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The Commodore (Aubrey & Maturin #17)

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  5,911 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
Having survived a long and desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances.

For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it is disastrous: his little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situa
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1994)
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Karla
This installment in the Aubrey/Maturin saga has definitely been a late-series high point. After several books at sea, our duo makes port at home where they find high drama in their personal lives. Jack's wife Sophie has taken extreme umbrage at the nearby presence of Clarissa Oakes, Jack's former passenger on a previous voyage who has a dress from the same bolt of cloth Jack gave her. *facepalm* And Stephen returns to find his wife Diana MIA when the reality of their daughter Bridget's autism be ...more
Jocelyn
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I abandoned Tristram Shandy's light-hearted social commentary for a story with guts. Patrick O'Brian never fails to deliver.*

Jack Aubrey has his first fleet command. Part of the plot revolves around a contrast among the leadership styles of three ships' captains:

1. flog your people until they achieve your standard of perfection;
2. have sex with your favorites;
3. train your team so that they master a rewarding skill (in this case, sailing the ship and working its guns so as to maximize the potent
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Jamie Collins
Jack and Stephen return home after a voyage around the world and an absence of years. Stephen meets his young daughter for the first time but does not find the picture of domestic happiness that he wished for. Jack and Sophie are reunited but soon have a falling out over a couple of painful misunderstandings.

They return to sea, Jack having been given command of a squadron and sent publicly to harass slavers off the coast of Africa and privately to intercept a French invasion force. Already distu
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Robert
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Having circum-navigated the globe, Aubrey and Maturin have an interlude back in England before setting off to fight the slave-trade off the coast of Africa. These interludes are the weakest parts of this saga, for me; I just get a bit bored quite quickly. But soon enough we're back at sea with Aubrey in command of a small fleet for the second time and then matters fairly whizz along, like a ship clapping on sail, right up to the sky-scrapers. The problems of fleet command present new challenges ...more
Greg Strandberg
This book has a jaunty pace and some quick turns. In other words, it keeps things moving and you get through the 300 or so pages pretty fast.

I really have to say that the earlier volumes were the best of the series.
Andrea
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books, fiction
Another book set mostly at sea, which I enjoy. This book marks Aubrey's move to a ship of the line, acting as a Commodore of a fleet, very much coming of age as a captain, nearing his advancement as an admiral. He and Stephen are feeling their age a bit, and maturing overall. Stephen also meets his daughter, who seems to be on the autism spectrum, and she is interestingly written. There is also a bit on the dangers of homosexuality in a ship, not out of moral reasons, but more in having a captai ...more
Joel Margolese
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another book in the series. Hits the right notes, even has a battle at sea. Aubrey is moving up the ladder, and Maturin still fights addiction. But they do it with style and aplomb.
Patricia
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the pleasures of reading a series this long, covering this many years, is that as the characters grow older, so do we. Stephen loses his hair. Jack is constantly battling his weight. They both succumb to dangerous wounds and illnesses. They are jealous over their wives' behavior. They are thoroughly recognizable people, living in the world of the British navy during the Napoleonic wars.

It is time for the men to return home to their families. Sophie is a paragon of wisdom, but shows her te
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Nelson
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while (The Mauritius Command, if memory serves) since we've gotten to see Aubrey in the company of other commanders and profit by noting the differences. O'Brian is up to some of his usual tricks in having the different captains stand as symbols of what Jack might have become had he not possessed his particular blend of discipline and camaraderie. Duff, a pederast who sleeps with his favorites, is perhaps the most extreme example of a captain rewarding his underlings to the degree th ...more
Alex Sarll
Having spent longer as Captain than the Napoleonic wars actually lasted, Jack Aubrey finally gets promoted, but of course rank hath its discontents; his squadron is not all that might be wished, containing one ship captained by a martinet without practical experience, and another in which unchecked sodomy has done for the company's discipline. Meanwhile, surgeon and spy Stephen Maturin may be overindulging in those remarkable coca leaves he discovered in South America, and has a highly-placed do ...more
Randy
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen and Jack, after adventuring around the world and adding to their wealth of money and experience, return to England to find Stephen's wife Diana gone and Jack named Commodore of a squadron gazetted to the coast of Africa to put a damper on the slave trade and thence to Ireland to crush a French invasion. Jack has won the fast sloop Ringle gambling with his best friend and the Ringle comes in handy for Stephen is in danger from a French mole highly placed in the royal family. He must retri ...more
Julia
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here we have the 17th installment in this wonderful Napoleonic-era naval adventure series. I've been away from this series for over a year (and am not entirely sure why) and it has been such a delight to again immerse myself in the funny, super-smart, high-stakes world of Jack Aubrey, now a commodore of a fleet of ships, and Stephen Maturin, everyone's favorite illegitimate Irish/Catalan doctor/spy. This book is notable for Maturin meeting his daughter (I did not think I could love Maturin anymo ...more
Wealhtheow
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Maturin and Aubrey return home to their families (Maturin finally meets his daughter!) and then go off adventuring again. Aubrey is given command of a whole fleet of ships, and his joy in the promotion is a delight to read.
Dan Yingst
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Things get much more psychological, and much more focused on Stephen, a trend which I understand continues, and which I'm unsure how much I like.
James
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4* for this book 5* for the series
Susan
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, jack-aubrey, 2014
Another good adventure with Jack and Stephen. I am coming to the end of this series and am sad that I have only a few new stories (to me) to finish up.
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andreas Schmidt
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un po' di qualità
Di per sé questo libro non racconta molto, anzi sembra piuttosto che l'autore abbia perso il gusto di narrare le battaglie in mare (cambiamento di stile?). Più che altro è un rimescolare di alcune vicende, che avevano lasciato il lettore con il fiato sospeso: come al solito, in Patria, Diana ha un problema, allo stesso modo della figlia Brigit, di Maturin. Al ritorno, il dottore semplicemente si ritrova (direi che è quasi una soluzione scontata, se non banale) a dover affidare a
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Neil Coulter
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wonder how many pots of coffee have been consumed in the Aubrey/Maturin novels by this point. Hundreds, surely. It's not possible to read these books without frequent cravings for coffee and toasted cheese.

The best thing about The Commodore is that the long round-the-world voyage of the past several volumes is finally at an end. Jack and Stephen finally return home and find out what's been happening with their families in the years they've been away. I love Sophie, and there's nothing better i

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Terri
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After returning to England, Aubrey is
promoted to commodore, but faces tough times on the home front as jealousy rages on both sides. Maturin finds Diana gone, but meets his daughter. Maturin take his daughter to Spain and before meeting Aubrey and his fleet of ships off the coast of Africa where they make spectacular inroads against the slave trade. It's all a front though and they eventually head north to head off a French squadron planning to land troops in Ireland.
Shuli
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
the book is eventful but left me with a sense of loose end - or rather sudden end.
Maybe some would be commented and resolved in the following books, we will see.

The tone and languages spoken between Aubrey and Maturin are out of characters -they are inconsistent with the speaking styles in the previous books in the series. The appearance of Diana felt forced.

Overall still a fascinating book.
Phil Jeffery
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Another decent book progressing the characters along nicely. I was however disappointed with the ending - I suspect the author was on tight deadline as the story was suddenly wrapped up, and sadly the last part of the book took too little time to go into the details of what should have been an exciting part of the story.
Deborah
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series. There are over 20 books in this series and once i finish them, i start all over. it takes a couple of years to finish them all, but I love the Bro-mance between Jack Aubrey, ship captain, and Steve Maturin, ship surgeon. The Napoleanic wars is the best setting - French spies, wars, adventures in foreign waters. It is historical British Navy fiction of the highest caliber.
Josh
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A particularly brilliant installation in this series. O'Brian finally brings Aubrey and Maturin home from the Pacific, giving him a new range of adventures and plots to explore in the book. One of my favorites.
Deb
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. as always.
These characters feel like old friends.
Bill
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
My favorite of the past 3 or 4 volumes. I have 3 to go to finish the series.
Kirk
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of my favorites of the series, though with a too-short, 'blink and you'll miss it' battle ending.
BMK
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this one. Good mix of all the elements that makes these books great. Only 2 to go... :(
David Churbuck
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the better as O'Brian stretches his legs and begins to imbue Maturin with more color and philosophical richness.
Mark Bates
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jack Aubrey chasing slavers and battling the French...high sea adventures...great stuff.
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing Cover 2 14 Sep 21, 2015 06:36AM  
  • Hornblower and the Hotspur
  • A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
  • Ramage & the Freebooters (The Lord Ramage Novels, #3)
  • A Battle Won (Charles Hayden, #2)
  • H.M.S. Cockerel (Alan Lewrie, #6)
  • Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels
  • Mr. Midshipman Easy
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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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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

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“Other people's marriages are a perpetual source of amazement.” 29 likes
“Stephen had been put to sleep in his usual room, far from children and noise, away in that corner of the house which looked down to the orchard and the bowling-green, and in spite of his long absence it was so familiar to him that when he woke at about three he made his way to the window almost as quickly as if dawn had already broken, opened it and walked out onto the balcony. The moon had set: there was barely a star to be seen. The still air was delightfully fresh with falling dew, and a late nightingale, in an indifferent voice, was uttering a routine jug-jug far down in Jack's plantations; closer at hand and more agreeable by far, nightjars churred in the orchard, two of them, or perhaps three, the sound rising and falling, intertwining so that the source could not be made out for sure. There were few birds that he preferred to nightjars, but it was not they that had brought him out of bed: he stood leaning on the balcony rail and presently Jack Aubrey, in a summer-house by the bowling-green, began again, playing very gently in the darkness, improvising wholly for himself, dreaming away on his violin with a mastery that Stephen had never heard equalled, though they had played together for years and years.

Like many other sailors Jack Aubrey had long dreamed of lying in his warm bed all night long; yet although he could now do so with a clear conscience he often rose at unChristian hours, particularly if he were moved by strong emotion, and crept from his bedroom in a watch-coat, to walk about the house or into the stables or to pace the bowling-green. Sometimes he took his fiddle with him. He was in fact a better player than Stephen, and now that he was using his precious Guarnieri rather than a robust sea-going fiddle the difference was still more evident: but the Guarnieri did not account for the whole of it, nor anything like. Jack certainly concealed his excellence when they were playing together, keeping to Stephen's mediocre level: this had become perfectly clear when Stephen's hands were at last recovered from the thumb-screws and other implements applied by French counter-intelligence officers in Minorca; but on reflexion Stephen thought it had been the case much earlier, since quite apart from his delicacy at that period, Jack hated showing away.

Now, in the warm night, there was no one to be comforted, kept in countenance, no one could scorn him for virtuosity, and he could let himself go entirely; and as the grave and subtle music wound on and on, Stephen once more contemplated on the apparent contradiction between the big, cheerful, florid sea-officer whom most people liked on sight but who would have never been described as subtle or capable of subtlety by any one of them (except perhaps his surviving opponents in battle) and the intricate, reflective music he was now creating. So utterly unlike his limited vocabulary in words, at times verging upon the inarticulate.

'My hands have now regained the moderate ability they possessed before I was captured,' observed Maturin, 'but his have gone on to a point I never thought he could reach: his hands and his mind. I am amazed. In his own way he is the secret man of the world.”
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