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The Fortune of War (Aubrey & Maturin #6)

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  8,655 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
Captain Jack Aubrey, R.N., arrives in the Dutch East Indies to find himself appointed to the command of the fastest and best-armed frigate in the navy. He and his friend Stephen Maturin take passage for England in a dispatch vessel. But the War of 1812 breaks out while they are en route. Bloody actions precipitate them both into new and unexpected scenes where Stephen's pa ...more
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Published July 5th 2000 by Random House Audio (first published 1978)
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Feb 16, 2017 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2017
"A noble spread of sails, upon my word"
- Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War


There is a danger in writing a review of these books too soon after finishing them. If it is possible to describe my reception of a book of literature as somehow the equivalent of love, these books by O'Brian would certainly be a top contender for one of the great literature loves of my life. No. This isn't Shakespeare, but often even Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare. But these books are something. They are beyond prose and
Jason Koivu
How much do I love these books? Let me count the far, we're up to six. Six splendiferous volumes of early 19th century seafaring goodness!

By the sixth of this series of twenty, I was fully enamored of the characters, the story, the writing - the whole kit and kaboodle! Although I've become more critical in my appraisal of O'Brian's work with each rereading, it still stands up as some of my favorite writing of all time. Granted, to be sympatico as book besties, you too would need to be
Jan 10, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

I see no sign of diminishing interest in the Aubrey-Maturin adventures for me. Like one of the frigates described here, the series pushes on with all sails hoisted proudly, with a fair wind pushing the friends forward to distant, exotic shores.
These winds were actually tempestuous in the last installment (Desolation Island), describing one of the most fraught with danger and disaster journeys, as plague, Dutch raiders, hurricanes, icebergs, mutiny on board and hostile American sloops prevent Jac
Avast there ye swabs!

I’ll translate for yous..... Hello folks!

A grand series is this & i’m sure it gets better with every read, each tale easier to get into than the last, much smoother in its storytelling & this time even a little backfill (via a despatch letter) as the story continues straight after Desolation Island which is most welcome to this reader as he ages......

We start in the East Indies & a little landlubbing is done before we set to the high seas, less lubbing than nor
Sherwood Smith
One of my favorites, in which Stephen gets to be seriously badass.

There are two ship battles, both based on historical battles, complete to living commanders. To get Jack Aubrey in, he has to be a guest, and then a prisoner of war. We also see them in a shipwreck. It's interesting to see Jack under extreme duress, in circumstances he cannot control, and Stephen's internal life, while always fascinating, brings him near to discovery.

Diana Villiers is back, complicated, in as much turmoil as Steph
Mar 22, 2014 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-audio
The stories have really turned into a series with this book, more than the others. This one did not start off with Jack and Stephen at home in England. They were going home, but were captured by an American ship and taken to Boston, as prisoners of war after the War of 1812 broke out between England and the United States. Jack was hurt badly and Stephen was not sure he was going to save his right arm for a while. Then he gets pneumonia.

Stephen spends much of his time, when not with Jack, trying
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I know that some might be tempted to label this, the sixth installment in the 'Aubreyiad,' to be "slow." In actuality, this novel is one of the most brilliantly crafted and erudite novels written in the English language. Like peeling an onion, the reader discovers in the layers that Patrick O'Brian has not only provided some incredible naval action with the great guns and all; but has also taken the opportunity to provide a significant amount of backstory and extensive character development asso ...more
(Listened to the unabridged audiobook, narrated by Patrick Tull.)

Huzzah, I finally liked Diana in this one. Don't get me wrong - she's sassy and tough and has great one-liners, but in this one she really had me LOLing with her comments on her American lover, the "parish bull" Johnson. I actually felt sorry for the poor woman. Overall she seemed less the callous and bitchy femmy fataly than in previous books. My only regret is that a stupid American ship prevented her and Stephen from tying the k
Nov 19, 2008 Ken-ichi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, they're like candy. Even episodes like this one which take place predominantly on shore, as Jack and Stephen are "held" as prisoners of war in Boston. Naval warfare in this age just seems so preposterous in these books that I have difficulty believing it, but by all reports O'Brian was a fastidious scholar, so I guess I have to. Treating your defeated opponent to the highest civilities in the name of honor while simultaneously crystalizing the shame of defeat in the same act just seems ...more
Jun 04, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
In which Maturin and Aubrey become prisoners of war of the newly formed United States, both are suspected of being spies, and Diana Villers is back. Daring escapes! Love affairs! Cold blooded murders! And of course, exciting ship battles!

It's a bit odd to see the early US from a British POV, especially since so many of the American characters seem to think they're British. Aubrey and Maturin are in fine form once more--their banter is top notch, and I love the little moments where the reader can
Jul 02, 2015 NMCannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series. I love how fleshed out Jack & Stephen are, how O'Brian fits in little fun moments between them in story full of life-threatening adventures. O'Brian's style and evident research continues in strength through book 6, with extra emphasis on spycraft and the ins and outs of Stephen's complicated heart. The Aubrey/Maturin remains my go-to definitive work when I long for the Age of Sail, and I look forward to the rest of the series.
Nov 12, 2008 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sixth Aubry/Maturin — and they keep getting better and better, Brian finds the two friends prisoners of the Americans, the War of 1812 having begun. And not auspiciously for the British. The Americans with a completely volunteer navy (no press gangs for them) have been more than competently trained by their British cousins and have become more than a match for the British, who have become used to sweeping the seas of all opposition. The British have been blockading Boston and, to their humil ...more
Anne L.
Nov 06, 2011 Anne L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you like battles, intrigue, world travel, exotic locales and foods, humor, and all things nautical? Then the Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian are for you. But I must warn you, work your way through the series sequentially for your first read, else you’ll be lost. But once you’ve met the cast of fantastic characters and can make your way around a British man-of-war or frigate, feel free to dip into any book for a vacation from the mundane world. The books revolve around the friendship ...more
Julie Davis
After the heroics of Desolation Island I just had to keep going for the next Aubrey-Maturin adventure ... Patrick Tull narrating as always.

I'm especially interested in this one since the Americans are going to war with the British. There's a nice set up bridging from Desolation Island to this book where you find out that neither Lucky Jack nor Doctor Maturin approve of war with America, for varying reasons. So that leaves us free to watch as the inevitable war looms nearer and nearer.

I'm in the
Dec 22, 2008 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I got a little bit too eager about this one--not that it was bad, not in the slightest, but more that I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't quite as fantabulous as I was hoping.

There was some great Stephen mileage, to be sure, but not nearly enough Jack. Part of this of course has to be attributed to the fact that Jack spends most of the book wounded and ill, and O'Brian seems to shunt a lot of that kind of thing off-camera. Even when we get some good Jack mileage, it's only passing
Jun 06, 2011 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Picking up right where the previous book, Desolation Island, left off, this chapter in the ongoing “Aubreyad” finds Stephen and Jack sailing into the Spice Islands, where they hitch a ride home on a boat that burns; nearly dying of thirst, they sail to another ship, only to be taken prisoner by an American vessel, as the war of 1812 has just broken out. Prisoners in Boston, Stephen finds himself the interest of an American intelligence officer who is rather chummy with the French, and his identi ...more
Jul 17, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereading
Finished rereading this around 6/25/16, almost 3 years after reading it the first time. It's a good amount of time actually, enough distance that I can be surprised but I'm still comforted by knowing the broad strokes.

Like really every book in this series it's exciting, and well written and full of allusions and call backs and foreshadowing and just real dang good. I think I like this entry in the series particularly because even though there're two excellent sea battles and a harrowing lost at
Jul 20, 2011 Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another four star winner. The damn things are so consistent, yet varied as well. For the money, this one has more suspense than the previous five by far, and Aubrey isn't even in command of a vessel in this novel. It's another book given over more to Maturin and his spycraft. And yet the final third of the novel features some deft maneuvering by Aubrey, both on land and at sea. The pages really fly by in this one. O'Brian's solution to the problem of tying his protagonists in to real world event ...more
Mike Rogers
Jan 16, 2012 Mike Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Fortune of War" is the sixth book in Patrick O'Brian's amazing Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels about the British Navy (for further explanation, and a review of the first book in the series, see my review of "Master & Commander"). In this installment, much of the action actually takes place in America. It's the War of 1812 and the British have suffered a number of setbacks in the Atlantic. "Lucky" Jack Aubrey's vessel is defeated and captured which sets up the action on shore ...more
this was the weakest in the series so far, i think. started out well enough with some taut naval action that leaves our heroes in an open boat and at the mercy of the fates, but once they are rescued and subsequently captured and end up in America things get dull for more than 100 pages; just a lot of endless nattering about Stephen's dull spy intrigues and a stupid love intrigue between Diana, Louisa, Herapath, and Johnson.

it probably says more about me than the books that i can't stand Diana
Edward Erdelac
Jun 18, 2011 Edward Erdelac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Jack is grounded in Boston after his ship the Java is taken by the Constitution in the War of 1812. As longtime readers know, being landlocked is Jack's kryptonite, and there's a hilarious bit in here where he's held over in a lunatic asylum and mistakes a contingent of American naval officials as inmates. Meanwhile, Stephen Maturin is practically the star of this adventure, pulling the wool over French intelligent agents' eyes in spectacular fashion and pulling Diana Villiers out of ...more
Feb 20, 2016 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sea-and-sailors
Finally one of O'Brians Aubrey-Maturin novels in which Dr. Maturin comes out of the shadow, and the obligatory victorious naval battle is reduced to 15 minutes (that's not a spoiler in my review, is it?). Not that I have anything against the naval battle accounts, but nice to see some variation on the theme of the novel series. I was again (like with the previous novels in the series) thoroughly amused by the book!
David Miller
pros- enemy is mostly americans and set largely in boston so that is more relatable for me than desolation island or india etc so that was nice
cons- not nearly enough of jack fighting on sea. even tho i know captain jack is gonna win i still love to read it! during one major battle in this book he is essentially a spectator noting things that are going wrong. i wanted him to be like 'dont u know who i am? im freaking lucky jack aubry! get out the way and i'm taking over ...'
J. Carroll
Mar 03, 2012 J. Carroll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is O'Brian at his finest. There is plenty of action in the sweeping story, and plenty of tension. The real payoff is in the deep exploration of Stephen's character. The dialog sparkles and the setting of a fogbound 1813 Boston is simply superb. Desolation Island, this book and The Surgeon's Mate are, I think, the strongest three of the entire series. Intrigue, adventure and humor are never better and O'Brian's style is at its high point.
Jan 25, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another enjoyable chapter in this very long saga. Some of these books can bog down in details and story, but not this one. It is especially interesting to see the development of the American Revolution from the British point of view, and especially from a point of view that's not connected to policy, but only tangentially related to (but certainly very affected by) the uprising and war.
Jun 20, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack and Stephen spend some time in Boston (involuntarily) and their incredible adventures continue.
I think for the first time in my life I was actually rooting against the Americans. O'Brian is magnificent once again!
Nov 19, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my favorite of the Aubrey/Maturin books so far. It had everything: excessively detailed seafaring jargon, espionage and spy adventures, daring escapes, wry humor, and of course Diana Villiers.
Roger Burk
Jun 27, 2016 Roger Burk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasure
Aubrey and Maturin during the War of 1812. Great bloody fun. The Brits are much put out by the loss of Macedonian, Guerrier, Java, and Peacock, without any victories to set against them. O'Brian is quite complementary to the American Navy.
Oct 01, 2007 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audio book version.

Wonderful adventure. And yes, even though this is a novel, it's like having a front row seat to history, ending with the famous navel battle of the USS Chesapeake and the HMS Shannon.
Mar 02, 2015 Victor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Aubrey / Maturin series is filled with the thrill of adventure. This particular book is no exception. ...
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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).

Set in the
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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 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)
  • The Reverse of the Medal (Aubrey/Maturin Book, #11)

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“...looking angrily at the wombat: and a moment later, 'Come now, Stephen, this is coming it pretty high: your brute is eating my hat.'
'So he is, too,' said Dr. Maturin. 'But do not be perturbed, Jack; it will do him no harm, at all. His digestive processes--”
“Wallis,' said Maturin, 'I am happy to see you. How is your penis?” 13 likes
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