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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 (Book 1)
Master and Commander (Book 1)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 8) (Book 8)
The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 8) (Book 8)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 9) (Book 9)
Treason's Harbour (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 9) (Book 9)
As the title suggests, plenty of espionage and adventure.
 
The Far Side of the World (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 10) (Book 10)
The Far Side of the World (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 10) (Book 10)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 11) (Book 11)
The Reverse of the Medal (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 11) (Book 11)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 12) (Book 12)
The Letter of Marque (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 12) (Book 12)
Aubrey begins to rebound from his difficulties in the previous book and takes on a new role.
 
The Thirteen-Gun Salute: Aubrey/Maturin (Book 13)
The Thirteen-Gun Salute: Aubrey/Maturin (Book 13)
Aubrey and Maturin are sent to the East Indies to ensure the success of an important diplomatic mission.
 
The Nutmeg of Consolation (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 14) (Book 14)
The Nutmeg of Consolation (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 14) (Book 14)
Aubrey takes command of a new ship and sails for the penal colony of New South Wales.
 
The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15) (Book 15)
The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15) (Book 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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 16) (Book 16)
The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 16) (Book 16)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 17) (Book 17)
The Commodore (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 17) (Book 17)
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 (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 18) (Book 18)
The Yellow Admiral (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 18) (Book 18)
Aubrey is stuck on the Brest blockade squadron serving under an admiral intent on ruining his career.
 
The Hundred Days (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 19) (Book 19)
The Hundred Days (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 19) (Book 19)
Aubrey and Maturin are on a mission to disrupt Napoleon's plans in the Mediterranean.
 
Blue at the Mizzen (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 20) (Book 20)
Blue at the Mizzen (Aubrey/Maturin Novels, 20) (Book 20)
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
The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels
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 (Book 21)
21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey: Including Facsimile of the Manuscript (Book 21)
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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