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The Commodore (Aubrey & Maturin #17)

4.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,915 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
Having survived a long and desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it is disastrous: his little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situa ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1994)
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Courage by Robert    CarterMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianPost Captain by Patrick O'BrianH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'BrianHornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. Forester
Historical Naval Fiction
27th out of 120 books — 100 voters
Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard CornwellSharpe's Eagle by Bernard CornwellSharpe's Havoc by Bernard CornwellLiberty or Death by David        CookMarksman by David        Cook
Napoleonic Wars (Historical Fiction)
50th out of 83 books — 54 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Karla
This installment in the Aubrey/Maturin saga has definitely been a late-series high point. After several books at sea, our duo makes port at home where they find high drama in their personal lives. Jack's wife Sophie has taken extreme umbrage at the nearby presence of Clarissa Oakes, Jack's former passenger on a previous voyage who has a dress from the same bolt of cloth Jack gave her. *facepalm* And Stephen returns to find his wife Diana MIA when the reality of their daughter Bridget's autism be ...more
Jocelyn
Jan 04, 2015 Jocelyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I abandoned Tristram Shandy's light-hearted social commentary for a story with guts. Patrick O'Brian never fails to deliver.*

Jack Aubrey has his first fleet command. Part of the plot revolves around a contrast among the leadership styles of three ships' captains:

1. flog your people until they achieve your standard of perfection;
2. have sex with your favorites;
3. train your team so that they master a rewarding skill (in this case, sailing the ship and working its guns so as to maximize the potent
...more
Jamie
Jack and Stephen return home after a voyage around the world and an absence of years. Stephen meets his young daughter for the first time but does not find the picture of domestic happiness that he wished for. Jack and Sophie are reunited but soon have a falling out over a couple of painful misunderstandings.

They return to sea, Jack having been given command of a squadron and sent publicly to harass slavers off the coast of Africa and privately to intercept a French invasion force. Already distu
...more
Robert
Nov 26, 2014 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Having circum-navigated the globe, Aubrey and Maturin have an interlude back in England before setting off to fight the slave-trade off the coast of Africa. These interludes are the weakest parts of this saga, for me; I just get a bit bored quite quickly. But soon enough we're back at sea with Aubrey in command of a small fleet for the second time and then matters fairly whizz along, like a ship clapping on sail, right up to the sky-scrapers. The problems of fleet command present new challenges ...more
Greg Strandberg
This book has a jaunty pace and some quick turns. In other words, it keeps things moving and you get through the 300 or so pages pretty fast.

I really have to say that the earlier volumes were the best of the series.
Andrea
Nov 15, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books, fiction
Another book set mostly at sea, which I enjoy. This book marks Aubrey's move to a ship of the line, acting as a Commodore of a fleet, very much coming of age as a captain, nearing his advancement as an admiral. He and Stephen are feeling their age a bit, and maturing overall. Stephen also meets his daughter, who seems to be on the autism spectrum, and she is interestingly written. There is also a bit on the dangers of homosexuality in a ship, not out of moral reasons, but more in having a captai ...more
Alex Sarll
Having spent longer as Captain than the Napoleonic wars actually lasted, Jack Aubrey finally gets promoted, but of course rank hath its discontents; his squadron is not all that might be wished, containing one ship captained by a martinet without practical experience, and another in which unchecked sodomy has done for the company's discipline. Meanwhile, surgeon and spy Stephen Maturin may be overindulging in those remarkable coca leaves he discovered in South America, and has a highly-placed do ...more
Randy
Jan 01, 2011 Randy rated it really liked it
Stephen and Jack, after adventuring around the world and adding to their wealth of money and experience, return to England to find Stephen's wife Diana gone and Jack named Commodore of a squadron gazetted to the coast of Africa to put a damper on the slave trade and thence to Ireland to crush a French invasion. Jack has won the fast sloop Ringle gambling with his best friend and the Ringle comes in handy for Stephen is in danger from a French mole highly placed in the royal family. He must retri ...more
Patricia
Jul 08, 2011 Patricia rated it it was amazing
One of the pleasures of reading a series this long, covering this many years, is that as the characters grow older, so do we. Stephen loses his hair. Jack is constantly battling his weight. They both succumb to dangerous wounds and illnesses. They are jealous over their wives' behavior. They are thoroughly recognizable people, living in the world of the British navy during the Napoleonic wars.

It is time for the men to return home to their families. Sophie is a paragon of wisdom, but shows her te
...more
Nelson
Dec 20, 2011 Nelson rated it really liked it
It's been a while (The Mauritius Command, if memory serves) since we've gotten to see Aubrey in the company of other commanders and profit by noting the differences. O'Brian is up to some of his usual tricks in having the different captains stand as symbols of what Jack might have become had he not possessed his particular blend of discipline and camaraderie. Duff, a pederast who sleeps with his favorites, is perhaps the most extreme example of a captain rewarding his underlings to the degree th ...more
Julia
Feb 22, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it
Here we have the 17th installment in this wonderful Napoleonic-era naval adventure series. I've been away from this series for over a year (and am not entirely sure why) and it has been such a delight to again immerse myself in the funny, super-smart, high-stakes world of Jack Aubrey, now a commodore of a fleet of ships, and Stephen Maturin, everyone's favorite illegitimate Irish/Catalan doctor/spy. This book is notable for Maturin meeting his daughter (I did not think I could love Maturin anymo ...more
Kevin
Apr 28, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series, but some of these books are too short individually, each book is like a chapter in a magnum opus. The right way to read the books is in order, I know this because I read one out of order and it screws up the magic. In this book, there is an event that happened in the book called Truelove/Clarissa Oakes, and it's referenced here. It's funny if you catch the reference, probably not so funnily if you didn't know what happened two books back.

As the series goes on it's more and m
...more
Richard Burke
Jan 28, 2015 Richard Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
James
May 02, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4* for this book 5* for the series
Todd Stockslager
Jun 09, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Amended review: This ISN'T the last of the series! WOO HOO! I found that there are three more titles, and an unfinished one as well, plus a fellow named Dean King has put together an atlas and a dictionary of terms based on the Aubrey/Maturin series.

Whew. The Commodore ended well enough to cap off the series, but there is more to know about the characters, and I want to spend more time with them.

The last and one of the best of the Captain Aubrey series. O'Brian writes with an urgency like a ship
...more
Wealhtheow
Dec 23, 2015 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Maturin and Aubrey return home to their families (Maturin finally meets his daughter!) and then go off adventuring again. Aubrey is given command of a whole fleet of ships, and his joy in the promotion is a delight to read.
Susan
Nov 03, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, jack-aubrey, 2014
Another good adventure with Jack and Stephen. I am coming to the end of this series and am sad that I have only a few new stories (to me) to finish up.
Dan Yingst
Dec 04, 2013 Dan Yingst rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Things get much more psychological, and much more focused on Stephen, a trend which I understand continues, and which I'm unsure how much I like.
Steven Bragg
Mar 08, 2014 Steven Bragg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better installments in the brilliant Aubrey/Maturin series. Some of the prior books suffered from a wandering plot, but this one has a tighter focus on several themes: the horrors of the slave trade, spouses growing apart, and overcoming what appears to be a light touch of autism. The page in which Maturin first hears his daughter speak is one of the finest in the English language. The result is good pacing, along with the author's typically gorgeous characterizations and fine ...more
Marko
Jan 03, 2016 Marko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
Aubrey and Maturin are becoming 'old men' and their friendship has matured to a level where they know each others' thought just from their expressions. Aubrey gets a second chance to sly the commodore's flag as he hunts down slave traders and learns the horrors of the slave ships and finally understands why Maturin hates slavery so much. Maturin has a scare with his young daughter whom he meets for the first time and run-away wife and he also battles Yellow Jack before it is all over.

As always,
...more
Douglas Gorney
Funny about the three stars…I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but then again at this point in the series O'Brian could write an entire book about Aubrey and Maturin preparing grog and I would still be completely absorbed. The characters are that true, and the writing that good. As a book…well, it's rather more than a series of episodes, where all loose threads are tied up in one fell, expeditious swoop in the last two pages. One rather senses O'Brian was eager to be on to the next book…or don ...more
Dorothy
Jun 01, 2015 Dorothy rated it it was amazing
Patrick O'Brian seemed to get better as a writer as this series wound down toward its end. This entry, number seventeen in the series, has actually been my favorite so far. Possibly that is because much of the action takes place on land and I didn't have to worry about keeping track of naval battles. Also, even more than is usually the case, it concentrated on exploring relationships and human interactions. Moreover, the author kept things moving and kept my complete interest throughout. Yes, I ...more
Neil Coulter
Dec 28, 2014 Neil Coulter rated it it was amazing

I wonder how many pots of coffee have been consumed in the Aubrey/Maturin novels by this point. Hundreds, surely. It's not possible to read these books without frequent cravings for coffee and toasted cheese.

The best thing about The Commodore is that the long round-the-world voyage of the past several volumes is finally at an end. Jack and Stephen finally return home and find out what's been happening with their families in the years they've been away. I love Sophie, and there's nothing better i

...more
Travis
Sep 07, 2012 Travis rated it it was amazing
Yet another wonderful chapter in the lives of Aubrey and Maturin, friends who are in many ways tied to each other more intimately--and certainly more faithfully--than to their wives. I particularly enjoyed the subtlety and delicacy with which this volume explored that most enviable friendship through the complimentary lenses of their respective domestic joys and challenges, on the one hand, and their professional missions and passionate longings, on the other. Along the way O'Brian treats us to ...more
mentor&muse
May 25, 2013 mentor&muse rated it really liked it
The Commodore is book seventeen in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, and if you’ve already read the first sixteen books you certainly won’t be disappointed with this one. If the series is new to you, however, by all means start with book one, Master and Commander. Either way you have a treat in store for you.

Jack and Stephen return from a long voyage and face various domestic difficulties. Stephen, for instance, finally meets his daughter, Brigid, who was born while he was away at sea. S
...more
EJD Dignan
Jun 06, 2009 EJD Dignan rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Don
Jan 11, 2015 Don rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stories, ships
This book marks a major change of direction in the long history of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. The eventful circumnavigation that occupied the previous four books - and which left the tale (or the author) beginning to look a little tired - has been completed. 'The Commodore' shows the author (and the tale) refreshed. While perhaps not quite as good as some of the earlier books (although all are of a cut well above 'regular fiction'), this includes, in Chapter 5, what may be the best single ...more
Kat
Oct 01, 2014 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I strongly prefer the mostly-at-sea volumes of the series to the mostly-on-land, and although a good chunk of this book is set ashore, it is home, home at last for our heroes. This book includes many of my favorite passages and scenes, including what I believe to be one of the most beautiful, subtle and moving sequences in the entire series. (No, I'm not going to say what it is. You'll have to read the book and find out!)
Richard
Apr 01, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen must find refuge for his money and for his learning disabled daughter when he learns of a possible plot against him as a result of his earlier part in foiling the Ledward-Wray conspiracy. He joins a squadron of British ships underway to intercept the now illegal slave trade, and to fight a French squadron. The British fleet is commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey, enjoying his temporary rank of Commodore. He has his hands full before he even goes into battle, with two subordinate Captains wh ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing Cover 2 14 Sep 21, 2015 06:36AM  
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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...

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)

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“Stephen had been put to sleep in his usual room, far from children and noise, away in that corner of the house which looked down to the orchard and the bowling-green, and in spite of his long absence it was so familiar to him that when he woke at about three he made his way to the window almost as quickly as if dawn had already broken, opened it and walked out onto the balcony. The moon had set: there was barely a star to be seen. The still air was delightfully fresh with falling dew, and a late nightingale, in an indifferent voice, was uttering a routine jug-jug far down in Jack's plantations; closer at hand and more agreeable by far, nightjars churred in the orchard, two of them, or perhaps three, the sound rising and falling, intertwining so that the source could not be made out for sure. There were few birds that he preferred to nightjars, but it was not they that had brought him out of bed: he stood leaning on the balcony rail and presently Jack Aubrey, in a summer-house by the bowling-green, began again, playing very gently in the darkness, improvising wholly for himself, dreaming away on his violin with a mastery that Stephen had never heard equalled, though they had played together for years and years.

Like many other sailors Jack Aubrey had long dreamed of lying in his warm bed all night long; yet although he could now do so with a clear conscience he often rose at unChristian hours, particularly if he were moved by strong emotion, and crept from his bedroom in a watch-coat, to walk about the house or into the stables or to pace the bowling-green. Sometimes he took his fiddle with him. He was in fact a better player than Stephen, and now that he was using his precious Guarnieri rather than a robust sea-going fiddle the difference was still more evident: but the Guarnieri did not account for the whole of it, nor anything like. Jack certainly concealed his excellence when they were playing together, keeping to Stephen's mediocre level: this had become perfectly clear when Stephen's hands were at last recovered from the thumb-screws and other implements applied by French counter-intelligence officers in Minorca; but on reflexion Stephen thought it had been the case much earlier, since quite apart from his delicacy at that period, Jack hated showing away.

Now, in the warm night, there was no one to be comforted, kept in countenance, no one could scorn him for virtuosity, and he could let himself go entirely; and as the grave and subtle music wound on and on, Stephen once more contemplated on the apparent contradiction between the big, cheerful, florid sea-officer whom most people liked on sight but who would have never been described as subtle or capable of subtlety by any one of them (except perhaps his surviving opponents in battle) and the intricate, reflective music he was now creating. So utterly unlike his limited vocabulary in words, at times verging upon the inarticulate.

'My hands have now regained the moderate ability they possessed before I was captured,' observed Maturin, 'but his have gone on to a point I never thought he could reach: his hands and his mind. I am amazed. In his own way he is the secret man of the world.”
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