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[14.10.04] As all readers of Blue at the Mizzen probably realised, it wasn't intended to be the last book about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. And it turns out that O'Brian was working on a novel when he died. The unfinished novel is published as The Final, Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey, containing both a facsimile of the manuscript and in a printed version. A must for the fan!

[05.04.04] The movie Master and Commander, based on a number of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, is released on DVD, in two different editions - Single Disc and Double Disc ("Collectors Edition"). Rumour has it that those who wait will live to buy further editions, with added material. The film, though, might remain the same - or will one also have a Director's Cut Edition?

Patrick O'Brian

Patrick O'Brian has written a number of books, and also translated many books from French to English. He is best known for his series of novels set in the early 19th century, during the Napoleonic Wars, featuring the naval officer Jack Aubrey and his friend and ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin. The books are full of action, set in historically correct context, with tons of naval lore and naval language. Don't expect to understand everything, unless you're a sailing expert - but you'll learn a lot!

Jack Aubrey, when we first meet him, is a very junior officer in the Royal Navy, getting his first command. Almost by accident he stumbles on Stephen Maturin, a stranded surgeon, and makes him his ship's surgeon. This is the start of a friendship that'll last for 20 novels. Both plot, characters, historic detail and factual details of life in the navy and on the seas make the novels good reads. And unlike many heroes, these two do fail and have faults, and they fall out with each other at times. Jack Aubrey is a large, strong and stubborn man, with quite a temper and an appetite on life - food, women and drink - but also a true leader of men. Stephen Maturin is more of an ascete, thin, a bit withdrawn, a loner, gifted with languages and scientific insights.

The novels should be read in "correct sequence" following the history as it unfolds, though each novel stands on its own.

If you are an Aubrey-Maturin fan with money to spare, signed or first editions of the books on BookFinder.com could be of interest.

The novels: (More info on some of the books)

The whole series can be bought in a hardcover edition set.

Both Jack and Stephen are amateur musicians, Jack plays the violin and Stephen the cello, and they enjoy playing together. Musical Evenings with the Captain and Musical Evenings with the Captain, Vol.2 are collections of music they played.

Useful reference works and companions to the novels are:

The first novels have recently been transformed into the movie "Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World" with Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Stephen Maturin. The Making of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World tells the story of the making of the movie.

A number of books have been written about O'Brian:

Among O'Brian's other books, The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore should be of special interest to the Aubrey-Maturin fan.

In The Golden Ocean, in 1740 Peter Palafox signs on as a midshipman on Commodore Anson's voyage to and across the South Sea. Peter Palafox seems to me to be some kind of forerunner to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. He starts out as a landlubber and ends up a real sailor. The expedition encounters heavy weather, illnesses, the Spanish navy andother misfortunes, but luck and cunning leaves them with victories and bullion. As in the Aubrey-Maturin series, the action is second to dialogue and daily life on board the vessel. Tha action predates Jack Aubrey by some 60 years, one still expects Jack to "pop in" every time you turn the page. Well-written, with an acute sense of the language and idioms of the period.

The Unknown Shore follows the ship Wager on the same expedition that we read about in The Golden Ocean. The central characters in this book are midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Toby, who works as a surgeon's mate but is really interested in exploring the fauna and flora of the new territories and oceans they visit - very like Stephen Maturin. Wager is an ill-fated ship, and is ship-wrecked on the Chilean coast. Much of the story is about their survival and their striving to escape back to civilization. Both climate and locals are dangerous and they must really strive in order to survive their ordeals.
This book is very much a companion to The Golden Ocean, Jack and Toby actually meet Peter Palafox (of The Golden Ocean) in this book. Both the storytelling and the turn of phrase makes this book another must for the Aubrey-Maturin fan, well-written and exciting as it is. And, clearly, this book points towards O'Brian's later novels, both in theme, characters and language.

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Master and Commander
Post Captain
HMS 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
The Reverse of the Medal
The Letter of Marque
The Thirteen-Gun Salute
The Nutmeg of Consolation
Clarissa Oakes
The Wine-Dark Sea
The Commodore
The Yellow Admiral
The Hundred Days
Blue at the Mizzen
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