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The Fortune of War (Aubrey/Maturin, #6)
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The Fortune of War (Aubrey & Maturin #6)

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  6,760 ratings  ·  194 reviews
An essential of the truly gripping book for the narrative addict is the creation of a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit, and O'Brian does this with prodigal specificity and generosity." —A.S. Byatt

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.
Paperback, 355 pages
Published August 17th 1991 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1978)
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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
18th out of 115 books — 91 voters
Taking Chances by Christina PaulThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianLiberty or Death by David        CookMr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester
Napoleonic War fiction
24th out of 85 books — 104 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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

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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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
Anne L.
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
Mike Rogers
"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
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
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
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
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
J. Carroll
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.
At this point, reading the Aubrey/Maturin series has become more pleasurable than slipping into a hot bath on a cold night, although the predicaments they've lately found themselves facing are much less pleasant.

Having survived the disasters of Desolation Island, the long-presumed dead crew of the Leopard have limped into safe harbour and are now bound for home (and a better ship). But they've got to get there first - something that won't be happening for a while if the events of this book are a
Muthuprakash Ravindran
I've been reading this series in a non-linear way and hence the interesting ones(or what I perceive as interesting) are read first. This book interested me since it is set during the war of 1812. The naval battles in that war are actually a side show with the war with Tecumseh being the one which pushed US into the west finally. And Stephan actually becomes a serious Bond-like spy in this one, killing of the French agents, sneaking away in a basket and of course, the entanglement with Diana. Jac ...more
This book is the grand and satisfying culmination of O'Brian's first 5 novels in the Aubrey/Maturin series. It is truly a masterpiece, with everything from shipwreck survival in the scorching heat of the Atlantic to a pitched and deliberate battle just outside Boston harbour which turns the tide of the naval war of 1812 in favour of the British. O'Brian's description of the silence before this battle is unforgettable, the suspense of it, and the awe of what courage it took to do battle in these ...more
Sarah Bynum
I don't relish the romance-driven onshore novels as much, as I go in for the sea adventure aspects rather than the Jane Austen effect. Nevertheless, this series continues to be immensely enjoyable - even though Stephen increases in his Mary Sue-ness. But what he did on page 2113 (of the 5-volume collection) - damn! Definitely not Jane Austen! (well, maybe "Old Harry's Game" Jane Austen..). It was fun to see Jack & Stephen in America (more fun for me than for them). Also, we've reached the po ...more
This book skips a little after the end of the previous adventure, leaving out a lot of messing about with Leopard in Botany Bay. Not long after that Captain Aubrey is without a ship once more, and remains so for the rest of this volume. He is happy to lend a hand with others though for two good naval actions, while the rest of the story focuses mostly on Doctor Maturin.

The War of 1812 is not a popular chapter of US history. While there were great motives for the US to declare war on Great Britai
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.
Duncan Mandel
EDITORIAL REVIEW: "A marvellously full-flavoured, engrossing book, which towers over its current rivals in the genre like a three-decker over a ship's longboat."'Times Literary Supplement 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 precipi ...more
Erica Anderson
Another installment in the Aubrey-Maturin series, balancing between naval warfare and developments in Stephen's personal life. Diana plays a relatively major role in this book, as do engagements with American frigates during the War of 1812. Jack Aubrey is aboard the HMS Java during its engagement with the USS Constitution, but holds no command in this book.

Fortune of War struck me as a short book, bridging more significant events in Aubrey's command. I nevertheless enjoyed it, despite the turn
Christopher Taylor
Historical novels are necessarily filled with history, and some stand out as being so alive with history that they feel almost real. After reading this novel again, I was struck by how the events that took place in the book all seem absolutely historical, whether they were or not.

This book is set in the naval actions of the War of 1812, and this is a war that most Americans know little about. The causes, length, and mood of the country during the war are laid out very well in Fortune of War but
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack and Stephen's fortunes turn bad after their rescue from Desolation Island. They catch a ride home in a packet with important dispatches of their success in the cold south sea but end up captured by Americans and witnessing t a couple of important sea battles in the war of 1812. They are captured and end up in Boston where Louisa Wogan is friends with Diana who has become disenchanted with the American plantation owner Mr. Johnson. Johnson is a volunteer intelligence agent for the US and wor ...more
brian dean
I gave it four stars but I am torn on what an accurate rating would be. O'brian seems to have written the series as one long book; of the few installments I have read, each ends in a vicious, successful sea-battle but otherwise the pace is slow. I definitely want to read more.

"The Fortunes of Sea-farers" might be a better title. Aubrey and Maturin barely manage to make harbour in a rotten, worn out ship in a South Pacific island and are sent aboard a wonderfully fast ship back to England only to
This is no doubt among the top of my favorites of the Patrick O'Brian series of novels concerning the heroic and colorful exploits of a Royal Navy ship commander and his ship's surgeon. The time frame of the novels covers the British War of 1812 with America as well as the continental wars with Revolutionary and Naponeonic France. The late O'Brian's web site contains an account of his very friendly reception in Boston on an American trip, and his enjoyment in visiting the "USS Constitution," a l ...more
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
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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)
Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3) Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4) Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5)

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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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