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The Ionian Mission (Aubrey & Maturin #8)

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  5,331 ratings  ·  160 reviews
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. But Jack is now a senior Captain commanding a line-of-battle ship, and this is a longer, harder war than the dashing frigate actions of his early days.
Published August 1st 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
Political intrigue in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars as seen through the eyes of a Royal Navy captain. The Ionian Mission is yet another strong showing in the long Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.

Our hero British naval officer Captain Jack Aubrey needs to get out of dodge and takes a boring a blockade assignment that turns into something a bit more touchy in the diplomatic line, very volatile politics indeed.

Intrigue simmers in the background. A double-cross heats things
Seriously, these books are like crack. Some choice terms and quotes (defs mostly from King's invaluable A Sea of Words):

fearnaught screen: thick felt used to cover hatches during battle.

felucca (n): a small Spanish sailing vessel, but also a kind of fishing boat formerly used in the SF Bay Area.

houario (n): "A French lug-rigged boat of the chasse-marée type," according to King.

levinflash (n): lightning flash. "Levin" is apparently an archaic term for lightning, from Middle English.

mastic (
Webster Bull
If you’ve thought about jumping aboard Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, which follows a British ship’s captain and doctor through the Napoleonic Wars, it would be logical to start with the first volume, Master and Commander (1970), which gave its name to a Russell Crowe–starring film adaptation in 2003. But if I were going to recommend one of the twenty books in the amazing thirty-year series that best shows off the mastery of O’Brian, I’d say you might consider volume 8, The Ionian Miss ...more
A pretty slow-building tale, but the finale is action-packed. Yeah, I had a huge sad when my precious Pullings got knocked down, but Jack was right there to protect his peeps. ;)

I liked the story well enough, but I have a big problem with Simon Vance's narration. He did the non-dialogue stuff in a way that kept my attention - Patrick Tull's slower pace tends to lose me at times in O'Brian's long sentences - but I absolutely LOATHE Vance's voices for Jack and Stephen. Ugh! Jack is the same booris
The eighth in the adventures of Captain Aubrey and Dr.Maturin. After a peak into their respective home lives (Maturin's is my particular favorite: he and Diana have homes of their own because their lives are so different--plus he needs privacy for all his intelligence work--but he visits often for shared breakfast in bed and dinner parties), they ship off to support the blockade against the French. It's a long, boring period for them, made more troubling by the leadership. One of Aubrey's old co ...more
Sherwood Smith
In this latest installment in the Aubrey/Maturin roman fleuve, Patrick O'Brian does some interesting things. As always on my first read I galloped through it, loving the adventure, the descriptions, the diving bell and the naturalist explorations, far travels, vivid descriptions, various cultures, and exciting battles. O’Brian doesn’t let the reader down, with the expected comedic bits.

But on this reread of the entire series, when I came to this book I became aware of something I hadn't noticed
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this chapter in the Jack Aubrey stories. We got to meet up with a few old friends, listened to Jack's valet cry of dismay whenever Aubrey abused his clothes, was on board during a high wind and felt the rise and fall of the waves and heard the pounding sea on the ship to the point where I wondered how all these ships stayed in one piece (thanks to the wonderful storytelling by Mr. O'Brian), and finally got a battle at sea. No long land scenes, no Sophie, children or Diana Villie ...more
Aug 22, 2007 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history nuts in particular
I've been a bit slow in getting back to the Aubrey/Maturin series, but I have no idea why- this book reminded me how much I love them. The characters still have their witty and pithy comments, the nautical knowledge is omnipresent but does not impede the storytelling, and I was completely enthralled with the story. I'm so glad Jack seems to have his luck back!

I can't wait to get the next book...
Christopher H.
I really enjoyed reading The Ionian Mission, the eighth episode in the twenty-volume canon of Patrick O'Brian's brilliant 'Aubreyiad.' This had a bit of it all too: affairs with 'hearth and home' in London and at Ashgrove Cottage; doings with Sophie Aubrey and Diana Villiers Maturin; Stephen Maturin's intelligence activities against the French ashore and afloat; and some fascinating sea-faring adventuring in the Mediterranean Sea. It was wonderful to watch Jack and Stephen have the opportunity t ...more
In which O'Brian enlarges his cast of characters yet again. Heretofore Aubrey and Maturin have tried their hand primarily at Hummel, Cherubini and Scarlatti. Here for the first time, they have a crack at 'London' Bach's dad, Johann hisself. Interesting how the music is made to serve the moods of the characters at the time. In this and perhaps the last novel, O'Brian has gotten beyond his earlier habit of working variations on the main characters. One has the sense that he has decided at this poi ...more
Another delightful, if not slightly boring chapter in the life of Jack and Stephen. But the same wit and puns, the same shameless use of all sorts of nautical terms, and of course a wonderful peek into the life of a British navy sailor in a sailing ship.

Not much happens, really. But in true O'Brian fashion, the entire time they spend on blockade duty in the Ionian Sea is in fact NOT the mission you think. Only towards the last half of the last 1/3 of the book is the true mission.

My favorite par
Finally Jack & crew are back in the Surprise for a bit of diplomatic maneuvering among Turkish factions before the real action begins. Superb ending and nice to see Mr. Stuffy pants Graham brought up a bit short. I deducted one star largely because the beginning moved rather slowly - like the blockade of Toulon. But a number of interesting threats emerge here which are sure to offer entertainment in the books to come.
a great story and well written . This is the first of O'brian's books that I've read due to availability in our local library,but I plan on buying the entire series of his books on the fighting ships of the British Royal Navy during the years of Napoleon.I would highly recommend these novels to anyone who has an interest in the sea. O'brian is a technical author so be prepared for an in depth word parade of ship terminology,but also prepare yourself to get lost in a completely different time. If ...more
Another book down in Patrick O'Brian's great series about a British captain fighting the French in the Napoleanic wars. As usual, O'Brian does a fantastic job of mixing great character development, dialogue, humor and action while conveying in intricate detail the realities of naval warfare and politics. All that said, this has not proved to be my favorite book in the series. It's a bit slow and doesn't deliver nearly as much excitement as some of the others. Still a worthy read and I'm looking ...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
Duncan Mandel
SUMMARY: Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, veterans now of many battles, return in this novel to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. But a sudden turn of events takes them off on a hazardous mission to the Greek isles, where they are soon involved in fierce and thrilling action. EDITORIAL REVIEW: Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of their beginning, with Master ...more
Possibly it was the lapse of time from the last O'Brian novel (though I did try to re-read a huge portion of #7 to try to knit the tales together) but I had a struggle with this. Or perhaps the 7th inning stretch of the last novel went into the 8th. Or perhaps both and the nature of writing about a naval blockade and the tedium involved in that task that made this book anything but a page-turner until the last 10 pages. It started with a shock, in the span of time between 7 & 8 Stephen and D ...more
Rob Welch
Once again, a very good seafaring tale. I particularly enjoyed seeing the character of Aubrey deepen even further... for the first time we see him truly doubt himself, and see his tortured reaction to seeing even trusted seaman look askance at him, wondering if he has lost that "Lucky Jack" edge.

After a full book focused very much on Stephen Maturin, this one returns more to Captain Jack....
Christopher Taylor
One of my favorite Aubrey/Maturin books again. Here, the tides are starting to change on the pair, particularly for Captain Aubrey. Having ridden a wave of luck for much of his career, things start going a bit worse for the good captain.

Treachery and bad luck begin to plague Aubrey, and Stephen Maturin is sadly taken in by some of the treason, resulting in some troubled times for the two. This book has some of the most hilarious moments in the entire series and despite the ominous clouds on the
Having been gifted with a full set of "dead tree edition" Aubrey books, I have resumed my trek through the Napoleonic Wars (Nautical Edition).

Reading Aubrey is much tougher than listening to it - you lose the ability to let the minutiae of Age of Sail terms flow into your wake. This is one of those times that a hypertext edition, with links to pictures of the various ship bits, would help. Links to the Aubrey Mapping Project ( wouldn't be amiss either.

The major problem
Captain Jack Aubrey is a Royal Naval officer in the British Navy in the early 18th century. His close friend and ship's doctor is Stephen Maturin, an Irish Catholic who is also employed be British intelligence. Jack is a larger than life swashbuckler who has been in the navy since he was a lad. He is an avid sailor with a fine touch on his boats. He runs them like thoroughbreds and is always looking at getting the best out of both the ship and the crew. Stephen is more circumspect and uses his w ...more
Sarah Bynum
The only thing disappointing about this book is the fact Killick didn't enter his lyrical "all wasted, not even tasted" into the poetry contest! - Which he would have won it and gone on to publish by subscription and we would today rate him with Byron and Shelley and literary history would be forever altered...

The humour in these books is as imperative as any other element. I've heard POB's humour described as "dry" - I disagree. It achieves all levels: dry wit, sarcasm, punning, low humour, di
Oliver Kim
The final third of the book, concerning the eponymous Ionian Mission, is thrilling. The first two thirds are unfortunately quite plodding as Aubrey and Maturin spend a lot of time sitting in blockade waiting for the French to come out. O'Brian spends a lot of time describing how dull blockades are, which makes me wonder why he chose to devote most of the book to it. Not that it's bad, by any means -- no Aubrey-Maturin novel I've read so far is -- just that it's not as good as some of the previou ...more
‘The Ionian Mission’ successfully cheered me up after the emotional trauma of The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. As ever with the Aubery & Maturin series, there are exciting sea battles and political machinations, but the highlights are bickering between characters, instances of perfect comic timing, and cameos from wild animals. Of especial note, the exercising of the rhino, Babbington’s adventure with Lesbians, Jack snuffling about with a cold and missing Stephen, the younger ...more
Questo episodio della serie mi è piaciuto leggermente di meno dei precedenti, l'ho trovato un po' lento e il crescendo di tensione che porta allo scontro finale è stato abbastanza telefonato. Probabilmente la lentezza e l'accenno di noia sono effetti voluti, dovuti al blocco navale di Tolone e all'assenza di scontri degni di nota. Ero così contenta di ritornare nel Mediterraneo dopo tanti anni trascorsi dalla conclusione di Primo Comando, ma è stato meno divertente di quanto mi aspettassi.
Jack h
Neil Coulter

After a break from Aubrey and Maturin for a few months--mostly to take care of some nonfiction reading and reviewing--I finally have time to dive back into the continuing story. I went into Book 8, The Ionian Mission, with a bit of fear, however. Why? Because the last time I tried to read through O'Brian's series, this is the point at which I fizzled out and stopped the series. (This was partly because at that time I couldn't find a copy of Book 7, and it was difficult to get back into the serie

I believe I'm on my fourth trip through the Aubrey-Maturin series although this might have been my fifth reading of The Ionian Mission. The great thing about this book is that O'Brian has managed to bring together all of our favorite crew members: Pullings, Jack's protege, eager to win the next step in his career, Mowat, like pullings and Babbington, all mid-shipmen in the first book of the series (Master and Commander), Bonden, Aubrey's invaluable coxswain and Killick, his crabby steward, Joe P ...more
There is a lot of spying and diplomatic intrigue in this book. Captain Jack Aubrey gets command of the "H.M.S. Worcester", and Stephen Maturin, ships' surgeon and undercover agent, is surreptitiously delivered to Spain and France to engage with anti-Bonapartist factions. The former assignment occurs when Captain Jack is part of the Royal Navy's Toulon blockade of the French navy. A reunification occurs with Jack's faithful lieutenant, William Babington, when "Worcester" joins "H.M.S. Dryad", und ...more
So, as usual, a note first about the narrator(s) of this series. Patrick O'Brian wrote 20 (and a half) Aubrey/Matchurin books before his death, and only 2 men have narrated all 20, Patrick Tull, and Simon Vance. I listened to Tull narrating the first 5 books of the series, because those were the versions my library had. For Desolation Island, I could only get a hold of the Simon Vance version. He is a highly capable narrator, but has no concept of the characters in this particular series (and hi ...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
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)
  • 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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