Desolation Island (Aubrey-Maturin Series #5)

Desolation Island (Aubrey-Maturin Series #5)

by Patrick O'Brian


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"The relationship [between Aubrey and Maturin] about the best thing afloat....For Conradian power of description and sheer excitement there is nothing in naval fiction to beat the stern chase as the outgunned Leopard staggers through mountain waves in icy latitudes to escape the Dutch seventy-four." —Stephen Vaughan, Observer

Commissioned to rescue Governor Bligh of Bounty fame, Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and surgeon Stephen Maturin sail the Leopard to Australia with a hold full of convicts. Among them is a beautiful and dangerous spy—and a treacherous disease that decimates the crew. With a Dutch man-of-war to windward, the undermanned, outgunned Leopard sails for her life into the freezing waters of the Antarctic, where, in mountain seas, the Dutchman closes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393308129
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/28/1991
Series: Aubrey-Maturin Series , #5
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 71,290
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

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.

Date of Birth:

December 12, 1914

Date of Death:

January 2, 2000

Place of Birth:

Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire

Place of Death:

Dublin, Ireland


Shebbear College, Devon

What People are Saying About This

Robert Massie

I have been enthralled since reading Master and Commander. Now, having just finished Desolation Island, I find myself curiously anxious to slow down. True, nine volumes await me, but what I have read is so rich and splendid that I need to ponder and digest.

Keith Richards

I fell in love with his writing straightaway, at first with Master and Commander. It wasn’t primarily the Nelson and Napoleonic period, more the human relationships. …And of course having characters isolated in the middle of the goddamn sea gives more scope. …It’s about friendship, camaraderie. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin always remind me a bit of Mick and me.

A. S. Byatt

Gripping and vivid… a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit.

George Will

O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin volumes actually constitute a single 6,443-page novel, one that should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

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Desolation Island 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Jmberry More than 1 year ago
Patrick O'Brian outdoes himself in this sequential naval novel of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Steven Maturin. I started reading this series randomly. Then reread them sequentially. Historically and geographically accurate as well as imaginative and exciting fiction. This one really gets the adrenalin flowing... Can't put it down.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O'brian's life gives his work(s) a rare authenticity . Brilliant, indeed
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wasn't my favorite of the Aubrey/Maturin stories. O'Brian managed to put a great deal of excitement and tension into the Leopard's flight from the Waakzaamheid and the race to find shelter in the sinking ship. However, Maturin's counter-espionage games with Louisa Wogan and Michael Herapath didn't interest me as much.It's still an excellently-written naval adventure and I'm looking forward to The Fortune of War.
rameau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My new favorite in the series. It also has in the duel between the Leopard and the Waakzaamheid one of the greatest action scenes ever written.
wispywillow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know what--if anything--this book had that appealed to me that the others didn't quite have, but where I enjoyed the other books, I loved this one! And perhaps it has nothing to do with the book at all, but merely my own familiarization with the characters, period speech, and naval terminology. I also seemed to detect more inner monologue in this one than the others; the thoughts of Maturin and Aubrey are very interesting, especially when they begin to doubt themselves or are annoyed because a guest has been keeping them at the dinner table for much too long.Aubrey is more comfortable in his role as a father by now, though we only see a bit of that at the beginning. We get to see him really deal with some rough times on the ship, as well as hear his angry mutterings at having to have women aboard ^_^ And best of all, after a tense plot, it rounds off with Aubrey getting back into his lovable puns. The man cracks me up! Maturin is just as moody as ever, except for when he's dissecting some creature or another. He's made the first step in Opium Anonymous, though: He recognizes that he has a problem. :)Looking forward to the next book!
kren250 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fifth book in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and my favorite so far. I love the understated humor in these books, and all the detail the author adds. It really gives you a feel for the story, and the time it's set in.
lucybrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleaker than some of the earlier books, partly because of the setting, Desolation Island pits crew against nature and Mataurin against his heart.
mohi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fun entry in the Aubrey-Maturin adventures. Once again Aubrey finds himself escaping his land-locked problems to the sea. A bout of gaol fever, a tenacious enemy bent on hunting him down, and a beautiful American spy complicate matters.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The force of Jack's personality is at the forefront of this episode. The ending scenes where he copes with ship wreck, great storms, and personal injury are particularly moving. There is quite a bit of spycraft in this novel, which brings Stephen to the forefront. Also, the contrast between Jack on shore and Jack in a ship is profound. Great reading here.
bearpacker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Desolation Island? Desolation voyage is more like it, the island being the best thing that happens to Aubrey & co. on this voyage. In this episode O'Brian presents a great collection of what can possibly go really really wrong on a long voyage in a tall ship during war. A good counterbalance to some of his "lucky Jack" episodes! Found myself looking at the southern boundaries of an ocean map to see if I could find the island in question, or the one missed (Crozet was it?). O'Brian is great for bringing that time period to life, and conveying the type of challenges people undertook, both in sailing and understanding their world, that helped shape the world as we know it today.
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Gusboy More than 1 year ago
I own and have read at least twice the entire Aubrey-Maturin series of books in hard-bound editions. However, the collection was essential for my Nook, as well, so I'm enjoying them once again. Desolation Island is a particularly memorable book in the series. The description of the chase through the "Roaring Forties" by the much larger, heavier Dutch ship is thrilling in every respect. As always, Obrian's writing is superlative. I believe that most of his readers are male; however, as a female in my sixties, I cannot think of a writer whose books I would rather read, especially those about Captain Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. I highly, highly recommend.
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