H.M.S. 'Surprise' (Aubrey & Maturin #3)
Third in the series of Aubrey/Maturin adventures, this book is set among the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and in the distant waters ploughed by the ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. But somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that c...more
The amazing thing about this book is how it takes you on a ride around the world, touching base in England, the Mediterranean, Africa, South America, India and the South Pacific islands. All of this lush scenery is a joy to behold in O'Brian'...more
As the rating attests I enjoyed this book, but I am not sure if I will ever be one of the rabid legion of fans enamoured of Patrick O’Brian’s work. I certainly enjoyed this book much more than I did Master and Commander which, quite frankly, I found opaque and uninteresting. I also skipped over the second book in the series since Aubrey and Maturin on land worrying about their love lives didn’t really seem like the next best point to re-try getting into the series. For some reason I...more
Thus to the Eastern wealth through storms we go;
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more:
A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the spicy shore.
HMS Surprise is the name of the latest command of Captain Jack Aubrey, a frigate with a ragtag crew sent on a solitary mission to the Indian Ocean. The book debuts with a messy affair involving Doctor Aubrey Maturin who is betrayed by his own side and tortured by the French in Minorca and the ususal financial troubles for Ja...more
It opens with Stephen's torture at the hands of the French, and Jack's daring rescue. Captain Jack cares for his wounded friend with a tend...more
This book includes some extremely harrowing as well as uplifting sections, as well as O'Brian's usual streak of humor. We have more of Maturin t...more
With an economy and subtlety that are dazzling, he is able to lay bare the souls of both institutions and individuals in a way that reveals how intricately th...more
This disappointment feels strange, though, because there is so much that I love in the story. The opening debate over the Spanish gold -- prize money won at the end of Post Captain -- is a fasc...more
Make the beginning and the end so good, so ridiculously compelling, that you completely forget about the bombastic, flowery, tediously overwrought writing throughout much of the middle. I enjoy the hell out of these audio books, but I have a feeling that if I had to actually sit down and read them, I'd go a little insane and possibly hoarse from screaming, 'OH MY GOD GET ON WITH IT ARE YOU KIDDING ME SHUT UP'. Brevity was not the author's str...more
Jack and Stephen contrast so perfectly. There is no neutral, passionless moment. Jack continues to be central to splendid action scenes; the sea-battle against Linois at the end is breathtakingly vivid and evocative—the moreso as Stephen is playing his cello, a single melodic voice, through the relentlessly a...more
Too much back story in the first chapter, though disguising it as an Admiralty board hearing softened the blow.
As usual eyeball deep in nineteenth century naval terminology, but enough human interest to keep us engaged.
"Jack, you have debauched my sloth.... (in French) your sordid morals … you are trying to corrupt my sloth … come on then, you bastard … you silly cad …”
What would lead Stephen to rip Jack so thoroughly? Well, Stephen's passionate about chronicling the natural world and observing the behavior of nonhuman animals. He brings a sloth aboard. Jack feels insecure about the sloth's seeming ambivalence toward him. So, Jack tries to win the sloth's affection by plying it with food and booze. Stephen pro...more
Unfortunately, once again, Patrick O'Brian restrains his wonderful gift of describing nautical action, and instead develops the relationship between Captain Jack Aubrey and surgeon Stephen...more
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...more
But Lord, the infinite possibilities of self-deception - the difficulty of disentangling the countless strands of emotion and calling each by its proper name - of separating business from pleasure. At times, what...more
O'Brian's stories have an adventure component that's not present in Austen. This component helps to depict the personal lives and feelings of these men that sailed from one end of the world to the other, but still had very strong cultural points of view. I think that this is what makes these...more
Fans of naval history love the series for its wealth of detail regarding the most arcane aspects of life on a navy shi...more
However, while I am still not in love with O'Brian's plots (and while I appreciate his Austen-like a...more
Set in the...more
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Some minutes later he felt a touch upon his knee: the sloth had silently climbed down and it was standing there, its beady eyes looking up into his face, bright with expectation. More cake, more grog: growing confidence and esteem. After this, as soon as the drum had beat the retreat, the sloth would meet him, hurrying toward the door on its uneven legs: it was given its own bowl, and it would grip it with its claws, lowering its round face into it and pursing its lips to drink (its tongue was too short to lap). Sometimes it went to sleep in this position, bowed over the emptiness.
'In this bucket,' said Stephen, walking into the cabin, 'in this small half-bucket, now, I have the population of Dublin, London, and Paris combined: these animalculae-- what is the matter with the sloth?' It was curled on Jack's knee, breathing heavily: its bowl and Jack's glass stood empty on the table. Stephen picked it up, peered into its affable bleary face, shook it, and hung it upon its rope. It seized hold with one fore and one hind foot, letting the others dangle limp, and went to sleep.
Stephen looked sharply round, saw the decanter, smelt to the sloth, and cried, 'Jack, you have debauched my sloth.”