The Unknown Shore

( 5 )

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 ...

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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

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.”
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
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
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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393315387
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 313
  • Sales rank: 639,473
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick O'Brian

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 Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

Biography

In addition to the twenty volumes of the highly-respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many novels include Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. Born in 1914, he passed away in January 2000.

Patrick O'Brian was one of the great authors of the twentieth century, whose novels were often compared by critics to the work of Jane Austen and even Homer. A writer of breathtaking erudition, Mr. O'Brian evoked in complete and dazzling detail an entire world -- that of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. In addition to formidable scholarship, Mr. O'Brian brought to his work keen psychological insights, a sharp wit, and fast-paced, heart-stopping action.

In a cover story in The New York Times Book Review published on January 6, 1991, nine years to the day before Mr. O'Brian's death, Richard Snow wrote that Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin naval adventure novels are "the best historical novels ever written. On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives." In a Washington Post article published August 2, 1992, Ken Ringle wrote, "The Aubrey/Maturin series far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart."

W.W. Norton & Company began publishing Patrick O'Brian's books in 1990. The previous year, Norton's editor-in-chief, Starling Lawrence, had read The Reverse of the Medal on a trans-Atlantic flight, fallen hard for the series, and had become convinced that Norton ought to publish Mr. O'Brian's works in the U.S. Norton decided to publish each new book in hardcover as it was completed and to bring out the earlier books in the series in paperback until they had caught up. The first season, Norton published The Letter of Marque (# 12) in hardcover and Master and Commander (# 1) and Post Captain (# 2) in paperback. Most recently, Norton published Blue at the Mizzen (# 20) in hardcover in 1999 and in paperback in 2000. At present, Norton has all of the books in the series available in uniform hardcover and paperback editions.

In addition to the twenty books in the Aubrey/Maturin series, Norton has published a short story collection (The Rendezvous and Other Stories) and three of Mr. O'Brian's other novels: Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. In April of 2000, Norton published Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard, his very first book, begun when he was just twelve, and Hussein: An Entertainment, written when he was about twenty years old. Both of these books had long been out of print.

Starting in the early 1990s, Mr. O'Brian achieved, at long last, the critical and popular recognition that was his due. All of his new books published since 1993 have appeared on national bestseller charts, and his books have sold well over three million copies in the U.S. alone.

Mr. O'Brian once said, "Obviously, I have lived very much out of the world: I know little of present-day Dublin or London or Paris, even less of post-modernity, post-structuralism, hard rock or rap, and I cannot write with much conviction about the contemporary scene." [Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography, edited by Arthur Cunningham]. In fact, Mr. O'Brian often seemed to have walked out of another era, and in his interactions with his publisher, he displayed a level of courtesy and civility rarely seen in our times.

Author biography courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Patrick Russ
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 12, 1914
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire
    1. Date of Death:
      January 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Dublin, Ireland

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2000

    Five stars ... plus

    Jack and Toby: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in ye merrie olde England. Great! When you've finished this, go on to the follow-up Aubrey/Maturin series, without a doubt the best written seafaring tales in all of literature. Farewell, Patrick O'Brian. Mr. O'Brian died in January at age 85, leaving behind a legacy unmatched by few contemporary writers in the English language.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    Talonkit

    He watches his sister leave, feeling miserable. He then turns around and pads deeper into the forest. 'Is being a Medicine Cat so wrong?' He thought. He shook his head, "I guess it is.." He mumbled. He then ran off to a different result. -TK-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    Mistykit

    I look at him, then instantly feel horrible for bringing him down. 'What kind of sister am I?' I think to myself. "Look, Talonkit, if you want to be a medicine cat apprentice, fine. It's not my choice. It's yours," l mew curtly. 'Why can't I be nice?' I think bitterly. I back out into the forest, then dash away.+Mistykit

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A nice OBrian for the fans

    A good story, a little extensive on the Chilenean natural history and geography part. Not really a nautical story, at least not at all similar to the ones to follow. A typical OBrian style though and a good plot after all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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