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The Ionian Mission (1981)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (8)

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2,380264,453 (4.11)40
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, veterans now of many battles, return in this novel to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. But Jack is now a senior captain commanding a line-of-battle ship in the Royal Navy's blockade of Toulon, and this is a longer, harder, colder war than the dashing frigate actions of his early days. A sudden turn of events takes him and Stephen off on a hazardous mission to the Greek Islands, where all his old skills of seamanship and his proverbial luck when fighting against odds come triumphantly into their own.… (more)
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English (24)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Book number eight in O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, featuring action on the high seas during the Napoleonic Wars.

Although there is less action in this one than usual. Indeed, for much of the novel, there is incident after incident of utterly failing to engage with the enemy for one reason or another. You'd think this might be dull, but I found this one as pleasantly readable as any of them. And you'd think it would be frustrating, which is actually is, but it's frustrating the way I believe it's meant to be, as you vividly experience the characters' desire for battle and success along with them.

And, of course, there is O'Brian's usual low-key humor scattered throughout it all to make it much more fun, no matter what is or isn't going on, plot-wise. ( )
  bragan | Apr 22, 2020 |
O'Brian is as excellent as ever. Rich characterisation, evocative prose, an intriguing plot which balances action with realism. Superb ( )
  malcrf | Mar 16, 2020 |
The Ionian Mission, Patrick O’Brian’s eighth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, sees Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin working on blockade duty around Toulon, France aboard the HMS Worcester. Much of the plot involves the prolonged sense of being outside the normal flow of time that accompanies blockade duty, with Aubrey struggling to find his usual zeal, the crew composing poems and practicing Hamlet for a way to break up the monotony, and Stephen intermittently engaging in some intelligence work, though he limits his activities due to his no longer being unattached (having married Diana Villers at the end of the previous novel) and his loss of cover (also in the previous novel). Jack must likewise attempt to balance his political obligations to Admiral Thornton, commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet and an old role model to Jack, with Thornton’s underline, Read Admiral Harte, who dislikes Jack based on past bad blood. Add to this Jack’s sense of obligation to his first lieutenant, Tom Pullings, who needs a successful action if he’s to have a chance of advancing to master, and our protagonists find themselves in an uncertain situation.

Of particular note is the return of the HMS Surprise, Jack’s favorite ship, second only to the Sophie, his first command. Jack is tasked with control of the Surprise to negotiate with the various Turkish authorities in order to determine who will best aid England in harrying French shipping in the Ionian Sea. Like his previous novels, O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic War in 1812, this time focusing on much of the careful negotiations between England and other European, Asian, and Arabian powers that enabled their eventual victory. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes. A great contribution to the Aubrey-Maturin series and the second of twelve to focus on what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these dozen books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Sep 14, 2018 |
The Ionian Mission, book eight of twenty, is maybe the first real spell of doldrums in this rich, ever-rewarding saga; and even its relatively uneventful story is still rich with authenticity, and brimming with dry wit, facetiousness and farce (poor Dr. Maturin still comically uncomfortable with sea life). The prose is pleasing as ever, and Lucky Jack & Stephen's conversations, musical or otherwise, are engrossing and relatable. This is no 'Desolation Island', but it is still extremely good and comforting.

The book starts strong with charming account of Stephen and Diana's curious married and social lives, and transitions hilariously to Stephen's most undignified arrival yet on Jack's latest command (the maligned 'Worcester'). O'Brian's pacing is very brisk and never, ever in danger of sagging, despite the voyage's singularly idle nature. The endless Toulon blockade, Stephen's ill-fated intelligence rendezvous, and tedious diplomacy with the Turks tread water narratively, placing on our favorite characters a new kind of trial - these action-primed veterans are perpetually blueballed for real warfare. Everything pays off however, in a thrilling ship battle as satisfying as any O'Brian has written. As always, I finished the book with a great excitement to begin the next. ( )
2 vote ddueck88 | Oct 13, 2017 |
As much as I admire and enjoy the works of POB, I must confess that this volume of the Aubrey-Maturin was a painfully boring read. Perhaps the author intended to bore the reader, just as Captain Jack Aubrey was bored with this installment's setting, which begins with his ship on blockade duty off Toulon. Adding to a fan's frustration, the interaction between Aubrey and Maturin is limited and shallow. Sure, this book includes the usual rich gallery of colorful secondary characters who enter and leave at various points over the course of the story, but they just didn't hold my attention because the plot was so thin. The story seems to meander about without much action and no sea battles until the very end of the novel. Patrick O'Brien was a supremely gifted writer and a very good story teller, but this is not an effort equal to his other works. ( )
  Richard7920 | Jul 24, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Marriage was once represented as a field of battle rather than a bed of roses, and perhaps there are some who may still support this view; but just as Dr Maturin had made a far more unsuitable match than most, so he set about dealing with the situation in a far more compendious, peaceable and efficacious way than the great majority of husbands.
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Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, veterans now of many battles, return in this novel to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. But Jack is now a senior captain commanding a line-of-battle ship in the Royal Navy's blockade of Toulon, and this is a longer, harder, colder war than the dashing frigate actions of his early days. A sudden turn of events takes him and Stephen off on a hazardous mission to the Greek Islands, where all his old skills of seamanship and his proverbial luck when fighting against odds come triumphantly into their own.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393308219, 0393037088

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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