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21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey
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21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (Aubrey & Maturin #21)

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3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  2,235 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
To the delight of millions of Patrick O'Brian fans, here is the final, partial installment of the Aubrey/Maturin series, for the first time in paperback.

Blue at the Mizzen (novel #20) ended with Jack Aubrey getting the news, in Chile, of his elevation to flag rank: Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron, with orders to sail to the South Africa station. The next novel, unfini
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Paperback, 140 pages
Published September 20th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Michael
This 65-page fragment of a novel is only rewarding to fans of the series who want to say goodbye to one of the greatest fictional friendships in literature. We get to experience one last time the special bonds between British naval commander Jack Aubrey and his ship's doctor Stephen Maturin, who is also a naturalist and intelligence agent. In many ways, the last novel "Blue at the Mizzen" was a fitting end to the 20-volume series. Napolean Bonaparte has been defeated and to avoid retirement, Ste ...more
Karla
Impossible to rate this fairly since it ends mid-sentence in Chapter 3, and I don't know if O'Brian ever left any notes as to his plot ideas. Who knows what Jack and Stephen would have gotten up to. So I'll hazard a 3 for what was written. It was a solid start, as all of the Aubrey books have been.

The last couple books had been disappointing in how the plot and pace spun out, but this one started out strong IMO, with some more glimpses into Jack and Stephen's domestic life. It is probably too mu
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Brent
Mar 16, 2008 Brent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I started this series last July. It has been enjoyable to read and I feel a sense of loss that I can't follow Jack and Stephen on any more adventures. More than the adventures, which were tame compared to many other books, the pleasant language and craftsmanship of the books are what made for a great experience. Patrick O'brien's wit and prose out strip any contemporary author I have read. It rivals the greats like Victor Hugo and even outstrips many since it was written in english and not ...more
Susan
Mar 27, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, jack-aubrey, 2015
Sad day. I've now read all the Aubrey/Maturin stories for the first time. In a way I wish I could forget all of them so I can read and experience the joy of finding a new author to savor.

Anyway, this partial book really wasn't a story as it is incomplete but still gave glimpses into the domestic relations both Stephen and Jack have. It also shows their subtle sense of humor when interacting with one another.

No big sea battle here, but more a one last quiet look into the world they are surrounde
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Sophist Berg
One day I'll be able to read this. Perhaps when I no longer cry at the end of Blue At The Mizzen. So... never.
Siria
Consisting of just three chapters, a preliminary long-hand sketch of what would surely have been another wonderful novel, there is still much to savour in 21. Here are Jack and Stephen back with us again, and though we don't know where their voyage would have taken them in this book, we see them being happy—both of them with their families, Stephen with his dissections and his spy work, Jack with his admiral's flag.

The book reproduces both O'Brian's partial typescript, and his long-hand manuscr
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Christian
May 07, 2008 Christian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of nautical, historical, Napoleonic, 19th c, & speculative fiction
For Aubrey/Maturin series fanatics only, and yet... I just re-read the entire 20-book series from start to finish for what must be at least the fourth time and this time I wanted to peer into the unfinished final volume (even though the ending of Blue at the Mizzen was in many ways a perfect ending to the series, with Jack finally ordered to hoist his broad pennant and ascend to flag rank, his life's ambition).

The secondary benefit of seeing facsimiles of the author's handwritten drafts, cross-o
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Larry
May 20, 2014 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read the prior 20 installments in this magnificent series. It’s only three chapters. If, however, like me, you have read them all, it’s a mandatory read – albeit a sad parting. (I have owned the book for over a year, and just now found a quiet time in my life to read these final pages.) I feel as if I am saying goodbye to lifelong friends – Admiral Jack Aubrey (he finally made the rank!) and his friend, physician Stephen Maturin.

With the first
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Marcus
Jan 24, 2008 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A shame that it couldn't be completed, but I think it's a fitting end. Our last glimpse of Aubrey and Maturin, preparing for another voyage, and then...? That the rest will have to be filled in by our imaginations is as it should be. I'd rather imagine that their voyages continue on and on. Being unfinished, "21" is rather short. The fact that it's O'Brian's typescript and manuscripts, without the benefit of his editor, is noticeable, but not distracting. There are a few elements in there that I ...more
EJD Dignan
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
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Travis
Apr 06, 2010 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incomplete version of O'Brian's last Aubrey/Maturin novel, which he was writing when he died. The book contains two full chapters, with O'Brian's own typescript on one page and a facsimile of his manuscript on the facing page. There are reproduced manuscript pages for part of the third chapter as well, but as O'Brian's scrawl is almost indecipherable, it makes for very difficult reading. The book would have been greatly improved with a printed version of the final manuscript pages, re ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The pages of O'Brian's 21st Aubrey novel will leave readers hungry for more. Not surprisingly, 21 neither stands alone as a novel nor serves as a concise conclusion to the series. Instead, it sketches out the details of the start of another Aubrey mission. The bulk of the chapters offers set-pieces describing gunnery practice, grog, deck-swabbing, a hernia operation, and a reunion with Papal Nuncio Samuel Mputa. The pages also contain O'Brian's trademark humor and eagle-eyed observations, if cut

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John
Sep 20, 2010 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last book in the series. Honestly, I feel that the author should have found a way to end the series one or two books earlier. This book was never finished because at the age of 85, the author passed away.

As a whole, the series was really good. The characters were likable, and the storyline was good. Towards the end of the series, it seemed the author had lost interest in some of the characters and either killed them or dropped them from the series with no explanation. At the same ti
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a hooded figure from your friendly neighbourhood dog park
It's taken me just over two years to finish this series and I can't believe I've gotten to the end! It's the longest I've ever read and will read, most likely.

While I have my qualms (*cough* Diana's fate *cough* and the battle scenes and in-depth naval stuff being impossible to follow with my puny brain), I adore the relationship between Jack and Stephen and this series is still way above all other naval stuff I've ever tried, being friendship-driven and amazingly atmospheric <3

Goodbye, unti
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Jonathan
Mar 22, 2010 Jonathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Warning, for fans of the Aubrey/Maturin series: this book is quite an anticlimax and would best be avoided by all but the most curious to read the final unfinished, sparsely edited frame of a story. Book 20 is a fine conclusion to an amazing series--leave it there.
Corto
Jul 28, 2015 Corto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I shouldn't give this 5 Stars...but what the hell! Not a complete novel, but I like it because POB loved these characters and this blue world so much, wrote unto his death! Fair winds and following seas, Sir!
Nate
Jan 29, 2013 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I finally finished them, I feel like crying. I love Stephen, I love Jack. Its very hard to say goodbye.
Web Webster
May 13, 2017 Web Webster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rich Taylor
Nov 17, 2016 Rich Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very short, unfinished, still wonderfully evocative. Superb.
Cheryl
This would have been a great story of Jack and Stephen. It's so unfortunate he wasn't able to finish it. I read the part that had been typed but I couldn't read his handwriting to finish reading the manuscript pages. It would have been better if someone had taken the time to type it out as written but I guess they felt it was best to leave it as he had left it.
Nelson
Jan 02, 2012 Nelson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A shame this volume couldn't have been completed. Aubrey gets and enjoys his flag, yet, as ever, complications ensue. He is rear admiral to something of a bastard--plenty of incipient conflict there. Maturin's liaison with Christine Wood seems to be growing closer to an understanding, though the appearance of a snappish, dueling ass of an army captain (a frequent visitor to the Aubreys when Christine was in residence there) along with the fleet admiral suggests all kinds of interesting complicat ...more
Ireney Berezniak
Alas, all good things must come to an end. With a pang of sorrow, I've reached the conclusion of the excellent Aubrey/Maturin series. Having read the novels in a nearly continuous spell, I have grown strongly attached to characters and the world created by Patrick O'Brian. There hasn't really been a single novel that has blown me away -- I don't believe I've rated any of them with 5 stars -- but as a whole, this series certainly leaves a strong impression. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've felt ...more
Neil Coulter
Jul 18, 2013 Neil Coulter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I knew that 21 is only a fragment of O'Brian's early working through the next Aubrey/Maturin story--and I could see from the appearance of the book itself that it is quite short--and so my expectations were set quite low. I looked for it to be only a last souvenir of a series that I have loved. It is all that, of course. But I was surprised at just how much substance O'Brian set down on paper before his death ended the series forever. Like the completed volumes that end the series, there is much

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Thomas
Mar 11, 2014 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read every book in this series in a glorious stretch around the end of the last year. All but this one. This is not a new pattern in my media consumption, I held off watching the 5th season of The Wire for a long time for the same reason.

It's childish I guess, but it feels like, no matter how good it is, when you get to the end of something, especially when that something is several thousand pages of nautical adventure, it feels dimished somehow. That what felt impossibly huge around the midd
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Timothy Mcdonough
It is sad when a good thing comes to an end. I feel I have lost some good friends; the characters, the author and the narrator. RIP
Joe
Oct 01, 2011 Joe rated it liked it
Recommends it for: O'Brian completists.
This is not a novel, but an unfinished fragment. When Patrick O'Brian passed away in 2000 he left behind the beginnings of his 21st Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin novel: a typescript of roughly the first three chapters, and handwritten draft that runs on a bit longer. Both are published here exact;y as O'Brian left them, in a format that places each typescript page on the left with its corepsonding handwritten page to the right. Where the typescript ends the handwritten pages continue alone.

As a ra
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Kathryn
Jun 08, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book was to be the next book in the Aubrey / Maturin series of books about the Royal Navy during and after the Napoleonic Wars, featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Stephen Maturin, a surgeon, doctor, naturalist, and (sub rosa) a spy for the English Crown. The author died while composing this book, so this is a rump book of only three or four chapters; even so, I enjoyed reading the book, and regret the death of the author in 2000 at the age of 85.

The plot of the book begins with th
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Linda Barnett
Jul 20, 2016 Linda Barnett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm thankful this brief - three chapters - unfinished manuscript was allowed to be published. Even though it leaves us hanging, mid sentence, for me it gives some closure. How sad that such a great writer had to leave us before his brilliant series could be completed. Now we will all have to imagine where Jack and Stephen's lives will go from here.

In my imagination, once the war is over, they will split their time between home on shore and home on the Surprise, under Jack's command and Ringle un
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Trin
Jun 03, 2007 Trin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hesitated for more than a year, trying to decide if I actually wanted to read this last, unfinished Aubrey/Maturin book. In part, this is because books left unfinished by authors who have died make me sad just inherently, and it's also because I so liked how the 20th book, Blue at the Mizzen, ended. But eventually I cracked, as I knew I would, and I'm pleased to report that I'm very, very glad I did. The book is unfinished, true—there's less than three chapters here—but in that small space, t ...more
Jim
Nov 06, 2016 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Patrick O'Brian's 21st Aubrey/Maturin novel was left unfinished when he died. The first part of this book consists of the author's typewritten pages on the left side and facsimile's of his handwritten pages (w/ some of his notes & edits) on the right side. In some places there are multiple handwritten pages covering multiple versions of the same part of the story. Eventually the typewritten pages run out and then the reader is left to try to decipher Patrick O'Brian's handwriting the best th ...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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More about Patrick O'Brian...

Other Books in the Series

Aubrey & Maturin (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Master and Commander
  • Post Captain
  • H.M.S. Surprise
  • The Mauritius Command
  • Desolation Island
  • The Fortune of War
  • The Surgeon's Mate
  • The Ionian Mission
  • Treason's Harbour
  • The Far Side of the World

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