Michael's Reviews > Master and Commander 20 Volume Set

Master and Commander 20 Volume Set by Patrick O'Brian
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Aug 06, 11

Read in March, 2011

The Most Awesome Collection of 19th-Century British Nautical Adventure Ever Written

Okay, that makes it pretty much a tight genre, but I super dug the whole damned collection. Where to start? How about, for 20 novels reviewed at once, we go for Q&A?

Q1) Why review all 20 at once, instead of individually?
A1) Well, mostly because I don't get paid to do this. But also because of the content. A few of the novels read well as individuals, that much is true, but there are more than a few "transitional" novels. True, they have rises and falls in action, as well as climaxes, but they really just serve as glue. You get into the habit of Aubrey and Maturin returning to England heralding the actual end of the adventure, and sometimes they don't return for like 6 books! Plus, especially when compared to fantasy novels, the books are tiny. Averaging 225 pages each, the entire series is only 4500 pages long, which is the same as the first 5 books in GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire (which you should read).

Q2) Five stars, REALLY?
A2) Yes, but with the following caveats: You are male; you love ships; you don't find infidelity to be a completely alienating character flaw; you enjoy characters in a 19th-century British novel who behave as 19th-century British people, and not just contemporary characters speaking in dated phrases; and you love books about ships.

Q3) What, specifically, do you find interesting and/or worthwhile?
A3) A complex question. For starters, it's pretty well-written. Very dated, but I dig that when it's done right. But these are popcorn books, and meant to be taken as such. They get better en masse. One does not have much substance, but in a large amount they satisfy. Also, they're about ships.

Q4) How close are they to the movie?
A4) Not very. Though there are scenes/lines taken directly from the books, they are from here and there throughout the series, not just from "The Far Side of the World."

Q5) Ah! So the movie is bad?
Q5) NO! The movie rocks! It's well-paced, not wildly accurate, and fun! And it's about ships locked in a mortal struggle!

Q6) What is your final verdict?
A6) This series is worth reading, one after the other or spread out over a number of months, audiobook or ebook, by man, woman, and child.

5 out of 6 stars (It's not exactly high art, but it's grand in scope and execution)

And it's a series of books about ships.
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