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Master and Commander: The Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian

Updated on July 28, 2012
MacPharlain profile image

MacPharlain enjoys reading good books from many genres. His favorite is historical fiction and his favorite author is Patrick O'Brian.

Master and Commander

"The best historical novels ever written." - Richard Snow, The New York Times

The "Master and Commander" series of books written by Patrick O'Brian is full of action, adventure, intrigue and historical insight. Set during the early 19th century, these books are a joy to read for any fan of historical fiction, sailing, naval history or just great literature.

O'Brian's storytelling and character development abilities are incredible. I recently finished reading the last book of the series and recommend that you read the series in order (see list below) to maintain plot continuity and get the most enjoyment from each novel.

This series of novels is commonly referred to as the "Aubrey-Maturin" series since it is centered on the close relationship and adventures of the two main characters, Captain Jack Aubrey and naturalist/intelligence agent Dr. Stephen Maturin. Some fans also refer to it as the "Aubreyad".

The Books - The series in order of publication.

Master and Commander
Master and Commander

Introduces the main characters to the reader and each other. A lot of battle action and detail about life on board ship. A great read, even if you don't intend to read the series.

 
Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin)
Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin)

The 1st half started a little slow for me (all on land), but it sets up several pieces for storylines in the following books and the action picked up in the 2nd half.

 
H. M. S. Surprise (Aubrey / Maturin)
H. M. S. Surprise (Aubrey / Maturin)

Aubrey takes his 1st command of the Surprise and sails to the East Indies and India. Lots of action when the Surprise meets up with the British China fleet then the French squadron sent to capture them.

 
The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin )
The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin )

Another exciting read as Aubrey is given command of a squadron to take the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean from the French.

 
Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin)
Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin)

A thrilling encounter with a larger enemy warship drives Aubrey and his crew into the lower forties of the Atlantic.

 

Books 6-10

The Fortune of War  (Aubrey / Maturin)
The Fortune of War (Aubrey / Maturin)

This book finds Aubrey and Maturin returning to England as the War of 1812 begins. They are witness to the dramatic real life battle between HMS Java and USS Constitution in the South Atlantic and the battle between HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake off of Boston.

 
The Surgeon's Mate (Aubrey/Maturin)
The Surgeon's Mate (Aubrey/Maturin)

After an exciting chase across the North Atlantic, Aubrey and Maturin are ordered to the Baltic Sea on a challenging mission.

 
The Ionian Mission (Vol. Book 8)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Ionian Mission (Vol. Book 8) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey and Maturin return to the Mediterranean to join the Toulon blockade and conduct diplomatic missions with the Turks of the Ionian islands.

 
Treason's Harbour (Vol. Book 9)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
Treason's Harbour (Vol. Book 9) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

As the title suggests, plenty of espionage and adventure.

 
The Far Side of the World (Vol. Book 10)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Far Side of the World (Vol. Book 10) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

The one the movie was based off of. Great story and much more different from the movie than I expected.

 

Books 11-15

The Reverse of the Medal (Vol. Book 11)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Reverse of the Medal (Vol. Book 11) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Starts with the voyage back from the far side of the world and new problems arise for Aubrey and Maturin upon their return to England.

 
The Letter of Marque (Vol. Book 12)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Letter of Marque (Vol. Book 12) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey begins to rebound from his difficulties in the previous book and takes on a new role.

 
The Thirteen-Gun Salute: Aubrey/Maturin
The Thirteen-Gun Salute: Aubrey/Maturin

Aubrey and Maturin are sent to the East Indies to ensure the success of an important diplomatic mission.

 
The Nutmeg of Consolation (Vol. Book 14)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Nutmeg of Consolation (Vol. Book 14) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey takes command of a new ship and sails for the penal colony of New South Wales.

 
The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15)
The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15)

Titled "Clarissa Oakes" outside of the US. Discontent and jealousy emerge in the gunroom when one of the midshipmen stows away a female convict from New South Wales.

 

Books 16-20

The Wine-Dark Sea (Vol. Book 16)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Wine-Dark Sea (Vol. Book 16) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Plenty of excitement in this one as Maturin finally gets to conduct his mission in South America and the Surprise battles both an enemy and the elements while rounding Cape Horn.

 
The Commodore (Vol. Book 17)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Commodore (Vol. Book 17) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey takes command of a squadron assigned to disrupt the slave trade and intercept a French task force on its way to invade Ireland.

 
The Yellow Admiral (Vol. Book 18)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Yellow Admiral (Vol. Book 18) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey is stuck on the Brest blockade squadron serving under an admiral intent on ruining his career.

 
The Hundred Days (Vol. Book 19)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The Hundred Days (Vol. Book 19) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Aubrey and Maturin are on a mission to disrupt Napoleon's plans in the Mediterranean.

 
Blue at the Mizzen (Vol. Book 20)  (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
Blue at the Mizzen (Vol. Book 20) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

The Surprise attempts to sail around the Horn on its way to support the Chilean independence effort.

 

Collector's Items

The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Vol. 5 volumes)
The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Vol. 5 volumes)

The complete set in hardcover. A great value if you intend to read the entire series or want a set that you can pass down through the generations.

 
21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey: Including Facsimile of the Manuscript
21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey: Including Facsimile of the Manuscript

This book presents the unfinished handwritten and typed manuscripts that O'Brian had written for the 21st book before his death.

 

Patrick O'Brian [ Join Now | Ring Hub | Random | << Prev | Next >> ]

Patrick O'Brian was born Richard Patrick Russ and died in January 2000 at the age of 85. During his lifetime he was an ambulance driver, a hunter, a World War II intelligence analyst, a winemaker, a translator of books and an author.

O'Brian authored several novels and numerous short stories prior to writing the Aubrey-Maturin series. He also won acclaim for his biography, Picasso. Given the quality and number of Aubrey-Maturin books, it is amazing to learn that O'Brian didn't begin writing the series until he was in his 50s.

The Patrick O'Brian Compendium

A site honoring the author and full of additional reference links.


Patrick O'Brian Visits the HMS Rose

As part of the release of The Commodore, Patrick O'Brian visited the HMS Rose in New York City in 1995. This ship would later play the role of Jack Aubrey's HMS Surprise in the 2003 movie, "Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World".


Patrick O'Brian : A Life
Patrick O'Brian : A Life

An interesting biography of Patrick O'Brian that effectively relates elements of O'Brian's life to his Aubrey and Maturin characters and their stories. I'm nearly finished reading it.

 
Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist, 1914-1949
Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist, 1914-1949

This biography is written by O'Brian's stepson and covers the first half of O'Brian's life before he began writing the Aubrey-Maturin series.

 

Companion Books - For "Master and Commander" fans...

O'Brian's writing is true to the language and nautical terminology of the time period. This can make for a challenging read in spots, but it's a worthy challenge. The books listed below are great resources to help you in this journey.

A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian

A guide to the nautical terms and other references of the time used in the books.

 
Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World
Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World

A very educational primer on the history, ships, wars, leaders and traditions of the Royal Navy during Jack Aubrey's lifetime.

 
Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War
Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War

Cut-away views and descriptions of Lord Admiral Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory.

 
Harbors and High Seas, 3rd Edition : An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian, Third Edition
Harbors and High Seas, 3rd Edition : An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian, Third Edition

Provides background info along with maps and charts organized for each of the Aubrey-Maturin books.

 

Master and Commander Cover Art Posters

by Geoff Hunt

Artist Geoff Hunt created the cover art for each book in the Aubrey/Maturin series. His attention to detail and historical accuracy in his works was well respected by Patrick O'Brian. You can buy artwork by Geoff Hunt at Art.com.

Master and Commander


The Mauritius Command


The Thirteen Gun Salute

See The Movie - Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World

The movie based on books 1 and 10. Please visit Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World to learn more.

Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Collector's Edition)

I have this version. Great extra feature on the making of the movie.

 

Are you a fan of the Master and Commander series or interested in reading it? Please leave your entry in the log...

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    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 3 years ago

      This is probably the best series of books that I've ever read. Keep meaning to get a copy of the final unfinished book. May start rereading again very soon

    • wyattfairlead profile image

      wyattfairlead 4 years ago

      I am a great fan of the Master and Commander series. I happened upon them by accident and have been slowly working at getting them all. (I am still missing quite a few.) The more of them I read, the more I Iike them. Patrick O'Brian has a fantastic way with words and description.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      Master and Commander are really a fantastic book series. Have featured this lens on my review of World Without End.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      Thanks for visiting my Master and Commander book review lens. I didn't know the series was also called the Aubreyad. Glad to find another fan. These are the only novels I've ever read more than once... I've just started my third go-round this month.

    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 5 years ago

      One of my favourite authors. THanks for this, I'll re read them all now I've read yuor review. Then, I suppose, I have to re read all of ALexander Kent, Douglas Reeman, etc etc. Great stuff; Thanks for providing inspiration for a read.

    • ComfortsOfHome profile image

      ComfortsOfHome 5 years ago

      I loved these books, read a few of them more than once. It's so easy to get swept away to a very different time in these stories.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Loved the movie, haven't read any of the books. I'm in school and don't have much time for leisure reading, but the series seems like something I would enjoy and I hope to get to it someday.

    • MacPharlain profile image
      Author

      MacPharlain 5 years ago

      @anonymous: The only US edition difference I know of is that book 15 in the series was titled "The Truelove" in the US and "Clarissa Oakes" in other countries.

      I don't have any info on first editions. Check The Patrick O'Brian Compendium and The Gunroom. They're both excellent sites for O'Brian fans and may have what you're looking for.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hoping to find websites with more information regarding determining first editions of this series, and maybe some of the differences between US editions and UK editions.

    • Hobgoblin LM profile image

      Hobgoblin LM 5 years ago

      I have read all of these books umpteen times (once I reach the end of the series I start again at the beginning) and enjoy them every single time. Cool lens.

    • AaronSquid profile image

      AaronSquid 5 years ago

      I read these stories a few years ago and I agree, they are some of the best historical fiction around. I'll definitely be reading them (all) again.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is by far the best site for basic information on the most wonderful high adventure series ever. I guess hat means I'll have to join Squidoo now...OK

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 6 years ago

      Great Lens! I love the books. Have you run across this fun book? Lobscouse &amp; Spotted Dog: Which It's the Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels. A couple fans decided to cook all the recipes from O'Brian's books... even the rats! Fascinating. Squid Angel blessed.

    • MacPharlain profile image
      Author

      MacPharlain 6 years ago

      @cdevries: Thanks! Aye, I've heard of the "Lobscouse &amp; Spotted Dog" book but never read it. There are many interesting dishes mentioned in the series.

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      Actually I was not a big fan, since when a dear friend of mine started calling me "Stephen Maturin".... so I had to find out if it was something good or not!!!! :)

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 6 years ago

      Love the books and movie.

    • MacPharlain profile image
      Author

      MacPharlain 6 years ago

      @MamaBelle: Enjoy!

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Half way through my first Patrick O'Brian book, great read, I am already a fan.

      Glad I found your lense.

    • MacPharlain profile image
      Author

      MacPharlain 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Totally agree. I haven't started reading it a second time yet but did listen to "Master and Commander" on audio book after I finished reading the series. Funny thing about that was hearing how many of the old naval terms I mispronounced when I read it.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'm going through them for the second time in a row and don't know how I'll ever stop. These are the best novels I've ever read.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      great books and the inspiration taken from Thomas Cochrane's real-life story - I've lensrolled to my 'Unsung heroes' lens.

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      BarbaraCasey 6 years ago

      The only novels I've ever read more than once. The characters are delicious.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I must be one of the original addicts - I read them all, pretty much as they were published. I am also a fan of Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, on whose exploits many of Aubrey's are based. (Likewise Hornblower, of course). Tom Muir

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      Allan R. Wallace 9 years ago from Wherever Human Rights Reign

      Exciting and informative books so far, I still have several to read.

    • CrystalDBooth profile image

      Crystal Booth 10 years ago from Stroud, OK

      Wonderful lens here! Thanks for joining the Favorite Authors and Novels Group. Hope to see you in the members area! ~ Crystal