The Unknown Shore

The Unknown Shore

3.8 5
by Patrick O'Brian
     
 

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An immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, displaying all the splendid prose and attention to detail that O'Brian's readers expect.

Patrick O'Brian's first novel about the sea, The Golden Ocean, took inspiration from Commodore George Anson's fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In The Unknown Shore,

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Overview

An immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, displaying all the splendid prose and attention to detail that O'Brian's readers expect.

Patrick O'Brian's first novel about the sea, The Golden Ocean, took inspiration from Commodore George Anson's fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In The Unknown Shore, O'Brian returns to this rich source and mines it brilliantly for another, quite different tale of exploration and adventure.

The Wager was parted from Anson's squadron in the fierce storms off Cape Horn and struggled alone up the coast of Chile until she was driven against the rocks and sank. The survivors were soon involved in trouble of every kind. A surplus of rum, a disappearing stock of food, and a hard, detested captain soon drove them into drunkenness, mutiny, and bloodshed. After many months of privation, a handful of men made their way northward under the guidance of a band of Indians, at last finding safety in Valparaiso.

This saga of survival is the background to the adventures of two young men aboard the Wager: midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon's mate. Patrick O'Brian's many devoted readers will take particular interest in this story, as Jack and Toby form a kind of blueprint for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the famed heroes of the great Aubrey/Maturin series to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Rich Nicholls

I suspect that there are few now living who know as much about the 18th century as Patrick O'Brian. I know of none who can write about the period with his vigor and authority. In the 17 novels thus far published in his Aubrey/Maturin series, following the adventures of a Captain in the Royal Navy and his best friend, a sardonic ship's surgeon, during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian has summoned up an entire world, peopled it with a motley, ingenious cast and set out to reveal, through their varied adventures, a great deal about the ideas, habits, hopes and fears of another time.

The Unknown Shore, first published in 1959, seems in many ways like a rehearsal for the later series. It features two protagonists who are clearly ancestors of Capt. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin: Midshipman Jack Byron, ebullient, kind-hearted, anxious for action, and surgeon's mate Tobias Barrow, somber, intelligent, with an overwhelming curiosity about the natural world. The two meet on board the Wager, part of a British fleet setting out in 1740 to circumnavigate the globe. The Wager makes it no farther than the coast of South America, where she founders after a storm. A mutiny follows, and Byron and Barrow find themselves among the officers abandoned on a harsh stretch of coastline, far from home or help. A series of remarkable, but believable, adventures follow.

Perhaps the greatest surprise about this book is that O'Brian had already hit his stride as a stylist 36 years ago. One of the most distinctive features of the Aubrey/Maturin series is O'Brian's precise, beautifully cadenced prose, reminiscent of the 18th century without ever sounding quaint.
Salon

Tamar Lewin
Here's an unexpected bonus: a precursor to the Aubrey-Maturin series...with all the charm of the author's mature works. And for those that have been daunted by the prospect of embarking on a seventeen volume series, here is the perfect way to test the waters...it has the elements that mark Mr. O'Brian's most recent works: a wealth of social detail, a quiet humor, the harrowing fearing shipwrecks, the swashbuckling adventures in foreign parts....the cozy, well-lighted 20-century home, (Jack and Toby's) travails could not be more delightfull to contemplate.
The New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
“Here is an unexpected bonus: a precursor to the Aubrey/Maturin series...with all the charm of the author's mature works. And for those who have been daunted by the prospect of embarking on a 17-volume series, here is the perfect way to test the waters...It has the same elements that mark Mr. O'Brian's more recent works: the wealth of social detail, the quiet humor, the harrowing shipwrecks, the swashbuckling adventures in foreign parts... .From a cozy, well-lighted 20th century home, [Jack and Toby's] travails could not be more delightful to contemplate.”
E. O. Wilson - Boston Globe
“I haven’t read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O’Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn’t stop.”
Stephen Becker
“Immediately and unmistakably O'Brian, with humor both slapstick and subtle, the sea implacably neutral, and his heroes bold rough sketches of Aubrey and Maturin. This and The Golden Ocean are fine forerunners of the grand series, and meeting them now is like being suddenly young again.”
Tamar Lewin - New York Times Book Review
“Here is an unexpected bonus: a precursor to the Aubrey/Maturin series...with all the charm of the author's mature works. And for those who have been daunted by the prospect of embarking on a 17-volume series, here is the perfect way to test the waters...It has the same elements that mark Mr. O'Brian's more recent works: the wealth of social detail, the quiet humor, the harrowing shipwrecks, the swashbuckling adventures in foreign parts.... From a cozy, well-lighted 20th century home, [Jack and Toby's] travails could not be more delightful to contemplate.”
Boston Globe
I haven’t read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O’Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn’t stop.— E. O. Wilson

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393344424
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/21/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
403,373
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Stephen Becker
Immediately and unmistakably O'Brian, with humor both slapstick and subtle, the sea implacably neutral, and his heroes bold rough sketches of Aubrey and Maturin. This and The Golden Ocean are fine forerunners of the grand series, and meeting them now is like being suddenly young again.

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