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Blue at the Mizzen (1999)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (20)

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2,054205,502 (4.12)46
Napoleon has been defeated at Waterloo, but the ensuing peace becomes ugly for Captain Jack Aubrey, with violent celebrations of the English sailors in Gibraltar and the desertion of nearly half his crew. To cap it all off, the Surprise is nearly sunk in a shattering night collision on the first leg of her journey to South America, where Jack and Stephen are to help Chile assert her independence from Spain. The delay for repairs reaps a harvest of strange consequences, and then the South American expedition is a desperate affair, starting with near disaster in the ice-choked seas far south of the Horn. In the end, Jack, again the daring frigate commander of old, stakes all on a desperate solo night raid against the might of the Spanish viceroy in Peru.… (more)

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English (18)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
So here ends the Aubrey-Maturin epic saga, though a further book was left incomplete at the time of O'Brian's death. It's a good thing, really. The struggle to find anything original for the pair to do, growing ever more difficult since as far back as book 10, had by this point proved impossible. With the Napoleonic Wars over, reasons for further voyages were also getting contrived. Maturin's drug abuse with no real consequence was getting a little preposterous. Hence ending on the upbeat note of Aubrey finally gaining his Admiral's flag and sailing off to take up command of a squadron on a ship-of-the-line seems the perfect conclusion. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Blue at the Mizzen, Patrick O’Brian’s twentieth and final complete book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Hundred Days, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin embarking on their mission to Chile that was laid out during The Yellow Admiral, but briefly interrupted by Napoleon’s final attempt to reclaim power. A collision with a Nordic timber ship further delays Surprise, forcing her to undergo temporary repairs in the hopes of reaching Funchal for more lasting work, only the crew finds the Funchal shipyard aflame. Maturin receives word that the Chilean independence movement has factionalized, so he boards Ringle in order to hasten to London to consult with Sir Joseph Blaine. There, he looks in on his daughter, Brigid, and Jack’s family at Woolcombe, learning that Surprise has returned for repairs. In London, the Duke of Clarence asks Jack to take Horatio Hanson aboard as a midshipman and Jack, though initially reluctant, finds that the boy is a prodigious mathematical talent and accepts him. With the Surprise repaired, the ship and crew head for Chile, picking up Dr. Amos Jacob in Funchal and stopping in Freetown, Sierra Leone to resupply and for Dr. Maturin to propose marriage to Christine Wood, a widow of his acquaintance. Having had an unhappy prior marriage, she turns him down, but plans to visit England and offers Stephen hope for the future.

In Chile, Jack finds conflicting orders, but works to aid the local juntas, in particular the Supreme Director, General Bernardo O’Higgins, and Colonel Eduardo Valdes, a cousin of Maturin’s. Maturin and Dr. Jacob learn that the Peruvian forces, loyal to the Spanish king, plan to invade Chile, so they confront them at Valdivia, bombarding a fort and seizing gold, silver, and other supplies. Despite the success, local sentiment turns against the British to the point that the junta plans to impound Surprise, so Aubrey makes a plan to cut out the Peruvian frigate Esmeralda, strengthen the Chilean navy, and thereby build up goodwill. The plan works, though Aubrey is wounded. As he recovers, Stephen and Dr. Jacob send word to Sir Joseph while Ringle brings the news to Valparaiso. Despite much celebration, Aubrey insists that his sailors must be paid or depart, and Don Miguel Carrera, the president of the Valparasio junta, authorizes the first of the funds. Aubrey begins training the Chilean navy as Surprise surveys the coast, while orders arrive for Aubrey to repair to HMS Implacable in the River Plate, take command of the South African squadron, and hoist his pennant as Rear Admiral of the Blue. Carrera states that it will take longer to complete the payments, so Aubrey respectfully departs Chile and accepts his long-sought promotion.

Blue at the Mizzen has all the character moments fans of this series have come to love, with Horatio Hanson being a fine addition to the crew. Stephen’s time with Christine Wood offers some moments of joy following his sorrow in the previous novel. Like The Yellow Admiral and The Hundred Days, O’Brian discusses the effects of changing land policy, specifically enclosure, and how the war’s end impacts not just sailors and soldiers, but every level of the British economy that had been on a war-footing for two decades. Though O’Brian did not intend this as his final novel, its publication a mere two months before his death made it so. As such, it will bring fans joy with the promise of happiness for the two characters that have led the series over its twenty novels. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes and an endpaper map centered on the Atlantic Ocean, with several labeled cities from throughout the series and an inset of the tip of South America. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Apr 9, 2020 |
The Surprise had been a man-of-war vessel. It's newest assignment as a research vessel was a hydrographical assessment. Captain Jack Aubrey has been charged with conducting a survey of Magellan's Strait, the Horn, and the Chile coast. Additionally, Aubrey agreed to help Chile assert its independence from Spain. Aubrey just can't stay away from a good political conflict and his decision has its consequences.
Blue at the Mizzen focuses a little more on the personal lives of Jack Aubrey and especially Doctor Stephen Maturin, which was a pleasant surprise. Jack's brief romance with a married woman, his cousin Isobel was short lived, but Maturin's was a little more substantial. As a widower, he travels to Africa where his birding adventure with fellow bird enthusiast Christine sparks a romance. While his proposal goes unaccepted in the heat of the moment, he continues to write to her from sea and his letters become a diary of sorts (extremely helpful with the narrative).
Of course O'Brian adds plenty of swashbuckling drama as well as international intrigue to his plot besides romance.
  SeriousGrace | Jun 20, 2019 |
audible.com Edition read by Patrick Tull.
  StephenMZumbo | Apr 2, 2018 |
Nel blu dipinto di blu

Non può annoiare un libro simile. Io guardo il mare continuamente, ogni singola onda, le sue crestine quando il vento ci soffia sopra con determinazione, il colore che cambia dal mattino al tramonto o si incupisce sotto una nuvola scura... e non me ne stanco mai. Prima o poi doveva mettersi un punto alle avventure della Surprise, tutto ha una fine, ma stancarsi, quello no. Che lo legga a terra, nel mio letto, addormentandomi fra un avvistamento di nave nemica e una lettera scritta dal medico di bordo, o quando sono in barca a veleggiare verso il tramonto con gli amici, è una promessa di avvicinamento a quel mare che non posso toccare o una suggestione amplificata dal rollìo che accompagna la lettura. Per chi si porta il mare dentro, sempre... per chi soffre e si inquieta quando troppi giorni sono messi fra il ricordo e la sete inestinguibile. ( )
  Magrathea | Dec 30, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Antón, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herbulot, FlorenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kann, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I dedicate this book, donum indignum,
to the Provost and to all those many people
who were so kind to me while I was
writing it in Trinity College, Dublin

"donum indignum" roughly means unworthy gift
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The Surprise, lying well out in the channel with Gibraltar half a mile away on her starboard quarter, lying at a single anchor with her head to the freshening north-west breeze, piped all hands at four bells in the afternoon watch; and at the cheerful sound her tender Ringle, detached once more on a private errand by Lord Keith, cheered with the utmost good will, while the Surprises turned out with a wonderful readiness, laughing, beaming and thumping one another on the back in spite of a strong promise of rain and a heavy sea running already.
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Napoleon has been defeated at Waterloo, but the ensuing peace becomes ugly for Captain Jack Aubrey, with violent celebrations of the English sailors in Gibraltar and the desertion of nearly half his crew. To cap it all off, the Surprise is nearly sunk in a shattering night collision on the first leg of her journey to South America, where Jack and Stephen are to help Chile assert her independence from Spain. The delay for repairs reaps a harvest of strange consequences, and then the South American expedition is a desperate affair, starting with near disaster in the ice-choked seas far south of the Horn. In the end, Jack, again the daring frigate commander of old, stakes all on a desperate solo night raid against the might of the Spanish viceroy in Peru.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 039332107X, 0393048446

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