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The Thirteen-Gun Salute (Aubrey & Maturin #13)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  6,387 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews

Captain Jack Aubrey sets sail for the South China Sea with a new lease on life. Following his dismissal from the Royal Navy (a false accusation), he has earned reinstatement through his daring exploits as a privateer, brilliantly chronicled in The Letter of Marque. Now he is to shepherd Stephen Maturin—his friend, ship's surgeon, and sometimes intelligence agent—on a diplo

Paperback, Alternate Cover 039330907X, 9780393309072, 319 pages
Published 1992 by Norton (first published 1989)
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Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"...for him, Truth was what he could make others believe."
- Patrick O'Brian, Thirteen-Gun Salute


"...What I meant was that if he could induce others to believe what he said, then for him the statement acquired some degree of truth, a reflection of their belief that it was true; and this reflected truth might grow stronger with time and repetition until it became conviction, indistinguishable from ordinary factual truth, or very nearly so.” (The Thriteen-Gun Salute, 188)

Certain O'Brian novels jus
Glad I bought the next two, because this doesn't end at the end. Scads of good fun, as always. Probably the most memorable part of this adventure was Stephen's trip to the Buddhist temple, where men and beasts live together in harmony and Stephen basically gets to have the on-shore naturalizing experience he is repeatedly denied while sailing with Jack. Too good. Also, enemy dissection.

Words & Notes

p. 29 As usual, Stephen is at the cutting edge of medical technology, stocking "plaster of Par
Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of all of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series up to this point, The Thirtheen-Gun Salute gets further away from the sea battles and life aboard ship to really delve into the interior of a new and exciting frontier (in the eyes of the characters as set in a pre-"Planet Earth" world) and paints a not-always-pretty picture of diplomacy in the Far East as it was some 200 years ago. O'Brian describes Maturin's jungle romp in such flowing and absorbing detail that it reads as vividly as watching any o ...more
Apr 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
At some point O'Brian decided this series would go on indefinitely. The structure of some of the books then became odd. There are some that don't end - they just stop. There's an obvious on-going, unresolved plot but - tough luck - you're gonna hafta wait for the next volume to get a resolution. This is one of them. It ends with a cliff-hanger (which some don't) and for some reason it's easier to handle then when a book just stops apparently arbitrarily.

So, thirteen books in and it's getting har
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, regency
Now that Aubrey is restored to the King's Navy once more, he's off on another mission, this time to Malaysia. His particular friend, Dr.Stephen Maturin, is along to spy on the French's forces in Malaysia. (view spoiler) ...more
K.M. Weiland
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After more than a year's hiatus from my favorite maritime series, all I can sigh is: I love these stories. Patrick O'Brian may well be the most brilliant man to ever put pen to page. This installment easily bears up to its predecessors, with its subtle humor, nuanced characters, and balanced pacing. Can't wait for the next one!
Renee M
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The one with orangutans, catamites, dissections, a shipwreck, and the arrogant envoy...
Julie Davis
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to Patrick Tull's masterful reading. Of course. :-)

By book 13 you're already heavily invested in the ongoing adventures of captain Jack Aubrey and doctor Stephen Maturin. So I will just say that I treat these as leisurely serial novels, much like the radio shows of old, where the adventures keep the story rolling along and we enjoy the characters' developing lives as much as the main action. This was enjoyable and kept me rolling along to anticipate a leisurely listen to book 14.
Another solid entry in the Aubrey-Maturin saga, The Thirteen-Gun Salute finds our seagoing protagonists heading to the South China Sea on a diplomatic mission.

By this thirteenth book, titles are starting to feel more like arbitrary chunks of the ongoing dual biography than discrete novels. A high degree of familiarity with the series is presumed, but for dedicated readers this is part of the charm.

Highlights include Dr. Maturin's sojourn at a Buddhist temple in an isolated volcanic crater -- a
Sep 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dull, dull, dull. I could not get into this story with the endless expeditions by Stephen to see all manner of flora and fauna and I heard as much as I would like to know about orangutans. I know this was his cover, but this stuff went on and on and on to the point where my mind wandered, waiting for something else to happen.

The only interesting part was where Jack got his commission back in the Royal Navy and this could have been told in a short story, which perhaps this story should have been.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, read-audio
I am reporting this book read, but I am re-listening to selected chapters that I enjoyed.

I was disappointed that they changed ships again from The Surprise to The Diane, but gratified that Jack has been re-instated. The spy stuff with Stephen and his old French advisories was a little confusing, and the new Envoy is not a nice guy. The ending caught me off guard after the big blow, but I know that everything will carry on until my turn for the next volume comes off of hold at my library.
May 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The saga continues, but it's starting to drag. Ended with a real cliffhanger.

cover art: It's so refreshing to have cover art depicting an identifiable scene from the text. This series is much the exception in that most of it's cover art does.
The thirteen-gun salute is the number of volleys given in honor of an ambassador, an envoy, and that title here presages a tale of a diplomatic mission that Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin are assigned on behalf of England.

But first, we find Aubrey still sailing the Surprise as in the last book, The Letter of Marque. That changes rather quickly, although never quick enough for Jack, when he is reinstated to the Royal Navy because of his exploits on behalf of the nation as a privateer
Jeff LeMaster
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whenever a dignitary comes aboard one of the King’s ships, there is always a thundering salute from the cannons, the number of discharges determined by the rank of the honored guest. Thirteen guns is the right, proper salute for a royal ambassador, and Captain Aubrey has been commissioned to deliver the King’s representative from London safely around the world to a strategic Pacific post in the early nineteenth century British Empire.

The highlight of the book is the pilgrimage Dr. Steven Maturin
I've enjoyed the whole Aubrey-Maturin series very much -- I'm up to book 16 now -- but I've singled this one out as a 'favourite'. Taken as a whole, it isn't the best in the series, as I couldn't muster much interest in the politics of the invented island state our heroes visit. Of course, being a minor entry in the Aubrey-Maturin series still makes it better than most other novels.

What makes it a favourite is the chapter where Stephen, accompanied by an orang-utan, climbs a mountain to visit a
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Aubrey must deal with a diplomatic mission and a prideful envoy. There are long sections describing seafaring and Maturin's natural philosophy as well as diplomatic details with only a couple of truly exciting adventures. Aubrey is reinstated in the navy and is given the Diane which he cut out from the French in a previous book. Along with Maturin and a whole unknown crew, they head around Africa and to the South China Sea. At the same time Captain Pullings takes the Surprise around South Americ ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nautical, historical
I am morally obligated at this point to give every single book in the Aubreid a 5-star rating, and honestly even the worst books in the series don't earn the designation "worst" so much as "not quite as perfectly amazing." In a previous review, I think I mentioned that the mostly-ashore, Stephen-centric volumes appeal to me less--partially because I'm so greedy for all the beautiful nautical detail, the loving descriptions of the sea, and as much time spent with Jack Aubrey as possible, so anyon ...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
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diplomatic intrigue! Shipwreck! Breaking Bad-style enemy disposal! And none of those were even the best part: a 30 page nearly dialogue free interlude in which Stephen Maturin hangs out with orangutans at a Buddhist temple. These books are amazing and thrive from O'Brian's self-indulgent writing and lengthy digressions. I don't come to these books for tightly coiled plots and twists. I come to bask in the most fully realized world I've ever encountered in book form.

These books don't so much hav
I usually don’t read series that contain more than 5-7 books. Most authors should really stick to trilogies. You know how it is – predictability sets in, each book follows the same basic template, and the series loses its charm. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series is the first series I’ve found that defies this rule.

But I’m probably preaching to the choir. If you’ve gotten this far in the series, you know why you should read this book. The deep and ever maturing characters – the exciting nav
Glad the continuing (and slow) storyline with Wray and Ledward was finally brought to a close. I was getting a bit tired of them lurking about. Though (view spoiler) was worth the slog.

This lacked the excitement of previous books, especially the at-sea bits. I listened to it with a disinterested ear for the most part, though there were were some high points. A sign that I might not have been fully engaged by one of the Aubrey volum
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great like the whole series. Well written. A joy to read slowly. This novel seems very transitory to winding up a couple loose ends hanging the past couple books and going into some new directions. I love the Maturin side of this novel with Van Buren and his explorations of Buddhist paradise...lovely.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
As always, I loved this next "chapter" in the continuing story of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. What stuck me the must in this re-reading of this volume is both how warm Maturin can be--when he visits the Buddhist temple ground--and how utterly cold and merciless he can be when he finally catches up with two old enemies.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
No weak links with this volume. There is less naval action in this story, but that only gives O'Brian more opportunity for brilliant character development as he takes Aubrey and Maturin to the South China Sea. Again, a superb novel.
Alan Swift
Another excellent historical novel although I suspect that for those looking for rip-roaring naval action there would be insufficient interest. As others have commented the portion of the book relating Maturin's time at the temple was the most satisfying.
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook version.

Do not cross Stephen Maturin or his friends. He deals with then with shocking coldness.

Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed. Not enough action. Too much time on land in the orient or the middle east or wherever it was that they went. Not enough cannons.
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A consistently enjoyable novel in the series. We are treated to the normal fare, with beautifully written prose always the hallmark. One never wants any of these novels to end.
Judith Johnson
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved it of course!!!!!
Andreas Schmidt
H.M.S. Diane
E' il tempo della svolta anche per Maturin. Dopo aver riconquistato l'amore dell'amazzone Diana Villiers, è il tempo di diventare padre ma al contempo Jack Aubrey il Fortunato è reintegrato nei ruoli e questa volta assieme a Maturin deve lasciare la cara Surprise per diventare il comandante della Diane, il vascello catturato ai francesi anni prima e dirigersi spiegando al vento anche i fazzoletti, nel Mar della Cina, a Pulo Bratang, al fine di scortare il signor Fox e il suo seguito
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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
  • 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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“First there was the sky, high, pure and of a darker blue than he had ever seen. And then there was the sea, a lighter, immensely luminous blue that reflected blue into the air, the shadows and the sails; a sea that stretched away immeasurably when the surge raised the frigate high, showing an orderly array of great crests, each three furlongs from its predecessor, and all sweeping eastwards in an even, majestic procession.” 4 likes
“What I meant was that if he could induce others to believe what he said, then for him the statement acquired some degree of truth, a reflection of their belief that it was true; and this reflected truth might grow stronger with time and repetition until it became conviction, indistinguishable from ordinary factual truth, or very nearly so.” 3 likes
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