Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin Book 1)
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Master and Commander (Aubrey & Maturin #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  22,529 ratings  ·  1,762 reviews
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lowe...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published 1991 by Recorded Books LLC (first published 1969)
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Stephen
This story posed a bugger of a ratings quandary for yours truly.

While reading it I was bouncing around between everything from a bountiful 5 star rating for pure quality of writing, hefty historical detail and superbly drawn characters, all the way south to a skimpy 2 star for less than engaging plotting, iceberg-like pacing and noticeable lack of emotional resonance. Finally, in my best impression of Solomon, I settled on a solid, if not quite ebullient, 3 stars based on the fact that I was de...more
Brad
ii. I'm at it again, but this time I opened up my Aubrey-Maturin reread by listening. It took a month of commuting, but it was worth the time and the patience, and though I have gleaned no new insights into Master and Commander, my enjoyment of the audio experience was more than fulfilling enough.

O'Brian wasn't a big fan of the audio versions of his books, nor of the men reading them: “To revert to my ideal reader: he would avoid obvious emotion, italics and exclamation marks like the plague -...more
Henry Avila
Jack Aubrey, the frustrated naval officer, at last, after a long wait, on shore, receives his own ship to command, the brig Sophie, but by the strange ways of the British Royal Navy , called a sloop. The year 1800, Napoleon is unstoppable on land, but the British rule the Seas. In Port Mahon, on the Mediterranean island of Minorca, captured from the Spanish, allies of the French. Aubrey tries to gets his ship ready, war rages, it has for many years. He, a music lover, meets Stephen Maturin, on d...more
Jason Koivu
Master and Commander begins English author Patrick O'Brian's lush and literary epic seafaring historical fiction series based on the career of a naval captain during the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

Through out the entire series O'Brian delves into the themes of love, war and friendship. At the heart of M&C is the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey and Irish surgeon and naturalistic Stephen Maturin. When they meet at the book's outset - Aubrey a lieutenant without a ship, Maturin a docto...more
Diane
Ahoy, calling all fans of historical fiction! This first book in Patrick O'Brian's popular series about a captain in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars was a surprising delight.

I say surprising because even though I had seen some great reviews of it by fellow Goodreaders, I was intimidated to read it out of fear of the nautical jargon. I listened to this on audio (narrated by the excellent Simon Vance) and I was glad I also had a print copy handy so I could look up some terms. My edition...more
Kelly
Sep 22, 2009 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 19th century lit and history fans, lovers of a damn fine yarn
Recommended to Kelly by: Sarah
You know, I've often been annoyed by the fact that so many times, I never get to experience something the way it was intended, or to its fullest. Because someone else always gets there first, and someone's else's eyes are always put in front of mine before I get the chance to do it for myself (I recall writing a very emotional paper on Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring, the Chevalier book and the movie that followed along these lines. Yeah, I was a silly teenager). I often see the parodies of...more
Sparrow
This book is very valuable insofar as it has taught me to respect the society of men the way I would respect the circle around a chained-up rabid dog. Usually it seemed like the men were always criticizing each other behind one another's backs and this usually arose from something like “he has slightly insulted my honor or friend, perhaps unintentionally, I'm not going to find out, I'm just going to list off and exaggerate every one of his faults because it will create a deeper bond between me a...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 06, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 100 Must Read Books for Men
Shelves: adventure, guy-lit
Now, this is my favorite maritime historical novel. It has just dislodged Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdhal and Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen. The reason: the detailed and vivid writing of Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000). How could a trained pilot write a 20-novel Aubrey-Maturin (yes, this is 411-page book is just the first) about naval warfare during Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) with such details and jargons as if he was from the era? R...more
Leighton
Apr 25, 2007 Leighton rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of C.S. Forester or Jane Austen
I'm putting this volume on my list to represent the entire twenty-volume series, which I've almost finished now. If you saw the Peter Weir movie, my impression was that the period detail was nice and Russell Crowe was well-cast but the rest of the film really didn't convey what is wonderful about Patrick O'Brian's mind.

These are naval adventure stories, set mostly aboard a British man-of-war during the Napoleonic conflicts. In those respects they are like C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower seri...more
Joe O'Loughlin
"Never mind maneuvers - go straight at 'em!" This describes the main character's temperament perfectly. But when combined with his alter-ego's more calculating nature, the POV is entirely human and utterly compelling in it's contradictions, flaws and dramatic leverage.

This book had everything in it that I love in great books.

The sentence structure and wordplay were so dexterous and pleasing that I chuckled at its art and cleverness. I learned later that Mr. "O'Brian" (his nom de plume, a fact r...more
Ted
The music-room in the Governor’s House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli’s C major quartet. The players … were playing with passionate conviction as they mounted towards the penultimate crescendo, towards the tremendous pause and the deep, liberating final chord.

This quotation is the first sentence of a grand series of stories.

The series. Master and Commander is the first of the so-called Aubrey-Maturin series of histori...more
Cherie
Oh My Goodness! I can't begin to put into words just how much I enjoyed listening to this story! It was unbelievably wonderful listening to Simon Vance bring O'Brian's characters to life.

I am in complete awe at having just discovered this series and knowing there are eighteen more books still to be enjoyed.

How wonderfully well written the characters are and how much I care about them already! I love the doctor and how he writes in his journal about Jack Aubrey and his shipmates.

O'Brian makes l...more
Algernon
Second time lucky: in my first attempt, I put the book away after a chapter and a half, slightly daunted by maritime jargon and a little bored by the lack of action right from the start. I guess it also caught me in a bad spot, too tired to give the story a fair chance, because coming back to it years later, I couldn't put it down, immediately setting aside the other three books I had on. The technical terms are as eclectic and frequent as I remembered (the schematic of a square rigged ship incl...more
Simon
I loved the film, and really, really wanted to love this book (with plans to go on and read others in the series) but with the exception of perhaps the first chapter, I found the first hundred pages to be sheer drudgery. O'Brian is obviously a brilliant writer and scholar, but the lengths to which he luxuriates in nautical lingo - coupled with the already flowery (however beautiful) vernacular of the time - rendered the text incredibly inaccessible in terms of a casual read. I'm years out of sch...more
Heather
I think Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are two of the greatest characters ever. And part of what makes them so great is that POB wasn't afraid to let them be complex and awkward and sad. He wasn't afraid, either, to let them be products of their time. Too often, writers of historical fiction feel like they need to make their characters some kind of historical prodigy -- the 18thC doctor who has discovered that if he feeds his patients this special mold, they'll get better. That sort of thing. B...more
Jon
May 07, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Valerie Neer
Melissa Proffitt
There's a lot to like about this book--about the whole series--but basically I just love Jack Aubrey. He's a big, hearty, uncomplicated guy who loves his physical pleasures, but he's also a romantic and loves music and is really, really good at his job, which is being a Navy captain. Yes, I know, he's really only a lieutenant, but it's obvious that being a captain, sailing and fighting and taking prizes--that's who he is, and you can't imagine him being anything else. And he's not hardened by hi...more
R.S. Carter
There was much to enjoy in this difficult piece of literature. I loved the action scenes and the clever ways Captain Aubrey would pit his tiny vessel against great ships of war and outmaneuver each vessel with thrilling feats of nautical tricks and warfare. I also enjoyed his character - never satisfied or content unless in the arms of a woman or in the heat of a battle. And then there is his companion - the ship's surgeon, Dr. Maturin. He managed to bring clever and often completely inappropria...more
Madeline
I'll be totally honest here: I read this book because I saw the movie version first. There were other reasons, of course - this book (and the entire series) is generally well-reviewed, and my dad is a huge fan of the series. But mostly I picked this up because I freaking love the movie and wanted to see how the book matched up.

Very well, it turns out. Although some good parts from the movie are missing here (like that adorable kid who gets his arm amputated), I didn't mind - Master and Commande...more
Joey Coleman
Hmmmm. I don't quite know what I think of this book, and I really don't know if I'm going to take the plunge into the second installment of the series. The naval jargon is just a wee bit over the top, oftentimes leaving the non-sailing reader completely confused and weighed down with feelings of inadequacy. Nonetheless, the tales related are interesting and the cast of characters deep and well developed. Still, I never woke up with the insatiable urge to pull on my topcoat and head to the quarte...more
Michelle
Behold the cure for insomnia!
sckenda
This, the first in the splendid series of histori­cal novels depicting the Age of Fighting Sail, establishes the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey, RN, and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the r...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
The last time I read (well, listened) to this book, I loved it but didn't LOVE it.

This time, as the closing sentence was uttered in Patrick Tull's mellifluous voice, with Jack Aubrey's court martial ending in his favor (as it must!), I sighed a happy, contented sigh. And immediately scrolled to the next book in the series on the iPod.

I love Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. It's such a bromance. I daresay the best bromance ever written. Both men are so fully-dimensional in their casual asides and...more
Vlad
While author Patrick O'Brian had never been a sailor, he did do a lot of meticulous research about boats and the 19th century British navy. Unfortunately, he felt the need to dump every bit of that research into his debut novel. Instead of picking and choosing which details were relevant, and which could be omitted, he decided to fling every last one into the book.

It's the equivalent of a chef with a stocked kitchen throwing all his ingredients and spices into a giant pot.

The result is a death...more
Sherwood Smith
The first time I read it, I sat down in my reading chair, curious, disengaged, the warm summer air wafting through my open window the distant cries of children running on the grass. Another rereading, during the bleakness of a winter day, the sweet spice of cinnamon-laced hot chocolate at my side; a third image, just a flash, splashing across the deep green lawns of Mount Vernon, the book tucked firmly under my arm to protect it, at least, as I cannot protect my clothing, for I had no idea that...more
Ensiform
A ripping yarn, this long book introduces the unlikely pair Stephen Maturin, learned ship’s surgeon and Captain Aubrey, bluff Epicurean fellow. There’s a series of naval engagements, not much of a plot aside from some business with some Irish rebels which causes dismay with the Irish lieutenant. Anyway, though there’s far too much naval jargon — lengthy paragraphs describing the ship’s movements which may as well be in Greek — the epic creates magic. With its meticulously researched descriptions...more
Mark
I seem to be cursed to encounter and find singularly unimpressive writers who create a huge shelf of books which I long to enjoy and they just don't click. Alexander Mccall Smith and Patrick O'Brian fly to the top of the list. I struggled through two of these, maybe i will try the rest when I run out of anything else.......well it could happen if I stop buying now and live to be one thousand and seven
pete
i honestly dont give all my books 5 stars but this book which starts a series of 21 is among my all-time favorite historical novels. set in the 1800's they describe many of the events that occured with the british in their maritime wars with various countries including france, the u.s., the dutch and the spanish. adventuresome, suspenseful and often humerous...seafaring stories don't get much better than this.
Ron
Apr 14, 2009 Ron rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ron by: Jon moss
Merits three and a half, but I've got to quit competing with Santa Claus.

Good story, well told. I'm sure all the nautical stuff is accurate but laid on so heavily that it sometimes obscured the story and characters. And it's the development and relationship of those characters which makes Master and Commander worth reading.

And it is worth reading.
Kurt
Oct 05, 2011 Kurt rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore nautical history buffs who like the Napoleonic era
I gave up on this book, and I know the fault is mine. People have loved this book (and the series that follows it) for decades, and I just couldn't get into it. After 80 pages of heavy skimming, I quit, and I just can't recommend it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the story, from what I could gather - a man receives command of a ship, and he recruits a friend to be the ship's doctor while he learns about the unexpected challenges of command. The prose is fine, readable but in a style that...more
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Is there any historical fiction writer as good as O'Brian? 86 426 Aug 21, 2014 08:37AM  
Aubrey's purpose in taking the 12 pounders aboard? 8 94 Apr 07, 2013 12:27PM  
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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...more
More about Patrick O'Brian...
H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3) Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4) Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5) The Fortune of War (Aubrey/Maturin, #6)

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“But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.” 92 likes
“For a moment Jack felt the strongest inclination to snatch up his little gilt chair and beat the white-faced man down with it...” 15 likes
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