To the delight of millions of Patrick O'Brian fans, here is the final, partial installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series, for the first time in paperback. 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 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.
"The old master has us again in the palm of his hand."--Los Angeles Times (a Best Book of 1999) Napoleon has been defeated at Waterloo, and the ensuing peace brings with it both the desertion of nearly half of Captain Aubrey's crew and the sudden dimming of Aubrey's career prospects in a peacetime navy. When the Surprise is nearly sunk on her way to South America--where Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are to help Chile assert her independence from Spain--the delay occasioned by repairs reaps a harvest of strange consequences. The South American expedition is a desperate affair; and in the end Jack's bold initiative to strike at the vastly superior Spanish fleet precipitates a spectacular naval action that will determine both Chile's fate and his own.
"O'Brian was only 15 when [Caesar] was published, but he already possessed an instinct for deft plotting and uncomplicated narrative."--The New York Times 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
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen."--Philadelphia Inquirer This novel is a powerful successor to Testimonies, Patrick O'Brian's first novel written for adults. It is set in that corner of France that became O'Brian's adopted home, where the long, dark wall of the Pyrenees runs headlong to meet the Mediterranean. Alain Roig returns to Saint-Féliu after years in the East and finds his family in crisis. His dour, middle-aged cousin Xavier, the mayor and most powerful citizen of the town, has fallen in love and plans to marry Madeleine, the young daughter of the local grocer. The Roig family property is threatened by this union, and Madeleine's relatives object on different grounds. Xavier is a tragic figure, damned by what he perceives as a lack of feeling; Madeleine is to be his salvation. Unfortunately she does not return his affection, and, as the feasts and harvest festivals of Saint-Féliu are played out, she finds herself falling in love with Alain.
"The Coming of Age" is the definitive study of the universal problem of growing old, which in and of itself is a brilliant achievement.
The seventeenth novel in the best-selling Aubrey/Maturin series of naval tales, which the New York Times Book Review has described as "the best historical novels ever written." Having survived a long and desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it is disastrous: his little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared, her house being looked after by the widowed Clarissa Oakes. Much of The Commodore takes place on land, in sitting rooms and in drafty castles, but the roar of the great guns is never far from our hearing. Aubrey and Maturin are sent on a bizarre decoy mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland, where the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness as a secret intelligence agent. The subtle interweaving of these disparate themes is an achievement of pure storytelling by one of our greatest living novelists.
Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission. Little does he and Maturin know that disasters await them in the Great South Sea: typhoons, shipwrecks, murder, and criminal insanity.
The first novel Patrick O'Brian ever wrote about the sea, a precursor to the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series. 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.
Third in the series of Aubrey-Maturin adventures, this book is set among the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and in the distant waters ploughed by the ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. But somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams: the ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet....
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen....The Hundred Days may be the best installment yet....I give O'Brian's fans joy of it."--Philadelphia Inquirer Napoleon, escaped from Elba, pursues his enemies across Europe like a vengeful phoenix. If he can corner the British and Prussians before their Russian and Austrian allies arrive, his genius will lead the French armies to triumph at Waterloo. In the Balkans, preparing a thrust northwards into Central Europe to block the Russians and Austrians, a horde of Muslim mercenaries is gathering. They are inclined toward Napoleon because of his conversion to Islam during the Egyptian campaign, but they will not move without a shipment of gold ingots from Sheik Ibn Hazm which, according to British intelligence, is on its way via camel caravan to the coast of North Africa. It is this gold that Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin must at all costs intercept. The fate of Europe hinges on their desperate mission.
A glittering adventure set in India at the height of the British Raj. The New York Times compared this book to Kipling's Kim and called it "a gorgeous 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.
Captain Jack Aubrey, a brilliant and experienced officer, has been struck off the list of post-captains for a crime he did not commit. His old friend Stephen Maturin, usually cast as a ship's surgeon to mask his discreet activities on behalf of British Intelligence, has bought for Aubrey his former ship the Surprise to command as a privateer, more politely termed a letter of marque. Together they sail on a desperate mission against the French, which, if successful, may redeem Aubrey from the private hell of his disgrace.
"Fine stuff...[The Letter of Marque] leaves the devotee of naval fiction eager for sequels."--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World Captain Jack Aubrey, a brilliant and experienced officer, has been struck off the list of post-captains for a crime he did not commit. His old friend Stephen Maturin, usually cast as a ship's surgeon to mask his discreet activities on behalf of British Intelligence, has bought for Aubrey his former ship the Surprise to command as a privateer, more politely termed a letter of marque. Together they sail on a desperate mission against the French, which, if successful, may redeem Aubrey from the private hell of his disgrace.
This novel establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R. N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.
A concise overview, richly illustrated, of the historical background to the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin novels. This book is a companion to Patrick O'Brian's sea novels, a straightforward exploration of what daily life in Nelson's navy was really like, for everyone from the captain down to the rawest recruit. What did they eat? What songs did they sing? What was the schedule of watches? How were the officers and crew paid, and what was the division of prize-money? These questions and many more are answered in Patrick O'Brian's elegant narrative, which includes wonderful anecdotal material on the battles and commanders that established Britain's naval supremacy. Line drawings and charts help us to understand the construction and rigging of the great ships, the types and disposition of the guns, and how they were operated in battle. A number of contemporary drawings and cartoons illustrate aspects of naval life from the press gang to the scullery. Finally, a generous selection of full-color paintings render the majesty and the excitement of fleet actions in the age of fighting sail.
"[The series shows] a joy in language that jumps from every page....You're in for a wonderful voyage."--Cutler Durkee, People 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.
"The best biography of Picasso."--Kenneth Clark Patrick O'Brian's outstanding biography of Picasso is here available in paperback for the first time. It is the most comprehensive yet written, and the only biography fully to appreciate the distinctly Mediterranean origins of Picasso's character and art. Everything about Picasso, except his physical stature, was on an enormous scale. No painter of the first rank has been so awe-inspiringly productive. No painter of any rank has made so much money. A few painters have rivaled his life span of ninety years, but none has attracted so avid, so insatiable, a public interest. Patrick O'Brian knew Picasso sufficiently well to have a strong sense of his personality. The man that emerges from this scholarly, passionate, and brilliantly written biography is one of many contradictions: hard and tender, mean and generous, affectionate and cold, private despite the relish of his fame. In his later years he professed communism, yet in O'Brian's view retained to the end of his life a residual Catholic outlook. Not that such matters were allowed to interfere with his vigorous sensuality. Sex and money, eating and drinking, friends and quarrels, comedies and tragedies, suicides and wars tumble one another in the vast chaos of his experience. he was "a man almost as lonely as the sun, but one who glowed with much the same fierce, burning life." It is with that impression of its subject that this book leaves its readers.
In 1803 Napoleon smashes the Peace of Amiens, and Captain Jack Aubrey, R. N., is interned. He escapes from France, prison, from a possible mutiny, and straight into the mouth of a French-held harbor.
"An overwhelming, outstanding novel...!"--Irish Times Captain Jack Aubrey, R. N., ashore after a successful cruise, is persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make certain investments in the City. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government espionage--the province of his friend Stephen Maturin. Is Aubrey's humiliation and the threatened ruin of his career a deliberate plot? This dark tale is a fitting backdrop to the brilliant characterization and sparkling dialogue which O'Brian's readers have come to expect.
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen."--Philadelphia Inquirer The protagonist of this World War II novel is a prisoner of the German army in France. In order to keep himself sane while denying the charges and absorbing the beatings of his captors, Richard Temple conducts a minute examination--one might almost call it a prosecution--of his own life. Temple escapes from a blighted childhood and his widowed, alcoholic mother thanks to an artistic gift, the one thing of value he has to his name. His life as a painter in London of the '30s is cruelly deprived. In order to eat, he squanders this one asset by becoming a forger of art, specializing in minor works by Utrillo. He is rescued by the love of a beautiful and wealthy woman, and it is the failure of this relationship and the outbreak of war that propel him into the world of espionage.
O'Brian's richly told adventure saga, with its muscular prose, supple dialogue and engaging characters, packs a nice old-school punch." --Publishers Weekly This story begins where Patrick O'Brian's devoted fans would want it to, with a sloop in the South China Sea barely surviving a killer typhoon. The time is the 1930s and the protagonist a teenaged American boy whose missionary parents have just died. In the company of his rough seafaring uncle and an elderly English cousin, an eminent archaeologist, Derrick sets off in search of ancient treasures in central Asia. Along the way they encounter a charismatic Chinese bandit and a host of bad characters, including Russian agents fomenting unrest. The narrative touches on surprising subjects: astronomy, oriental philosophy, the correct identification of ancient Han bronzes, and some very local cuisine. It ends in an ice-bound valley, with the party caught between hostile Red-Hat monks and the Great Silent Ones, the Tibetan designation for the yeti.
"A welcome reissue of O'Brian's moving and very fine first novel."--Kirkus Reviews Delmore Schwartz, the most influential critic in postwar America, wrote of Patrick O'Brian's first novel Testimonies: "A triumph...drawn forward by lyric eloquence and the story's fascination, [the reader] discovers in the end that he has encountered in a new way the sphinx and the riddle of existence itself." Schwartz' imagination was fired by this sinister tale of love and death set in Wales, a timeless story with echoes of Thomas Hardy and Mary Webb. Joseph Pugh, sick of Oxford and of teaching, decides to take some time off to live in a wild and beautiful Welsh farm valley. There he falls physically ill and is nursed back to health by Bronwen Vaughn, the wife of a neighboring farmer. Slowly, unwillingly, Bronwen and Pugh fall in love;' and while that word is never spoken between them, their story is as passionate and as tragic as that of Vronsky and Anna Karenina.
"In length the series is unique; in quality--and there is not a weak link in the chain--it cannot but be ranked with the best of twentieth century historical novels."--T. J. Binyon, Independent Captain Jack Aubrey sets sail for the South China Sea with a new lease on life. Following his dismissal from the Royal Navy (a false accusation), he has earned reinstatement through his daring exploits as a privateer, brilliantly chronicled in The Letter of Marque. Now he is to shepherd Stephen Maturin--his friend, ship's surgeon, and sometimes intelligence agent--on a diplomatic mission to prevent links between Bonaparte and the Malay princes which would put English merchant shipping at risk. The journey of the Diane encompasses a great and satisfying diversity of adventures. Maturin climbs the Thousand Steps of the sacred crater of the orangutans; a killer typhoon catches Aubrey and his crew trying to work the Diane off a reef; and in the barbaric court of Pulo Prabang a classic duel of intelligence agents unfolds: the French envoys, well entrenched in the Sultan's good graces, against the savage cunning of Stephen Maturin.
The fifteenth installment in Patrick O'Brian's widely claimed series of Aubrey/Maturin novels is in equal parts mystery, adventure, and psychological drama. A British whaler has been captured by an ambitious chief in the sandwich islands at French instigation, and Captain Aubrey, R. N., Is dispatched with the Surprise to restore order. But stowed away in the cable-tier is an escaped female convict. To the officers, Clarissa Harvill is an object of awkward courtliness and dangerous jealousies. Aubrey himself is won over and indeed strongly attracted to this woman who will not speak of her past. But only Aubrey's friend, Dr. Stephen Maturin, can fathom Clarissa's secrets: her crime, her personality, and a clue identifying a highly placed English spy in the pay of Napoleon's intelligence service. In a thrilling finale, Patrick O'Brian delivers all the excitement his many readers expect: Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise impose a brutal pax Britannica upon the islanders in a pitched battle against a band of headhunting cannibals.
An immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, displaying all the splendid prose and attention to detail that O'Brian's readers expect. Patrick O'Brian's first novel about the sea, The Golden Ocean, took inspiration from Commodore George Anson's fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In The Unknown Shore, O'Brian returns to this rich source and mines it brilliantly for another, quite different tale of exploration and adventure. The Wager was parted from Anson's squadron in the fierce storms off Cape Horn and struggled alone up the coast of Chile until she was driven against the rocks and sank. The survivors were soon involved in trouble of every kind. A surplus of rum, a disappearing stock of food, and a hard, detested captain soon drove them into drunkenness, mutiny, and bloodshed. After many months of privation, a handful of men made their way northward under the guidance of a band of Indians, at last finding safety in Valparaiso. This saga of survival is the background to the adventures of two young men aboard the Wager: midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon's mate. Patrick O'Brian's many devoted readers will take particular interest in this story, as Jack and Toby form a kind of blueprint for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the famed heroes of the great Aubrey/Maturin series to come.