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The Letter of Marque by Patrick O'Brian

The Letter of Marque (1988)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (12)

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Finally, Aubrey and Maturin have a stretch of (almost) unmitigated good luck. ( )
  sben | Feb 11, 2014 |
In the last volume of the wonderful Maturin/Aubrey series, Jack had been court-martialed for what appeared to be his complicity in a stock market fraud. Being a naïve landlubber, he had no idea of what he was being fraudulently involved in, thought he was just helping someone out and making a killing in the meantime. He was kicked out of the navy and removed from the post-captain’s list, eliminating all his accumulated seniority. Stephen, having come into a considerable fortune, purchased The Surprise, Jack’s old ship, and bought a letter of marque so Jack could operate as a legal privateer.

Having been sent on a special mission (remember that he is still an English secret agent), Stephen obtained a special exemption for the men of The Surprise to prevent them from being pressed into service should they be stopped by an English naval vessel. O'Brian really has a delightful way of writing. Here's another example of that wry humor that pervades his books. Russell is declaiming how all Frenchmen are worthless and uses as examples some French proverbial expressions, ". . .when the French wish to describe anything mighty foul they say, 'sal come un peigne', which gives you a pretty idea of their personal cleanliness. When they have other things to occupy their mind they say they have other cats to whip: a most inhuman thing to do [at least we beat dead horses] And when they are going to put a ship about, the order is 'a- Diue-va', or 'we must chance it and trust to God', which gives you some notion of their seamanship." One can only guess about O'Brian's early relationship with publishers, but from numerous comments made by a variety of characters, I suspect it was not a happy one: "You were telling me about publishers," asks Stephen of Mowett. “ ‘Yes , sir: I was about to say they were the most hellish procrastinators--' " 'Oh, how dreadful,' cried Fanny. 'Do they go to special houses, or do they . . .' " 'He means they delay,' said Babbington." O'Brian was a big fan of opium apparently, for Maturin is constantly singing its praises as a cure for all sorts of ills, and when queried about its ostensible addictive qualities, he replied in this book: "The objections come only from a few unhappy beings, Jansenists for the most part, who also condemn wine, agreeable food, music and the company of women: they even call out against coffee, for all love! Their objections are valid solely in the case of a few poor souls with feeble willpower, who would just as easily become the victims of intoxicating liquors, and who are practically moral imbeciles, often addicted to other forms of depravity; otherwise it is no more injurious than smoking tobacco." One learns all sorts of interesting things. Jack returns to his ship only to discover the word Seth written on the side.

The Sethians were a Gnostic Christian group who believed that Cain and Abel were brought into the world by angels, and that Seth, who was born after Abel’s murder, was the Almighty’s direct and pure creation. Anyway, there were pockets of Sethians scattered throughout England and, naturally, there were two schools of Sethians, the old that wrote the S backwards, and the new that wrote it in the conventional manner. Unlike Quakers, “they have no dislike for warfare,” so Jack has several Sethian sailors who celebrated recent good fortune by honoring Seth by painting his name on the side of the ship. When ordered to remove the name, they refused, not wishing to dishonor Seth. What makes this interesting is Jack’s novel way of making everyone happy. Rather clever, I thought. (Check out the Sethians on the web. They have a rather different perspective on the universe.) ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Another good one: politics, battles, conclusions to long-running plot-threads ... a delight as usual. ( )
  JBD1 | Jun 22, 2012 |
This is a satisfying book to read - after so many reverses, Jack and Stephen "come home". Jack, back to his naval list and finally to financial security - Stephen back to his beloved Diana. I especially enjoyed Stephen - learning to cope with newly found riches and obsessing over Diana. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Apr 16, 2011 |
Oh, these books are so good. This one, in particular, is very nearly as exciting and engrossing than the previous, which renders it pretty damned splendid indeed. I don't have time to write a longer review, as I must get on and read the next one... ( )
  gbsallery | Apr 24, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ever since Jack Aubrey had been dismissed from the service, ever since his name, with its now meaningless seniority, had been struck off the list of post-captains, it had seemed to him that he was living in a radically different world; everything was perfectly familiar, from the smell of seawater and tarred rigging to the gentle heave of the deck under his feet, but the essence was gone and he was a stranger.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393309053, Paperback)

When Jack Aubrey is unfairly deprived of his commission in the Royal Navy, Stephen Maturin comes to the rescue, purchasing the captain's former ship and outfitting it as a privateer, to be commanded by...Jack Aubrey. Soon the Surprise is off to sea, on a mission that Aubrey hopes will redeem his good name. The author's grasp of period detail is astonishing as ever--and so is his gift for pure entertainment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Jack Aubrey, a former sea-officer in the British Navy and still bitter about his court-martial, agrees to take command of his old ship, the Surprise, which was sold to Dr. Stephen Maturin, who obtained a letter of marque to the use the ship as a privateer.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393309053, 0393028747

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