Jennifer's Reviews > The Mauritius Command

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian
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Sep 12, 2011

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Read from September 12 to 29, 2011

It strikes me as blackly amusing that the end of each Regency romance book--the happy clinch and fade to implied domestic bliss--leads directly to the opening of so many Age of Sail books--the hero chafing at the domestic life and yearning to escape and be at sea again.

Jack Aubrey is a commodore in this story, which means he is in charge of leading several different ships. Much of the book is dedicated to the interpersonal difficulties dealing with disparate prickly, sensitive, or craven personalities presents, and a major theme of the book could be that battles are won and lost in part due to mismatched personalities or personal grudges rather than brilliant strategy or force of arms. Frustratingly, one of the major secondary characters remains a complex cipher throughout--almost painfully realistic and ultimately unknowable.

Also frustrating is that the inability of Stephen and Jack to truly understand each other, played for affectionate laughs early in the series, becomes sometimes excruciating as good-hearted and straightforward Jack is incapable of seeing what the reader sees: that Stephen's melancholy in the last book has settled into a deep depression that remains unresolved at the end of the book. All in all, this is an unsettlingly sad read. But I've come to care about Jack and Stephen so much that there's no turning my back on the series.
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message 1: by Mark (new)

Mark Great review--that opening observation is great (and reminds me a little of Tennyson's "Ulysses"). I have the whole series waiting to be read; I'm afraid to start because I've been warned how addictive they are...


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