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The Thirteen-Gun Salute (Aubrey & Maturin #13)

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  4,875 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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 diplo

Paperback, Alternate Cover 039330907X, 9780393309072, 319 pages
Published 1992 by Norton (first published 1989)
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Glad I bought the next two, because this doesn't end at the end. Scads of good fun, as always. Probably the most memorable part of this adventure was Stephen's trip to the Buddhist temple, where men and beasts live together in harmony and Stephen basically gets to have the on-shore naturalizing experience he is repeatedly denied while sailing with Jack. Too good. Also, enemy dissection.

Words & Notes

p. 29 As usual, Stephen is at the cutting edge of medical technology, stocking "plaster of Par
At some point O'Brian decided this series would go on indefinitely. The structure of some of the books then became odd. There are some that don't end - they just stop. There's an obvious on-going, unresolved plot but - tough luck - you're gonna hafta wait for the next volume to get a resolution. This is one of them. It ends with a cliff-hanger (which some don't) and for some reason it's easier to handle then when a book just stops apparently arbitrarily.

So, thirteen books in and it's getting har
Jason Koivu
Out of all of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series up to this point, The Thirtheen-Gun Salute gets further away from the sea battles and life aboard ship to really delve into the interior of a new and exciting frontier (in the eyes of the characters as set in a pre-"Planet Earth" world) and paints a not-always-pretty picture of diplomacy in the Far East as it was some 200 years ago. O'Brian describes Maturin's jungle romp in such flowing and absorbing detail that it reads as vividly as watching any o ...more
Now that Aubrey is restored to the King's Navy once more, he's off on another mission, this time to Malaysia. His particular friend, Dr.Stephen Maturin, is along to spy on the French's forces in Malaysia. (view spoiler) ...more
Another solid entry in the Aubrey-Maturin saga, The Thirteen-Gun Salute finds our seagoing protagonists heading to the South China Sea on a diplomatic mission.

By this thirteenth book, titles are starting to feel more like arbitrary chunks of the ongoing dual biography than discrete novels. A high degree of familiarity with the series is presumed, but for dedicated readers this is part of the charm.

Highlights include Dr. Maturin's sojourn at a Buddhist temple in an isolated volcanic crater -- a
Dull, dull, dull. I could not get into this story with the endless expeditions by Stephen to see all manner of flora and fauna and I heard as much as I would like to know about orangutans. I know this was his cover, but this stuff went on and on and on to the point where my mind wandered, waiting for something else to happen.

The only interesting part was where Jack got his commission back in the Royal Navy and this could have been told in a short story, which perhaps this story should have been.
K.M. Weiland
After more than a year's hiatus from my favorite maritime series, all I can sigh is: I love these stories. Patrick O'Brian may well be the most brilliant man to ever put pen to page. This installment easily bears up to its predecessors, with its subtle humor, nuanced characters, and balanced pacing. Can't wait for the next one!
The saga continues, but it's starting to drag. Ended with a real cliffhanger.

cover art: It's so refreshing to have cover art depicting an identifiable scene from the text. This series is much the exception in that most of it's cover art does.
I am morally obligated at this point to give every single book in the Aubreid a 5-star rating, and honestly even the worst books in the series don't earn the designation "worst" so much as "not quite as perfectly amazing." In a previous review, I think I mentioned that the mostly-ashore, Stephen-centric volumes appeal to me less--partially because I'm so greedy for all the beautiful nautical detail, the loving descriptions of the sea, and as much time spent with Jack Aubrey as possible, so anyon ...more
The thirteen-gun salute is the number of volleys given in honor of an ambassador, an envoy, and that title here presages a tale of a diplomatic mission that Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin are assigned on behalf of England.

But first, we find Aubrey still sailing the Surprise as in the last book, The Letter of Marque. That changes rather quickly, although never quick enough for Jack, when he is reinstated to the Royal Navy because of his exploits on behalf of the nation as a privateer
Jeff LeMaster
Whenever a dignitary comes aboard one of the King’s ships, there is always a thundering salute from the cannons, the number of discharges determined by the rank of the honored guest. Thirteen guns is the right, proper salute for a royal ambassador, and Captain Aubrey has been commissioned to deliver the King’s representative from London safely around the world to a strategic Pacific post in the early nineteenth century British Empire.

The highlight of the book is the pilgrimage Dr. Steven Maturin
EJD Dignan
Repeated from review of Book 1

That Patrick O'Brian chose to place his characters on the sea in the not so distant past just raised the hurdle I had to leap to get to know this wonderful author.

I had never been enamored with sea stories, didn't much care for European history, and yet was wonderfully taken with this series. The sea is a major character, but history is not greatly illuminated, almost a backdrop to the specific circumstance the characters find themselves in. Which perhaps reflects t
I've enjoyed the whole Aubrey-Maturin series very much -- I'm up to book 16 now -- but I've singled this one out as a 'favourite'. Taken as a whole, it isn't the best in the series, as I couldn't muster much interest in the politics of the invented island state our heroes visit. Of course, being a minor entry in the Aubrey-Maturin series still makes it better than most other novels.

What makes it a favourite is the chapter where Stephen, accompanied by an orang-utan, climbs a mountain to visit a
I usually don’t read series that contain more than 5-7 books. Most authors should really stick to trilogies. You know how it is – predictability sets in, each book follows the same basic template, and the series loses its charm. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series is the first series I’ve found that defies this rule.

But I’m probably preaching to the choir. If you’ve gotten this far in the series, you know why you should read this book. The deep and ever maturing characters – the exciting nav
Glad the continuing (and slow) storyline with Wray and Ledward was finally brought to a close. I was getting a bit tired of them lurking about. Though (view spoiler) was worth the slog.

This lacked the excitement of previous books, especially the at-sea bits. I listened to it with a disinterested ear for the most part, though there were were some high points. A sign that I might not have been fully engaged by one of the Aubrey volum
Richard E.
Series Overview.

I fell in love with the series from the opening scene of Master and Commander, and went on to read all 20 Aubrey-Maturin novels. The characters of Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin were initialized in that opening scene, and grew through the entire series. This is the best historical fiction I have read. In the series, I learned about British, French, Dutch, and Spanish naval operations during the Napoleonic wars. I also first learned of Napoleon's command and espionage structu
Max R.
I read the entire series during 2013, and from time to time I pick one out at random in order to revisit such wonderful writing and such memorable characters as Aubrey and Maturin. At the moment, it's "The Thirteen-Gun Salute" -- but it might have been any of these outstanding historical novels.

Most of all, it's the deep and abiding friendship between the two men that makes it such a pleasure for me. At one point in the series, perhaps in the final unfinished book entitled "21", Aubrey remarks i
Christopher Taylor
Re-reading this book was a struggle to not race ahead, and to instead enjoy the story as it was told. The events of Thirteen-Gun Salute were so fresh in my mind that I knew what major events were coming up and why, and anticipated them greatly.

A well told story again, with great literary ability as Patrick O'Brian has by this point become very accustomed to and comfortable with the language and the patterns of his writing. The pair set out on a very long voyage, but are called back only to set o
Joel Margolese
An bit of a refreshing change in the series. We're in the post-battle phase. I don't know if there will be more in future books, but perhaps the Naval battles were just ending at this point in the 1800's.

While this book has the usual intrigues with Maturin's spy work, it was actually somewhat clearer than in some past books. And there is a terrific scene where Maturin travels to a Buddhist temple and really communes with nature.

I always enjoy their use of language. I'm always amazed at how these
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Duncan Mandel
SUMMARY: 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 a ...more
The thirteenth in this maritime series is and transcends the genre, as do its predecessors. The plot arcs laced through this ocean voyage around the cape of Africa with Captain Jack Aubry and his friend Steven Maturin to the East Indies on a diplomatic mission during the Napoleonic Wars unfold graceful rythm. The spy-craft story within a story could stand alone. The 19th century narrative style is especially lyrical in its depictions of the wonder of discovery in the early age of scientific expl ...more
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
As always, I loved this next "chapter" in the continuing story of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. What stuck me the must in this re-reading of this volume is both how warm Maturin can be--when he visits the Buddhist temple ground--and how utterly cold and merciless he can be when he finally catches up with two old enemies.
Great like the whole series. Well written. A joy to read slowly. This novel seems very transitory to winding up a couple loose ends hanging the past couple books and going into some new directions. I love the Maturin side of this novel with Van Buren and his explorations of Buddhist paradise...lovely.
Captain Jack Aubrey is a Royal Naval officer in the British Navy in the early 18th century. His close friend and ship's doctor is Stephen Maturin, an Irish Catholic who is also employed be British intelligence. Jack is a larger than life swashbuckler who has been in the navy since he was a lad. He is an avid sailor with a fine touch on his boats. He runs them like thoroughbreds and is always looking at getting the best out of both the ship and the crew. Stephen is more circumspect and uses his w ...more
I was disappointed. Not enough action. Too much time on land in the orient or the middle east or wherever it was that they went. Not enough cannons.
Prior to re-reading it, this book was a blur to me - Aubrey and Maturin go to the South Seas and Maturin conducts an intelligence mission. But re-reading it, I found myself enjoying it immensely and was immediately at home, as if I were with warm friends. The chapter where Maturin visits the Buddhist temple in the volcanic crater is wonderful - it could be labeled 'A Time of Wonder' - and seemed very much like Adam returning to Eden.

Four stars instead of five because of chronological problems an
Neil Coulter

What is there to say about the thirteenth book in a series? Anyone who has made it this far is most likely in for the long haul, and whether a particular volume is slightly better or slightly worse than other volumes barely matters. The Aubrey/Maturin series has, for me, reached a point in which the plot points seem reminiscent of plots that have already happened, and each book is a little more of the story, rather than developing a distinct theme of its own. O'Brian seems so immersed in the era

This book marks the turning point in Jack Aubrey's life. He had earlier been expelled from his beloved Royal Navy's officers' listings as a result of getting caught up in personal financial scandals. In the last book, he acquitted himself exceptionally well, showing bravery and intelligence in the command of a ship under letter of marque. He has now had his good name restored and is happily reinstated as a Post Captain by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Melville, brother of Jack's close fr ...more
Since all these books involve the same two men sailing around in navy ships, O'Brian has to vary some of the details to make each one unique. In this book, the details that caught my attention had to do with two characters. One was a new character, a diplomat who, because of some personal insecurity that is never fully explained, does not have an accurate sense of the honor and deference that is his due. He usually expects more than he gets. Ironically, this makes him much less respectable.

The o
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Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).

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Other Books in the Series

Aubrey & Maturin (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1)
  • Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2)
  • H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3)
  • The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4)
  • Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5)
  • The Fortune of War (Aubrey/Maturin, #6)
  • The Surgeon's Mate (Aubrey/Maturin, #7)
  • The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin, #8)
  • Treason's Harbour (Aubrey/Maturin #9)
  • The Far Side of the World (Aubrey/Maturin, #10)
Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3) The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4) Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5)

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“First there was the sky, high, pure and of a darker blue than he had ever seen. And then there was the sea, a lighter, immensely luminous blue that reflected blue into the air, the shadows and the sails; a sea that stretched away immeasurably when the surge raised the frigate high, showing an orderly array of great crests, each three furlongs from its predecessor, and all sweeping eastwards in an even, majestic procession.” 4 likes
“What I meant was that if he could induce others to believe what he said, then for him the statement acquired some degree of truth, a reflection of their belief that it was true; and this reflected truth might grow stronger with time and repetition until it became conviction, indistinguishable from ordinary factual truth, or very nearly so.” 3 likes
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