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The Surgeon's Mate

(Aubrey & Maturin #7)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  9,658 ratings  ·  303 reviews
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their latest victory to the government. But Maturin is a marked man for the havoc he has wrought in the French intelligence network in the New World, and the attention of two privateers soon becomes menacing. The chase that follows through the fogs and shallows of the Grand Banks is as ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 17th 1992 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 15th 1980)
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Andrew Corrie In the first instance, he uses a nail (not sure where that came from; and which Stephen manages to drop through the privy); after that, cutlery which…moreIn the first instance, he uses a nail (not sure where that came from; and which Stephen manages to drop through the privy); after that, cutlery which is supplied with the meals from Mme. Lehideux; and then, after Jagiello's endearments, with a cold chisel.(less)

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4.39  · 
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 ·  9,658 ratings  ·  303 reviews


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Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
The glorious saga continues!

Ugh. "Saga." The word sounds bloated, melodramatically windswept, ponderous. I don't find Patrick O'Brian's seafaring war epic to be any of those things. It suits me.

Perhaps it will suit you, too. Do you like historical fiction set circa the early 1800s? Do you like good, sometimes elegant writing? How about bursts of action aboard cannon-blasting ships? Contemplation of the human spirit? Observations on nature? Can you endure drawn-out scenes of everyday life that m
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Who is this surgeon's mate that the title alludes to? I confessed that I was baffled for a long time reading this seventh title in the Patrick O'Brian acclaimed series. The surgeon is clearly Stephen Maturin, but he acts mostly as a lone wolf, a necessity of his involvement as a secret agent. His best friend, Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy, is cast in a position of authority rather than as a mate. Maturin takes no assistant to help him in his medical duties aboard ship, and a new characte ...more
Darwin8u
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, aubrey-maturin
"The pretext: dictatorships were absurdly sensitive to the public opinion they continually outraged; they always had to be in the right, to be morally impeccable; and that was one of the reasons why those who had been much mutilated in their interrogation were rarely allowed to live, whether they had given their information or not."
- Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate

description

When I was first introduced to these novels and read the first couple, I couldn't believe how GOOD the were, but was skeptical t
...more
Andy
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another old favourite, book 7 for this series!

Picks up straight away from the previous yarn, fresh from their success against the American Man-O-War... Huzzah! Lucky Jack & Dr Maturin abound Halifax & join in with the general gaiety of the time before making way for a dash for Blighty which involves a sea chase, what ensues thereafter is a spot of home troubles, some intelligence work, a new commission, a dalliance with Diane Villiers for the Doctor..... In truth it’s all quite formulaic
...more
Sherwood Smith
This is one of my favorites, which partially brings an arc to a close. These arcs are intersecting, which is one of the brilliant aspects of Patrick O'Brian's roman fleuve. But there is a sense of closure in this one, which (in a reread) marks a milestone.

Structurally, it is remarkable in a number of ways. It feels like three novellas tightly wired together. It begins with Aubrey and Maturin sailing triumphantly into Halifax with the news that the Shannon had defeated the Chesapeake. This ship-t
...more
Wealhtheow
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Jack is deeply dismayed when a ill-judged fling in Nova Scotia threatens to come back to England and reveal his perfidy. He's thrilled to be ordered back to sea, this time to transport his friend Stephen to co-opt a Catalan base to England's side. Meanwhile, Stephen has just returned from a trip to Paris, where he presented a scholarly paper (very badly, though it was well received) and found a place for Diana to stay for her confinement. The mission is a success, the base is taken--and then on ...more
Susan
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2011, jack-aubrey
I really enjoyed this entry in the Jack Aubrey canon. Actually, I think it is one of my favorites, right up there with the first in the series.

The characters of Jack and Stephen continue to amaze and delight me in so many ways. I enjoy their dynamic together and how they deal with the situations they find themselves in.

The best part about these stories are the sea adventures and this one did not disappoint in that category.

However, as much as I commend the author on his wonderful storytelling, I
...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Benedict Cumberbatch reads the seventh historical novel in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series.

In the early summer of 1812, Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr Stephen Maturin arrive in Canada on HMS Shannon after escaping their American captors.

Produced and abridged by Lisa Osborne.
John Frankham
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Patrick O'Brian back to his very best in this seventh Aubrey-Maturin novel.

Such a good writer of English, as well-as a master story-teller, and a good expression of characters and their development through time.

The GR blurb mentions only a little of the incidents and adventures, from the Atlantic to the Baltic, to inland France, and back to the home fleet where there are a couple of key developments:

'Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are ordered home by dispatch vessel to bring the news of their l
...more
Leigh
Another exceptional instalment in the series... Nothing more to say!
Eric_W
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
You may remember from Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian that Jack is without command after having sunk the Waakzaanheid, a Dutch 74. At home in England he finds he has been cheated by a scoundrel and Stephen is busily taking on a new espionage assignment that also gets Jack a ship, the Ariel. Jack hopes for a colonelcy, a device used to financially reward post-captains. When his wife Sophie protests that perhaps taking a colonelcy in the army with no duties attached might be considered corrupt J ...more
Boots
it was very difficult to choose a star rating for this installment of the aubrey/maturin series. on the one hand, i can't stand diana and she was all over this in every worst way. on the other hand, once we got rid of her, there were some genuinely interesting moments ~ particularly an escape plot from a fortress which provided some solidly hilarious exchanges (reminding me why this series is fun!).

in the end i had to give it only two stars because it's about 150 pages too long and Lt. Pullings
...more
Edward Erdelac
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great installment. It's really at this point that I feel the Aubrey-Maturin series is less of a sequence of separate novels and more like overlarge chapters in one very large story. The events of the previous book led directly into this one. Maturin and Diana cross paths with the nefarious Johnson again, Jack has an ill-advised tryst with a loud mouthed society butterfly, and is humorously baffled by the boyish good looks of Lithuanian Swiss Army soldier Gedymin Jagiello and the incessant passes ...more
Nooilforpacifists
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: naval-fiction
To date, five out of the seven have been Napoleonic spy stories, not Napoleonic naval stories. There is some enjoyment in the former, to be sure. But to compare O'Brian's heroes to Hornblower, Ramage, Parkinson, or even Kent/Reeman--well, I just don't understand. Aubrey loses more ships in these seven books then those other lead characters lose in each's entire series.

I may read more of the dozens of O'Brian books. But only after wrapping my head around the very different mission of O'Brian's mi
...more
Callie Hornbuckle
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So very good! Even when the characters frustrate me so much I want to kick them in their imaginary shins, it's a sign of the excellent writing. I also appreciate that even though fate (a.k.a. the hand of the author) swoops in to save the characters often, they are always actively working to solve their own problems before that happens.
Patrick
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Perhaps his insensibility was no more than a now habitual protection, a way of making the inner void more nearly tolerable: he certainly felt his heart move, as it were involuntarily. Then again, he too was enjoying himself very much more than ever he had expected: the void was still there, certainly, a blank like the white pages of a book after the word Finis, but it was far down, far beneath his consciousness of the moment.’

Of all the historical novels I’ve read so far by Patrick O’Brian, 'Th
...more
C. A. Powell
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Surgeon’s Mate is the 7th Aubrey/Maturin Royal Navy story set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. It is 1812 and there is a new war with the USA. Aubrey and Maturin have escaped on board the HMS Shannon and been present during the battle with USS Chesapeake. From Canada, Aubrey and Maturin make their way back to Britain where more dilemmas await each man’s careful consideration. As a Captain at sea, Jack Aubrey is tremendous. On land, he seems to become a bit of a buffoon. Quite by accid ...more
Sid Nuncius
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is now my third time reading through this brilliant series and I am reminded again how beautifully written and how wonderfully, addictively enjoyable they are.

In The Surgeon's Mate, Jack's affairs ashore are in a tangle (to say the least) and Stephen helps both practically and by requesting that Jack be the captain commanding a tricky intelligence mission in the Baltic. The subsequent action and thoughtful developments are, as always, thrilling and engrossing.

Patrick O'Brian is steeped in
...more
Kathryn
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Could not get past the second chapter.
Shira
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent ending! Both unexpected, despite the title, and wholly entertaining to the very last word. The shifting third person once in a while made me wonder whose head we had just been in, but never interfered with the story, and gave a nice glimpse into the mind of each main character.
Highly recommended.
Lisa
Another fabulous instalment in the continued adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his BFF Dr Stephen Maturin that I hugely enjoyed, even if it was sadly interrupted by too much work and a new downstairs neighbour who likes to scream things that make no sense at regular intervals.

Having long been at sea, on landing in Nova Scotia Captain Aubrey has found himself having an ill-advised fling with a young flibbertigibbet who, as soon as he finally gets himself home again, is writing copious notes f
...more
John Jr.
Because other reviews here and elsewhere can provide a good account of this book, I won't try to. But I will offer a suggestion for anyone else who's reading the series.

Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of historical novels, which take place during the Napoleonic Wars, contain a vast number of unfamiliar terms, especially nautical and geographical ones. A careful reader can get the gist of what's being said, but a lot will remain vague. For instance, you can figure out hull-up versus hull-
...more
Roger Burk
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pleasure
Our heroes (and heroine) set sail from Halifax in a packet for England, but they are pursued by two persistent American privateers hired by Diana's spurned husband, who will spend money like water to get her back (or perhaps the Blue Peter diamond she took with her, which evidently is worth enough to build and fit out a 36-gun frigate). After some adventures, they arrive in England, but Diana is with child, so Stephen takes her to Paris with him on a safe-conduct pass for her accouchement, while ...more
Chuck
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
64 out of 100 for 2010. I'm beginning to think I'm not going to make 100 books this year. . . not giving up, but it's going to be hard to get there.

This is the first of the 'Aubrey/Maturin' series that I've read, the series of books on which the film 'Master and Commander' was set. I enjoyed it a great deal; it does a good job of recreating life in the first two decades of the 1800s, and it recreates sea life in the 'under sail' navy. One learns a great deal about navigation and ships by reading
...more
Kent
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018
There may be other writers as good as O'Brian, but at the moment none come to mind.
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This is a tight novel that covers a lot of ground (and ocean). The novel starts in Halifax, Nova Scotia shortly after H.M.S. Shannon's victory over the U.S.S. Chesapeake in Massachusetts Bay during the War of 1812. Then we experience a thrilling sea chase across much of the North Atlantic as Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin, and Diana Villiers are pursued by an American intelligence agent. After some time at home with his family at Ashgrove Cottage, Jack is again given a command on an important miss ...more
Cameo
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit, I took a really long break shortly after starting this. It wasn't intentionally! So when I finally relocated my copy, the reading again went smoothly. And I must say; I really do love this series! If you're not used to it, it takes a page or two to get into the old fashioned jargon - but then it's smooth sailing (pun intended).

This particular novel I found extra enjoyable, as the enemy this time in parts of the book is my native country - Denmark. The british having bombed my capita
...more
Andrew Nease
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading the Aubrey & Maturin books for some time now, and they continue to be enjoyable. Without giving away the ending, it was nice to finally see them go there after all these years; if I was going to nitpick, I thought the book's Dumas-esque climax veered perilously close to jumping the shark, but it never did more than veer, and it at least would have been good shark-jumping. I was also impressed that O'Brian managed to make it so that Jack's basic likability as a character was ...more
Mark
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
It had been a number of years since I read one in this series, so it took me awhile to fall into the cadence of O'Brian's style, and trying to remember where the last one left off. But once I became immersed in the story, I was caught up once again in the exploits of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend; Doctor, naturalist and spy, Stephen Maturin.

The happenings onshore certainly advance the plot, but it is the adventures at sea where the story really takes off. From a cat and mouse chase across
...more
Megan
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This really is the perfect series -- each book is enough like the other books that you know exactly what you're getting, so you can always pick them up when you're in the right mood, and the plot progresses enough that they are also distinct from each other. I only wish the funny bits were easier to quote out of context!
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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

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 Ionian Mission (Aubrey & Maturin #8)
  • Treason's Harbour (Aubrey & Maturin #9)
  • The Far Side of the World (Aubrey & Maturin #10)
  • The Reverse of the Medal (Aubrey & Maturin #11)
“And although in many cases these unions proved happy enough, sailors being excellent husbands, often away and handy about the house when ashore, it did make for a curious gathering when the spouses were invited to a ball.” 8 likes
“Were you ever in Elsinore, Mr Jagiello?’ asked Jack.
Oh, many a time, sir,’ said Jagiello. ‘I know it well. I believe I could show you Hamlet’s grave from here.’
I was really wondering whether they had ten or thirteen inch mortars on the upper terrace,’ said Jack, ‘but I should be very happy to see Hamlet’s grave as well.’
Both ten and thirteen, sir. And if you go a little to the right from the farthest turret, there are some trees: and among those trees there is the grave. You can just make out the rocks.’
So there he lies,’ said jack, his telescope leveled. ‘Well, well: we must all come to it. But it was a capital piece, capital. I never laughed so much in my life.’
A capital piece indeed,’ said Stephen, ‘and I doubt I could have done much better myself. But, do you know, I have never in my own mind classed it among the comedies. Pray did you read it recently?’
I never read it at all,’ said Jack. ‘That is to say, not right through. No: I did something better than that—I acted in it. There, the upper terrace fires. I was a midshipman at the time.”
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