Customer Reviews for

Master and Commander (Aubrey-Maturin Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Fantastic book

While I understand and (to a limited extent) sympathize with some of the negative ratings this book has received, this is fast becoming my favorite series and I'm only on Book 7(?) The Surgeon's Mate.

There were occasional stretches of narrative that I only dimly und...
While I understand and (to a limited extent) sympathize with some of the negative ratings this book has received, this is fast becoming my favorite series and I'm only on Book 7(?) The Surgeon's Mate.

There were occasional stretches of narrative that I only dimly understood, filled with 18th Century nautical terminology like "leeward", "close-hauled", etc. Some of this I am only now beginning to grasp, some I'm still clueless on. I simply read it through as best I could, happy for those who did understand it. Knowing all the fine points of sailing that O'Brien mentions undoubtedly enriches the reading experience, but it is by no means necessary. Three pages of text can either have you running to a dictionary, Google, etc. etc. every other word in frustration as one of the previous reviewers mentioned, or you can just plow through it to get the gist - something like "After a day-long chase, Aubrey was able to bring the French ship to battle by his ingenious method of cross-bracing."

The point is, the rest of the novel is so astoundingly good that to get hung up on not being able to follow all the nautical minutiae and jargon of the period is to miss the forest for the tree (lack of plural intentional). Each book seems better than the last, but I'm not sure if that's due to the books getting better, my being able to appreciate each one more, or some combination of both.

There is a reason that this series has been given such effusive praise, and it's not because those lauding it take delight in luring in and vexing unsuspecting readers: It's just that good.

posted by J_Thomason on June 12, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Not Bad

I enjoyed this novel, though not as much as Forester's Hornblower ones. Between Aubrey and Hornoblower the latter is more open to the reader. He is more thoughtful and human, possessing sentiments, worries, and confusions that one easily empathizes with. He is a deep...
I enjoyed this novel, though not as much as Forester's Hornblower ones. Between Aubrey and Hornoblower the latter is more open to the reader. He is more thoughtful and human, possessing sentiments, worries, and confusions that one easily empathizes with. He is a deeply sympathetic character, a little bit more so than the braggadicio and excessive volubility of Aubrey.

Especially enjoyable in this work was the character of Dr. Maturin, whose blanket ignorance of all things nautical and his starkly different personality from Aubrey's place him in the position of representing the reader in the plot.

posted by GeoffSmock on January 18, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2008

    Not blown away

    There is something to be said for an author who understands that while 75% of the globe is water, only 10% of the Earth's population has ever sailed on it. In other words, trying to at least make an attempt to bring people into a read by lowering the hurdles they have to face in ship terminology, 18th century lingo and history (somewhere at the end of this book there should be a treatise on how one should tie a sheep shank knot). If you want a good read, but want to skip over every other arcane spelling and odd phrase (perhaps a well placed asterisk and corresponding notation of what a word meant would not be out of place here) then this is the book for you. I like the quirky characters, but it took me until after the first third of the book that I was able to generally follow what was going on. There's no doubt that the author put in the time needed for research, (rich details indeed) but his dedication to putting every single detail possible into one passage slowed the plot down to a plod. At various times the dialog read as if the characters were doing serious readings from a Monty Python script or had a mouthful of novacaine. I'm sorry, I really looked forward to reading this book. But for me, this is one occasion where the screen writer of a film cut to the chase and mined the original text creating something better. Get the DVD and try something else. And I thought I'd never say that.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    slow - way to much detail

    sailing 101 - cannot relate to the level of detail. no plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2004

    An annotated edition is needed

    I didn't even get as far as Chapter Three. The arcane nautical and military terminology was so daunting that the story and characters (admittedly very interesting) were no match for the chore of wading through the unknown words. Someone should do the potential readers a favour and do an annotated version (it works for Shakespeare).

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2003

    Disappointment

    I had looked forward to this book with great anticipation. I have been reading the 'Richard Shape' series by Bernard Cornwell and Mr.Cornwell has frequently been described as the 'heir to Patrick O'Brien'. This may be a true statement but I would never have arrived at this conclusion on my own. This book begins slowly and stays that way. I am currently on page #200, the beginning of Chapter #6 and I am about ready to give it all up. The publishers comments state...'...Aubrey and his crew engage in one thrilling battle after another,....' If this is true, it's not something that has happened yet. I have trudged through one boring encounter after another...As has been written elsewhere by another reviewer,a constant recounting of knots, sails spars etc..and boring conversation in taverns and officers mess. Although I am a constant and quite competant reader I found myself constantly turning to a dictionary for help in defining the endless sailing terms, often having to resort to the internet when dictionary definitions were not found. I don't often come upon books that I abandon before completion, but this one, I'm afraid, falls into this category.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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