"The best historical novels ever written."Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review Third in the series of Aubrey-Maturin adventures, this book is set among the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and in the distant waters ploughed by the ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. But somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams: the ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet...
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.
"A first-rate tale to see....I read it with absorbtion and satisfaction."
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.
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.
H.M.S. Surprise 4.4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This series is irresistible -- even for someone who knows nothing about the sea. To my astonishment, I read every single book in this series and was really sad when it was over -- 19 or 20 volumes later! O'Brien was not in fact a sailor himself, but you would never know it. He never condescends to his readers, just accepts them as part of his compelling fictional world, and as a result, we find ourselves right there with him. There is a huge amount of technical information in these books, and the chances you will understand it all are close to nil -- but somehow, the author has you so involved that you get the general idea of how to sail a serious 18th century ship anyway. His only discernible weakness is his female characters -- luckily, they are never on stage for very long. His male characters, however, are fully realized, maturing gradually from book to book, so that we get a real feeling for the arcs of their lives. A ship at sea is a world unto itself, with its own rules, environment, and unique set of circumstances. O'Brien's books are bizarrely like excellent science fiction novels, transporting you to a fascinating and utterly convincing alien time and place that you could never experience on your own.
More than 1 year ago
I found this third entry in the Aubrey-Marturin Series much more enjoyable that the second, "Post Captain." I do like more "action" in books, and found this one more on the scale of "Master and Commander."
I would give this advice to any who would choose to read this series, "Keep a good dictionary next to your reading table!" O'Brian seems to write with an assumption that all of his readers know naval nomenclature, not to mention Latin phrasiology.
The love story between Aubrey and Sophie carries well, and Maturin's tragic character is believable, as well as intriguing.
More than 1 year ago
The third installment of the Arbury-Maturin series, but probably the best. Really get to know the characters. The story in India is great.
More than 1 year ago
I love reading this book. It has got something for everyone. There is plenty to learn about ship during the Napoleanic Wars. My favorite character is Diana. She is like a tomboy who lives in India and she dresses like she's from India too. Diana is not the type of woman who would sit around and drink tea. She more likely to go exploring in the Indian jungles. She doesn't even care about what the other women say. I also realy admire Sophie Williams because she puts up with this monster who claims to be her mother. Sophie is not afraid to break her mother's rules especially when her mother is being ridiculous. I am starting to think that Patrick O'Brian thought that men and women were to be treated as equals and that is why he portrays women that way.
More than 1 year ago
The HMS Surprise is the best novel out of the Aubrey/Maturin series, by far! This book is packed with both scoial and seafaring drama, I had no inclination to put it down the entire time I was reading it. I highly recommend the series, though this book I must say is the best.
kcslade on LibraryThing
3 days ago
Another great Capt. Aubrey, Dr. Maturin novel.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing
3 days ago
There is plenty of action in this third installment-sea battles, rescues, duels, deaths... How much I like Jack! He's staightforward, loyal, and courageous. And how much Stephen suffers in this novel. I have to hope for better fortune in the next book.
lucybrown on LibraryThing
3 days ago
This may well be my favorite of the series which is saying something since I love this series.
ASBiskey on LibraryThing
9 days ago
I really enjoy Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. I have read and enjoyed many of them. I continue to fear I will become jaded "They sailed, they fought, same old, same old". However, I continue to find this series, and this book in particular, some of the best reading I have ever done. There is the sailing and the fighting, which does not grow dull, no matter how much I read. The range of emotions expressed by the characters continues to amaze. The range of experiences and the reactions are so brilliantly concieved and described. HMS Surprise in particular, and the series in general, are treasures worth reading.
duhrer on LibraryThing
3 months ago
My friend Sean Boles and another online friend with whom I play chess got me interested in Patrick O'Brien's series of novels involving the characters Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Although I have to admit that I don't consume the Aubrey-Maturin novels as regularly or with the same gusto as other books and authors I follow, I enjoyed "Surprise" quite a bit, just as I enjoyed the previous two in the series ("Master and Command", and "Post-Captain").I will again avoid spoiling the work for anyone who hasn't read it by describing particular details. The serial nature of the work makes it especially important to encounter the events in sequence. Instead, I will focus on the qualities of the writing that I find particularly appealing.I won't presume to be able to do better justice to the period authenticity or O'Brien's ability to portray the seagoing life, many other reviewers have commented on this, included the afterward in the particular edition of "Surprise" I picked up, which was written by Charles Heston himself. (As an aside, I wonder about his other reading tastes, in particular whether he read "I am Legend" before being presented with the script of and agreeing to portray the lead role in "Omega Man").What I admire so much about the series is O'Brien's ability to start with truly excellent characters and to continually give us a more intimate understanding of their lives, their growth, their interactions with each other. He also has a fine sense of detail, narrative, pacing, and is on the whole a great writer in every sense.Reading this work, I can't help but think of "Moby Dick", "Middle Passage", and any number of sea-going works (sadly few of which I've read). The Aubrey-Maturin series is written for a relatively modern ear, making it easier to parse than Melville. However, far from diluting the spirit of the age he describes, O'Brien's writing is believably rooted in the time and culture he describes, and does not engage in obvious revisionism by inserting overly modern characters and situations.I look forward to continuing to read the series, and would love to hear from others who enjoy the series.
parelle on LibraryThing
3 months ago
My recomendation to anyone starting on the Patrick O'Brian series is simple: wait at least three books. If you're not willing to give a twenty book (and then some) epic a good chance, then you won't finish it anyway. It's a rule which has helped me time and again in introducing unsuspecting friends to the wonders of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Even after reading the series, this is and remains my favorite Aubrey-Maturin book. It contains both highs and lows, some of the funniest moments, animal misadventures, and truly daring battles, but also the personal depth and emotion which defines this series and makes it greater than simply 'naval fiction'.
ursula on LibraryThing
4 months ago
The third entry in the Aubrey-Maturin series. This one finds the HMS Surprise on a run to India and back, crossing paths with a French fleet and an equally dangerous contender, Diana Villiers. I really enjoyed this book, and it had some of the funniest Jack/Stephen moments I've yet read.
A penetrating and powerful novel about the deep undercurrents of love and regret in one
Midwestern family.In 1939, Maggie Doud married Garfield Maguire. Now, fifty years on, she’s Margaret Maguire: a widow and a grandmother, unable to ignore the consequences ...
The inspiration for the major new motion picture starring Russell Crowe.The war of 1812 continues,
and Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission after his own heart: intercepting a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc ...
Fine stuff...[The Letter of Marque] leaves the devotee of naval fiction eager for sequels.Jonathan Yardley,
Washington Post Book WorldCaptain Jack Aubrey, a brilliant and experienced officer, has been struck off the list of post-captains for a crime he did not ...
Jack's assignment: to capture the Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius from the French.
That campaign forms the narrative thread of this rollicking sea saga. But its substance is more beguiling still...Elizabeth Peer, NewsweekCaptain Jack Aubrey is ashore on ...
A tale of love and conquest, full of page-turning situations...worthy of a García Lorca drama
(San Francisco Chronicle).A historical novel about the conquistador Cortés and the Aztec princess Malintzín, by a stunning (New York Times Book Review) writer. Night of ...
[The series shows] a joy in language that jumps from every page....You're in for a
wonderful voyage.Cutler Durkee, PeopleShipwrecked on a remote island in the Dutch East Indies, Captain Aubrey, surgeon and secret intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, and the crew ...
An overwhelming, outstanding novel...!Irish TimesCaptain Jack Aubrey, R. N., ashore after a successful cruise, is
persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make certain investments in the City. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government ...
O'Brian's richly told adventure saga, with its muscular prose, supple dialogue and engaging characters, packs
a nice old-school punch. Publishers WeeklyThis story begins where Patrick O'Brian's devoted fans would want it to, with a sloop in the South China Sea ...