cope with a succession of disasters – men overboard, castaways, encounters with savages, storms, typhoons, groundings, shipwrecks, to say nothing of murder and criminal insanity. That the enemy is in fact faithfully dealt with, no one who has the honour of Captain Aubrey’s acquaintance can take leave to doubt.


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    The Hundred Days

      Patrick O'Brian
The Hundred Days

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 nineteenth book in the series.

Following the extraordinary success of The Yellow Admiral, this latest Aubrey-Maturin novel brings alive the sights and sounds of North Africa as well as the great naval battles in the days immediately following Napoleon’s escape from Elba. Aubrey and Maturin are in the thick of the plots and counterplots to prevent his regaining power. Coloured by conspiracies in the Adriatic, in the Berber and Arab lands of the southern shores of the Mediterranean, by night actions, fierce pursuits, slave-trading and lion hunts, The Hundred Days is a masterpiece.

’O’Brian is far and away the best of the Napoleonic storytellers and The Hundred Days is one of the best of the series: a classic naval adventure, crammed with incident, superbly plotted and utterly gripping…This is O’Brian at his brilliant, entertaining best and when he is on this form the rest of us who write of the Napoleonic conflict might as well give up and try a new career. Fans of the series will need no encouragement to buy this book, but if you are new to Aubrey and Maturin then this is as splendid an introduction as you could wish for.’ Bernard Cornwell


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    The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

      Patrick O'Brian
The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

Transcription of the handwritten pages:
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In response to the interest of millions of Patrick O'Brian fans, here is the final, partial installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series.

Blue at the Mizzen (novel #20) ended with Jack Aubrey getting the news, in Chile, of his elevation to flag rank: Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron, with orders to sail to the South Africa station. The next novel, unfinished and untitled at the time of the author's death, would have been the chronicle of that mission, and much else besides. The three chapters left on O'Brian's desk at the time of his death are presented here both in printed version-including his corrections to the typescript-and a facsimile of his manuscript, which goes several pages beyond the end of the typescript to include a duel between Stephen Maturin and an impertinent officer who is courting his fiancée.

Of course we would rather have had the whole story; instead we have this proof that O'Brian's powers of observation, his humor, and his understanding of his characters were undiminished to the end.


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    The Fortune of War

      Patrick O'Brian
The Fortune of War

Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written.

Captain Jack Aubrey, RN, arrives in the Dutch East Indies to find himself appointed to the command of the fastest and best-armed frigate in the Navy. He and his friend Stephen Maturin take passage for England in a despatch vessel. But the war of 1812 breaks out while they are en route. Bloody actions precipitate them both into new and unexpected scenes where Stephen’s past activities as a secret agent return on him with a vengeance.


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    The Surgeon's Mate

      Patrick O'Brian
The Surgeon's Mate

The 7th installment in the Aubrey/Maturin Series.

Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their latest vitory to the government. But Maturin is a marked man for the havoc he has wrought in the Fren intelligence network in the New World, and the attentions of two privateers soon become menacing. the chase that follows is as thrilling and unexpected as anything O'Brian has written.


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    Beasts Royal: Twelve Tales of Adventure

      Patrick O'Brian
Beasts Royal: Twelve Tales of Adventure

Beasts Royal is the second book written by Patrick O’Brian – made available, at last, for the first time since the 1930s and elegantly repackaged.

On the indigo waters of the South Sea, the crew of a schooner are attacked by a man-eating tiger-shark. In the humid depths of the African jungle, a thirty-foot python plots to rid himself of his rival, a wily old crocodile. Amid the heat and dust of the Punjab, the snake-charmer Hussein escapes into the forest on the elephant that he trained when a mahout in his youth.

With the dry wit and unsentimental precision O’Brian would come to be loved for, we see the drama and tragedies of the natural world unfold for these, as well as other birds and beasts, in these twelve tales of animal adventure that would appear together in 1934 as the author’s second book.

O’Brian’s debut, Caesar, had been published in 1930 and became an instant success, seeing him hailed as the ‘boy-Thoreau’. His second novel, Hussein, would expand upon one of the stories included in this collection and has been praised by Martin Booth of The Daily Telegraph as being ‘…as fresh today as when it was written.…so rich in detail, it is breathtaking.’ As with Caesar and Hussein, Beasts Royal sheds fascinating light on the formation of the literary genius behind the Aubrey-Maturin series of historical adventure tales, for which he is deservedly famous.


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    Hussein: An Entertainment

      Patrick O'Brian
Hussein: An Entertainment

Of this early work, published when he was in his early twenties, Patrick O'Brian writes in a foreword: "In the writing of the book I learnt the rudiments of my calling: but more than that, it opened a well of joy that has not yet run dry." The story is about a young mahout—or elephant handler—his childhood and life in India, and his relationship and adventures with elephants. As a boy, Hussein falls in love with a beautiful and elusive girl, Sashiya, and arranges for another of her suitors to be murdered with a fakir's curse. The dead man's relatives vow vengeance. Hussein escapes and his adventures begin: snake-charming, sword-fighting, spying, stealing a fortune, and returning triumphantly to claim his bride. All of this is set against an evocatively exotic India, full of bazaars, temples, and beautiful women—despite the fact that O'Brian had never been to the East when he wrote the story.


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    The Rendezvous and Other Stories

      Patrick O'Brian
The Rendezvous and Other Stories

Patrick O'Brian has emerged, in the opinion of many, as one of the greatest novelists now writing in English. His fame rests mainly on the achievement of the epic Aubrey/Maturin novels, but few readers know that O'Brian first made his reputation as a writer of short fiction. Collected here for the first time are twenty-seven stories that O'Brian wishes to preserve: stories of uncommon lyricism and beauty that will confirm his rightful place in the front rank of short-story writers as well as of novelists.

Although the tone of this collection ranges effortlessly from the humorous to the dramatic, the most characteristic and memorable stories often have to do with a glimpse of savage, destructive forces through the fragile shell of human civilization. The threatened chaos may be psychological, as in "On the Wolfsberg," or it may be lurking in the natural world, as in "A Passage of the Frontier," or, as in the dark masterpiece "The Chian Wine," it is suddenly discovered in the ancient, irrational impulses of human nature.

The setting may be the marshes of western Ireland, the Pyrenees, or the claustrophobic confines of a clockmender's house, but each story is a showcase for Patrick O'Brian's fresh and meticulous prose; each story reaffirms his sympathetic understanding of human passion and suffering. This collection proves that O'Brian is not simply the master of a genre, but an author who will long be honored as one of our most eminent literary figures.


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    H.M.S. Surprise

      Patrick O'Brian
H.M.S. Surprise

Amid sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent explore ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. Somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich - ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet.


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    Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard

      Patrick O'Brian
Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard

A stark tale encompassing the cruelty and beauty of the natural world, and a clear demonstration of the storytelling gift that would later flower in the Aubrey/Maturin series. When he was fourteen years old and beset by chronic ill health, Patrick O'Brian began creating his first fictional character. "I did it in my bedroom, and a little when I should have been doing my homework," he confessed in a note on the original dust-jacket. Caesar tells the picaresque, enchanting, and quite bloodthirsty story of a creature whose father is a giant panda and whose mother is a snow leopard. Through the eyes and voice of this fabulous creature, we learn of his life as a cub, his first hunting exploits, his first encounters with man, his capture and taming. Caesar was published in 1930, three months after O'Brian's fifteenth birthday, but the dry wit and unsentimental precision O'Brian readers savor in the Aubrey/Maturin series is already in evidence. The book combines Stephen Maturin's fascination and encyclopedic knowledge of natural history with the narrative charm of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It was published in England and the United States, and in translation in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Japan. Reviews hailed the author as the "boy-Thoreau." "We can see here a true storyteller in the making....a gripping narrative, which holds the reader's attention and never flags."—The Spectator


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    Blue at the Mizzen

      Patrick O'Brian
Blue at the Mizzen

Almost three decades after commencing his maritime epic with Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian is still at it.

The 20th episode, Blue at the Mizzen, is another swashbuckling adventure on the high seas, complete with romantic escapades from smoggy London to Sierra Leone, diplomacy, espionage, the intricacies of warfare, and imperial brinksmanship.

As always, these events are bound up in the ongoing friendship between two officers of the Royal Navy. Jack Aubrey is the naval captain, bold yet compassionate, innovative yet cautious, as fearless in war as he is bumbling in affairs of the heart and household.

His boon companion Stephen Maturin is the ship's surgeon - and additionally a spy for the British government, a wealthy Catalonian aristocrat, a doting Irish father, and an avid naturalist.

That may sound like a lot to keep track of. However, it's not necessary to carry around a scorecard or ship's roster while reading Blue at the Mizzen. The ostensible issue is whether Jack will finally be promoted to Admiral of the Blue. But long before he hears any word from the Napoleonic era's equivalent of Personnel, he loses half his crew to desertion, his ship undergoes a disastrous collision, and the entire company comes close to perishing in the ice-choked seas off Cape Horn.

Meanwhile, the widowed Maturin issues a surprising proposal of marriage to a beautiful, mud-bespattered fellow naturalist while trekking through an African mangrove swamp. (The two lovebirds happen to be searching for a rare variant of 'Caprimulgus longipennis', the long-tailed nightjar, which they hope to surprise in full mating plumage.)

Still, this is hardly a plot-driven novel. O'Brian takes time to get anywhere, and invariably enjoys the journey more than the arrival. So even as we get constant hints of the climax to come - Jack's spectacular naval action on behalf of the infant Republic of Chile - we don't mind hearing about the nuances of shipboard existence or the secret life of the white-faced tree duck.

We're treated, for example, to this snippet about managed care, circa 1816: "Poll, Maggie and a horse-leech from the starboard watch have been administering enemas to the many, many cases of gross surfeit that have now replaced the frostbites, torsions, and debility of the recent past, the very recent past. Strong, fresh, seal-meat has not its equal for upsetting the seaman's metabolism: he is much better kept on biscuits, Essex cheese, and a very little well-seethed salt pork--kept on short commons."

And we're grateful! We can only hope that the elderly author will favor us with at least one more novel, so that his avid followers can avoid their own form of short commons. Life without Aubrey and Maturin would be a deprivation indeed. - Andrew Himes


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    The Yellow Admiral

      Patrick O'Brian
The Yellow Admiral

Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey in The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O'Brian's best-selling novel and eighteenth volume in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the Admiralty by his erratic voting as a Member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong Navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour: in the storm waters off Brest he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but this at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and this feeds into Jack's private fears for his career.

Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie's forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.


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    The Mauritius Command

      Patrick O'Brian
The Mauritius Command

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 fourth book in the series.

In The Mauritius Command, Captain Jack Aubrey is ashore on half-pay without a command until his friend, surgeon and secret agent Stephen Maturin arrives with secret orders for Aubrey to take a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope, under a commodore’s pennant. But the difficulties of carrying out his orders are compounded by two of his own captains — one a pleasure-seeking dilettante, the other liable to provoke the crew to mutiny.

Based on the actual campaign of 1810 in the Indian Ocean, O’Brian’s attention to detail of life ashore and at sea is meticulous. This tale is as beautifully written and as gripping as any in the series; it also stands on its own as a superlative work of fiction.


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    The Golden Ocean

      Patrick O'Brian
The Golden Ocean

In the year 1740, Commodore (later Admiral) George Anson embarked on a voyage that would become one of the most famous exploits in British naval history. Sailing through poorly charted waters, Anson and his men encountered disaster, disease, and astonishing success. They circumnavigated the globe and seized a nearly incalcuable sum of Spanish gold and silver, but only one of the five ships survived.

This is the background to the first novel Patrick O'Brian ever wrote about the sea, a precursor to the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series that shares the excitement and rich humor of those books. The protagonist is Peter Palafox, son of a poor Irish parson, who signs on as a midshipman, never before having seen a ship. Together with his lifelong friend Sean, Peter sets out to seek his fortune, embarking upon a journey of danger, disappointment, foreign lands, and excitement.

Here is a tale certain to please not only admirers of O'Brian's work but also any reader with an adventurous soul.


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    Master and Commander

      Patrick O'Brian
Master and Commander

The opening salvo of the Aubrey-Maturin epic, in which the surgeon introduces himself to the captain by driving an elbow into his ribs during a chamber-music recital. Fortunately for millions of readers, the two quickly make up. Then they commence one of the great literary voyages of our century, set against an immaculately-detailed backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. This is the place to start--and in all likelihood, you won't be able to stop.


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    The Reverse of the Medal

      Patrick O'Brian
The Reverse of the Medal

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.


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    Desolation Island

      Patrick O'Brian
Desolation Island

Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written.

Commissioned to rescue Governor Bligh of Bounty fame, Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and surgeon, Stephen Maturin, sail the Leopard to Australia with a hold full of convicts. Among them is a beautiful and dangerous spy — and a treacherous disease which decimates the crew.

The ingredients of a wonderfully powerful and dramatic O’Brian novel are heightened by descriptive writing of rare quality. Nowhere in contemporary prose have the majesty and terror of the sea been more effectively rendered than in the thrilling chase through an Antarctic storm in which Jack’s ship, under-manned and out-gunned, is the quarry not the hunter.


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    The Wine-Dark Sea

      Patrick O'Brian
The Wine-Dark Sea

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 sixteenth book in the series.

At the opening of a voyage filled with disaster and delight, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are in pursuit of a privateer sailing under American colours through the Great South Sea. Stephen’s objective is to set the revolutionary tinder of South America ablaze to relieve the pressure on the British government which has blundered into war with the young and uncomfortably vigorous United States. The shock and barbarity of hand-to-hand fighting are sharpened by O’Brian’s exact sense of period, his eye for landscape and his feel for a ship under sail.


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    The Nutmeg of Consolation

      Patrick O'Brian
The Nutmeg of Consolation

Shipwrecked on a remote island in the Dutch East Indies, Captain Aubrey, surgeon and secret intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, and the crew of the Diane fashion a schooner from the wreck. A vicious attack by Malay pirates is repulsed, but the makeshift vessel burns, and they are truly marooned. Their escape from this predicament is one that only the whimsy and ingenuity of Patrick O'Brian—or Stephen Maturin—could devise.

In command now of a new ship, the Nutmeg, Aubrey pursues his interrupted mission. The dreadful penal colony in New South Wales, harrowingly described, is the backdrop to a diplomatic crisis provoked by Maturin's Irish temper, and to a near-fatal encounter with the wildlife of the Australian outback.(less)


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