Master and Commander: The Aubrey-Maturin Series by 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.
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.
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.
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.
Another exciting read as Aubrey is given command of a squadron to take the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean from the French.
A thrilling encounter with a larger enemy warship drives Aubrey and his crew into the lower forties of the Atlantic.
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.
After an exciting chase across the North Atlantic, Aubrey and Maturin are ordered to the Baltic Sea on a challenging mission.
Aubrey and Maturin return to the Mediterranean to join the Toulon blockade and conduct diplomatic missions with the Turks of the Ionian islands.
As the title suggests, plenty of espionage and adventure.
The one the movie was based off of. Great story and much more different from the movie than I expected.
Official "Master and Commander" Websites
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.
Aubrey begins to rebound from his difficulties in the previous book and takes on a new role.
Aubrey and Maturin are sent to the East Indies to ensure the success of an important diplomatic mission.
Aubrey takes command of a new ship and sails for the penal colony of New South Wales.
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.
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.
Aubrey takes command of a squadron assigned to disrupt the slave trade and intercept a French task force on its way to invade Ireland.
Aubrey is stuck on the Brest blockade squadron serving under an admiral intent on ruining his career.
Aubrey and Maturin are on a mission to disrupt Napoleon's plans in the Mediterranean.
The Surprise attempts to sail around the Horn on its way to support the Chilean independence effort.
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.
This book presents the unfinished handwritten and typed manuscripts that O'Brian had written for the 21st book before his death.
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.
A site honoring the author and full of additional reference links.
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".
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.
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 guide to the nautical terms and other references of the time used in the books.
A very educational primer on the history, ships, wars, leaders and traditions of the Royal Navy during Jack Aubrey's lifetime.
Cut-away views and descriptions of Lord Admiral Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory.
Provides background info along with maps and charts organized for each of the Aubrey-Maturin books.
Master and Commander Cover Art Posters
Master and Commander
The Mauritius Command
The Thirteen Gun Salute
Experience The Life Of Jack Aubrey
- Tour A Tall Ship
A fun way to learn more about life aboard ship and increase your enjoyment of these books is to tour a ship of the era. This site is a directory of tall ships around the world that you can tour. It includes info on touring the HMS Rose (which played
- Sail A Tall Ship
For the adventurous, this site highlights tall ships around the world that you can sail on as a trainee crew member. Most are also available for charter cruises.
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.
I have this version. Great extra feature on the making of the movie.
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