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The Nutmeg of Consolation (Aubrey & Maturin #14)

4.4  ·  Rating details ·  6,514 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
"[The series shows] a joy in language that jumps from every page....You're in for a wonderful voyage."—Cutler Durkee, People

Shipwrecked on a remote island in the Dutch East Indies, Captain Aubrey, surgeon and secret intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, and the crew of the Diane fashion a schooner from the wreck. A vicious attack by Malay pirates is repulsed, but the makeshi
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1991)
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Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
“I read novels with the utmost pertinacity. I look upon them - I look upon good novels - as a very valuable part of literature, conveying more exact and finely-distinguished knowledge of the human heart and mind than almost any other, with greater breadth and depth and fewer constraints.”
― Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation


For action, this book is a bit light. There is a bit of fighting when the crew of the shipwrecked HMS Diane are trying to building a schooner. Tobacco and alcohol mi
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) by:
This, the 14th volume in Patrick O'Brian's brilliant Aubrey-Maturin canon, is one of my absolute favorites of the twenty completed novels in this wonderful Napoleonic wars seafaring series. "The Nutmeg of Consolation" is a page-turner from page one on.

We join Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin in the East Indies as they are rescued from a deserted island, acquire the beautifully Dutch-built small frigate the Nutmeg of Consolation, fight a running sea-battle with the much larger French frig
Renee M
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The one with the lady pirate, the cannibals, Australia, and the platypus. A very Stephen-centric novel, but without the spying and intrigue. Lots of interesting info about the New South Wales section of Australia, and a creepy new fact about the cuddly platypus.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This particular edition to the series may well have been entitled "When Maturin, Cannibals and Platypuses Attack." This (and the previous book in the series) is rather meandering and doesn't seem to have much in the way of a concrete objective in terms of where the author wanted to take the characters, but it's Patrick O'Brain, so who cares? His descriptive detail, the viewpoints of the characters, (mostly and seemingly increasingly from Maturin), the vast knowledge of contemporar
K.M. Weiland
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slower and little more self-indulgent than some of the previous entries, but a delight from start to finish, as always. The early part, on the island, put me in mind of Far Side of the World (only better than what we find in that installment), and the return to India (which was very enjoyable in the previous book) and the exploration of Australia was lovely. Not too many sea battles here, but it’s perhaps funnier than any of the previous books. Wonderful to finally get back to the Surpr ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Great historical fiction, only passingly good fiction. A fun read, nonetheless.

The usual suspects maneuvered around the western Pacific to touch on as many real--or realistic--situations as possible. Some sub-plots better developed than others, but surely the Aubery-Maturin true believers will love it all.

O'Brian resisted the temptation to leave us hanging from another cliff.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every one of my Patrick O'Brian reviews are the same: I love these books! I think the best bit of this one is them being shipwrecked (again!) and having to find a way out of it. This kind of thing really makes you realize how little ability modern people have with their hands. I know that *I* couldn't build a ship from scratch using the materials from a wrecked one plus whatever was available on a desert island. How about you?

I'll be sad when I come to the end of the series. But wait, that means
Amy VanGundy
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is honest-to-God one of my favorite authors/series. I love this books. They are tremendously well researched. It's ridiculous to compare these to any other "historical fiction" that I am aware of. You would think they had been written when the events within them actually occurred.

Nutmeg of Consolation has Aubrey and Maturin recovering from a shipwreck on an island. They manage to get off the island with the help of a passing ship that came to collect birds nests which are used for "bird's
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
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jack-aubrey, 2014
After taking a hiatus from the Jack Aubrey series from the last unsuccessful attempt (The Thirteen Gun Salute), I finally picked up this volume.

You would think that this book wasn't that good considering the time it took me to read. Not so. Finding the time was the problem, but when I did I was completely immersed in this latest adventure. It was good to see the camaraderie between Jack and Stephen once again.

I thought the story was interesting, though perhaps not quite as exciting as some of t
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Stephen's experience is life in a nutshell. You have a ship. Your ship is gone. You have money. Your money is gone. You have shipmates. Your shipmates have been killed. You have a nice supply of coca leaves. Then you don't. But you find a new ship. You make more money. You get new shipmates. So many major life changes in just a few short weeks.

What remains constant: Friendship. Devotion to his professional goals. The mission he has sworn to carry out. (Marriage isn't included in this list, becau
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Davis
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-m-listening
Patrick Tull, Jack Aubrey, and Stephen Maturin - my companions sailing through the seas of the Napoleonic Wars. This book was chock full of all the things that make great adventure, interspersed with some appreciation of the natural wonders of South Wales. If you're looking at a review for book 14, you already probably like the series.

This one has only a few parts I found exciting, but I was content to go along for the ride in the other sections. I will say that much of the time a problem is in
Dan Glover
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
As with all the novels in this series (which might be considered one long novel), I loved this book. All the elements of a great novel are here, but there is one ingredient in the Aubrey/Maturin novels that is missing from so many other great works: a deeply developed, realistically represented, quirky friendship between two men. The friendship between Jack and Stephen makes all the other male friendships I can think of in famous literature seem caricatured or shallow or like a device through wh ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Delicious episode at the beginning in which the Marines, up until now a mere garnish in the story salad, act with energy and foresight to save the crew from complete annihilation. And a little coda shortly after, in which they make a colorful show of force to scare off more pirates. And I love this tidbit on page 91: "'He counted his chickens without reckoning his host,' said Stephen." Maturin uncharacteristically slips in a loving dig at Aubrey's ineptitude with proverbs, which Aubrey doesn't e ...more
Chris Conrady
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: age-of-sail
It's amazing that 14 books into a series you can still have interesting and new adventures. Patrick O'Brian has done a wonderful job keeping things new. It seems like it would be easy for things to just be repetitive, but they are not. There is a lot going on in the world in the early 1800's and these novels are a great way to explore a vast many subjects.

In nutmeg, the crew finds itself in a life or death battle with far east islanders - somewhere off the coast of Indonesia and ends up on the
Jun 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is so much more eventful than The Thirteen Gun Salute, much more action-filled and much more dramatic. To some extent, that's a disappointment because there's so much less time for the kind of small moments of character interplay that O' Brian does so well. On the other hand, it made for an incredibly engaging and satisfying novel which I finished very, very quickly, building smoothly to a great cliffhanger of an ending.

I was delighted to see Padeen return, especially after a novel which wa
Unfortunately this installment took too long to get moving. It wasn't until the last third that things started coming together and the plot got moving. Naturally it ends on an abrupt sort of cliffie with half-resolution (Stephen's poisonous encounter with a male platypus). I won't rest easy about the fate of Stephen's ex-loblolly Padeen Colman until I start the next book in the series. The rescue attempt to get Padeen out of prison in New South Wales was the exciting, torturous final act the boo ...more
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I didn't enjoy Patrick Tull's narration nearly as much as that of Simon Vance in other books in this series, I still really liked the story and got used to Mr. Tull. Still, if you have the choice, go with Simon Vance is my recommendation. This story is more of a direct continuation of the previous book than some of the other books in the series. The previous book ("The Thirteen Gun Salute") kind of leaves the reader high and dry (along with Jack Aubrey et al) and leaves the reader with ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This, the 14th novel in the British naval historical fiction series telling the stories of captain Jack Aubrey and physician/spy Stephen Maturin, may be my favorite so far in this engaging, erudite, albeit long series. I've given it 5 stars and as I think back on how deeply I've enjoyed this whole series, I am considering going back to my other reviews and changing them all from 4 to 5 stars. Anyway, this installment is chock-full of fabulousness-- shipwreck on a desert island, Malay pirates, bi ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patrick O'Brian continues as excellently as always. This story doesn't really have a dramatic arc of any sort and is simply a continuation of the voyage that started in the previous novel. But that does not mean that important issues are not handled: Captain Aubrey is shown to suffer from a condition that changes his behavior while Maturin struggles with his sense of responsibility for an old friend who is now suffering as a convict in Australia. The harshness of life and the evilness of men in ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to think that I just liked the exploits of Jack Aubrey and Steven Maturin but, in truth, I now believe that I enjoy the series because of the beautiful prose of Patrick O’Brian.

This is the second installment of “The Thirteen Gun Salute” and starts with the ship’s crew on an island building a boat from the remnants of Jack’s command that was destroyed in a typhoon. Next they’re attached by Borneo head hunter pirates in a GREAT land battle! Then, there’s a GREAT accounting of Steven Maturin
Cole Schoolland
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certainly one of the more geographically adventurous chapters in the series. There are so many events and so many places, it is hard to really focus on any one theme. This comes nearer to the tail end of a very long voyage that spans several books fought with much hardship. All of this hardship; the shipwreck, the marooning, the raiding Malay pirates, and the misery of Botany Bay juxtaposed against the happy sights and thoughts of home. I think it is best summed up by the very last line of text ...more
Alex Sarll
I forget who it was said that if Jane Austen had a brother who'd gone to sea, he might have written the Aubrey & Maturin books, but there's a lot in it. The waspish wit and the godawful social minefields are all here, but then so is so much more. There's also stuff which would never have been possible in a novel of the time, but which one feels sure is accurate, for O'Brian has that great gift - shared by Marguerite Yourcenar and precious few others - of writing historical novels which, with ...more
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just started the audio book - but I've been eager to finish the story arc started in The Thirteen Gun salute. Jack, Stephen and all my favorite crew are marooned on a desert island after a shipwreck - with important intelligence documents! I'll let you know if it holds up the standard or the previous series.

I have now finished reading all the Aubrey/Maturin books in order TWICE!!! They have enriched my life so much by knowing so much real information about England's navy in Napoleonic times. So
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aubrey-maturin
Another leg of the journey finished. Started in Batavia, Java, ended in Sydney, New South Wales.

A shipwreck; a flight with pirates on Swallow-Nest island; a hitchhike on-board a Chinese junk, a new ship, a naval battle with a French frigate, Cornelie. Reunion with old HMHS Surprise; The turning fortune of Dr. Maturin.

Well paced, lots of action, on land and sea. Language is precise, charming, and elegant.

By now, I must be a seasoned sea dog, as Dr. Maturin described himself, :-)

Delve in the ne
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, regency
The ship rats get into Stephen's coca leaves and become addicts! Ship wrecks! Jack and Stephen sail to Australia! Stephen thinks he's lost his fortune, and finds out that Diana has had a daughter!

Lots of great character moments, and the writing when Stephen is contemplating his great happiness at the end of the book is truly lovely. It does kind of randomly end, though.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Seemed a lot more human than some of the other books. Really enjoyed it.
Andreas Schmidt
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noce moscata ...
I fatti riprendono quelli in cui la Diane s'incaglia e lo scafo si apre come un guscio di noce, su un'isola in cui il dottor Maturin si rivela un totale inetto in questioni marinaresche, e l'equipaggio di naufraghi deve lavorare il doppio per evitare che compia terribili danni (le cime legate dal dottore devono essere controllate due volte, qualunque lavoro di fatica deve essere assistito) eppure si dimostra essere il cacciatore provetto, che assicura all'intero equipaggio il cib
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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
  • 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
“Sir,’ said Stephen, ‘I read novels with the utmost pertinacity. I look upon them--I look upon good novels--as a very valuable part of literature, conveying more exact and finely-distinguished knowledge of the human heart and mind than almost any other, with greater breadth and depth and fewer constraints.” 30 likes
“What do you say to taking up our game where we left off? I was winning, you will recall.'

Winning, for all love: how your ageing memory does betray you, my poor friend,' said Stephen, fetching his 'cello. They tuned, and at no great distance Killick said to his mate, 'There they are, at it again. Squeak, squeak; boom, boom. And when they do start a-playing, it's no better. You can't tell t'other from one. Never nothing a man could sing to, even as drunk as Davy's sow.'

I remember them in the Lively: but it is not as chronic as a wardroom full of gents with German flutes, bellyaching night and day, like we had in Thunderer. No. Live and let live, I say.'

Fuck you, William Grimshaw.”
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