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The Commodore (1994)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (17)

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2,112185,299 (4.16)36
Having survived a long, desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it's disastrous. His little daughter appears to be autistic, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared, with the child looked after by the widowed Clarissa Oakes. Much of the story takes place on land, but soon Aubrey and Maturin are sent on a mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland, where the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness. The climax of the story is one of those grand, thrilling fleet actions on which the British Navy's supremacy was founded.… (more)
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» See also 36 mentions

English (16)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Having circum-navigated the globe, Aubrey and Maturin have an interlude back in England before setting off to fight the slave-trade off the coast of Africa. These interludes are the weakest parts of this saga, for me; I just get a bit bored quite quickly. But soon enough we're back at sea with Aubrey in command of a small fleet for the second time and then matters fairly whizz along, like a ship clapping on sail, right up to the sky-scrapers. The problems of fleet command present new challenges for Aubrey and Maturin faces new and old family challenges.

A pleasant, competent entry into this series, neither the worst nor the best - and only three more to go! ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
The Commodore, Patrick O’Brian’s seventeenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Wine-Dark Sea, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin aboard the Surprise finally returning home to England. Though they had been looking forward to home, they find things changed in their absence. Stephen’s wife, Diana, has given birth to their daughter Brigid, but the girl appears to have developmental disabilities. This triggers a depressive episode in Diana, who goes to visit family, leaving the child in the care of Clarissa Oakes. Jack, for his part, becomes jealous of the time his wife Sophie spends visiting the local priest, Mr. Hinksey, while Sophie becomes jealous of Clarissa Oakes after seeing that he gave both women a similar bolt of silk. Before things can get much worse, he must depart to head a squadron going to the African coast in order to disrupt the slave trade. Along the way, Stephen hides Clarissa Oakes and his assistant Padeen in Spain, along with his daughter, since the pardons he had expected for both are being delayed by a royal with connections to France.

The majority of the novel focuses on events off the African coast, where Jack and Stephen, both morally opposed to slavery, encounter the conditions on slave ships for the first time. Their orders were to disrupt the trade as loudly as possible, both to make an example, and in order that their secret plans to attack a French and American convoy heading to Ireland to arm the locals against the English will go unnoticed by French intelligence. O’Brian contrasts this with the other time Aubrey was part of a squadron, in The Ionian Mission. Like that work, having a number of ships at sea together makes it possible to tell a character-driven story against a backdrop similar to a small town, with various temperaments and conflicts. Unlike The Ionian Mission, in which the squadron was on blockade duty, here they have missions taking them around the coast of West Africa and back to Ireland, so there is more action for the characters and for the reader.

Like the previous ten novels, The Commodore exists outside the normal flow of time – this novel being the eleventh and final book to exist in what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. Further, this concludes the circumnavigation of the globe that began in The Thirteen Gun Salute. Those looking for a perfect chronology are advised to simply enjoy the story and the way in which O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic Wars, using Aubrey and Stephen’s activities to comment on the rapid changes occurring in this era and the passage of time in the series’ internal chronology. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Mar 13, 2020 |
One of my favorite installments so far in this series. Such a pleasure to read. ( )
  GratzFamily | May 30, 2019 |
If you loved the movie Master and Commander you will love any of Patrick O'Brian's books. I am amazed at how he weaves his encyclopedic knowledge of biology, botany, seamanship, sailing, geography, history, politics, and more into stories of intrigue, romance, drama, and of course stories of the sea. His descriptions of the ships, the geography and the people involved are colorful and in short order you will find yourself swaying in your hammock feeling the salt spray coming over the bow. ( )
  bjtimm | Nov 8, 2016 |
Maturin and Aubrey return home to their families (Maturin finally meets his daughter!) and then go off adventuring again. Aubrey is given command of a whole fleet of ships, and his joy in the promotion is a delight to read. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Brian, Patrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antón Rodríguez, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardy, RobertReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCallum, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, GrahamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wannenmacher, JuttaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Having survived a long, desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it's disastrous. His little daughter appears to be autistic, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared, with the child looked after by the widowed Clarissa Oakes. Much of the story takes place on land, but soon Aubrey and Maturin are sent on a mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland, where the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness. The climax of the story is one of those grand, thrilling fleet actions on which the British Navy's supremacy was founded.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393314596, 0393037606

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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