Joe O'Loughlin's Reviews > Master and Commander

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
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Jul 13, 08


"Never mind maneuvers - go straight at 'em!" This describes the main character's temperament perfectly. But when combined with his alter-ego's more calculating nature, the POV is entirely human and utterly compelling in it's contradictions, flaws and dramatic leverage.

This book had everything in it that I love in great books.

The sentence structure and wordplay were so dexterous and pleasing that I chuckled at its art and cleverness. I learned later that Mr. "O'Brian" (his nom de plume, a fact revealed after his death) was a big fan of Jane Austen, so I read "Pride and Prejudice" and immediately saw this most unlikely and remarkable connection between two authors of different gender, subject matter and time periods.

I loved the simplicity and propulsive "though line" of the plot.

I especially loved the characters, not just the incredibly real Captain Jack Aubrey and his "particular friend" Dr. Stephen Maturin, but also every single background character that seemed so well-formed and unforgettable, even years after I read it the first time.

I loved the thrilling action sequences: danger at sea; wartime strategy and tactics; bloody fights; bravery; patriotism; boys growing into men; and the heavy weight of leadership.

I loved the book's emphasis on the importance of optimism, spontanaeity and self-confidence in a fight, tempered by the valuable qualities ("shining parts") of a most loyal and trustworthy friend: strategy, scrupulousness, discretion and even a singular bloody-mindedness when needed.

I also loved the dialog that seemed so true to its time, although the author wrote it hundreds of years after that refined, courteous, remarkably expressive manner of speech evaporated into the shadows of time.

And of course, I loved the thrilling sense of adventure that made me lose track of my surroundings and instantly whisked me away to these characters' world whenever I opened the book.

It is one of the best books I ever read, and I've read it three times so far. All 23 of Mr. O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series are great reads, but I would start with this one if you want to get hooked.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Charles Bell Thanks for the great review.


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris Why not 5 stars? i'm curious.


Edward Truitt Written like a true devotee of the art of fine writing. I think that Post Captain is his closest brush with Austenesque.


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris Thanks, I'll accept that.


message 5: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe O'Loughlin Chris wrote: "Why not 5 stars? i'm curious."

I guess because it's not Shakespeare or T.S. Eliot. The writing is very, very good, but I have to save 5 stars for something that is as close to perfection as can be.

Best regards,

Joe O.


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