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The Fortune of War (Aubrey & Maturin #6)

4.37  ·  Rating Details ·  8,378 Ratings  ·  267 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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Master and Commander by Patrick O'BrianCourage by Robert    CarterPost Captain by Patrick O'BrianHornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. ForesterH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
Historical Naval Fiction
17th out of 119 books — 106 voters
Taking Chances by Christina PaulMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. ForesterLiberty or Death by David        Cook
Napoleonic War fiction
26th out of 98 books — 118 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
May 01, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
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 18, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 04, 2016 Andy rated it really liked it
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 30, 2014 Cherie rated it really liked it
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
(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
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
Jul 21, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
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
Nov 19, 2008 Ken-ichi rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 28, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it
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 28, 2011 Nelson rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2011 Ensiform rated it it was amazing
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
Anne L.
Nov 06, 2011 Anne L. rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2012 Mike Rogers rated it really liked it
"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
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
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.
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
David Miller
Nov 09, 2015 David Miller rated it liked it
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 ...'
Mar 03, 2016 Don rated it really liked it
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!
Roger Burk
Jun 27, 2016 Roger Burk rated it it was amazing
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.
Edward Erdelac
Jul 05, 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
Jan 25, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 10, 2015 Victor rated it really liked it
The Aubrey / Maturin series is filled with the thrill of adventure. This particular book is no exception. ...
Oct 29, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We just finished a 2500 mile trip to Florida and back and I-95 gets to be very long so I checked out a few audio books to help the miles pass and this is the only one that we got truly interested in and we managed to finish it before we got home. I had read Master and Commander before (and seen the movie) so I thought that we would enjoy a book from this series and we did. In this episode Captain Aubrey and his friend and surgeon Maturin take ship back to England as Aubrey has been given command ...more
Richard Burke
Jan 28, 2015 Richard Burke rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2016 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aubrey and the Leopard, having been battered by weather and the enemy, run into ice bergs and shipwrecked on an island at the edge of the arctic regions, finally manages to limp back to his assigned rendezvous in Malaysia. There is worse to come.

He and Maturin are ordered back to England on a new ship, La Fleche, only to have it catch fire and burn to the waterline off the coast of Brazil. Maturin's collection of rare natural specimens is lost, and they barely make it onto an 18 foot cutter with
Luke Paulsen
Jun 12, 2016 Luke Paulsen rated it liked it
If you haven’t read the five previous books in the Aubrey-Maturin series, I recommend starting at the beginning (Master and Commander). If you have, then you know roughly what to expect, and I have only a few things to add. This title is a departure for the series in that a large portion of it takes place on land, in Boston during the war of 1812. In fact, though it includes excellent dramatizations of two real historical sea battles, Captain Aubrey never actually commands a ship in the entire s ...more
J. Carroll
Jan 17, 2014 J. Carroll rated it it was amazing
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.
May 19, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
I'd give this book 3.5 stars but apparently my choices are 3 or 4 stars. Aubrey & Maturin are on their way back to England in a dispatch ship. Fate however intervenes. Their ship catches fire and they are set adrift in the Atlantic. H.M.S. Java rescues them. Just in time to do battle with the U.S.S. Constitution, fairly early in the War of 1812. If you know your naval history, you know how that battle turned out & why Aubrey & Maturin find themselves in Boston as prisoners.

Aubrey's e
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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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