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The Mauritius command by Patrick O'Brian
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The Mauritius command (original 1977; edition 2009)

by Patrick O'Brian, Neil Gower (Illustrator)

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2,677392,217 (4.12)41
Member:elenchus
Title:The Mauritius command
Authors:Patrick O'Brian
Other authors:Neil Gower (Illustrator)
Info:London : Folio Society, 2009.
Collections:Your library, Folio Society
Rating:****
Tags:2012-04, nautical, FIC

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The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian (1977)

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
The Mauritius Command, fourth book in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, follows Captain Jack Aubrey as he and Stephen embark on a mission to retake islands off Mauritius and install a royal governor. Along the way, Admiral Bertie promotes Aubrey to commodore of the fleet, which offers insight into a different side of battles during the Napoleonic Wars, but also removes Aubrey from much of the immediate conflict, as he must oversee the entire fleet action. O'Brian's mastery of history is also on display here, as he begins the novel with a note: "In this case, the groundwork of the tale, a little-known campaign in the Indian Ocean, is factual...Apart from the necessary fictions at the beginning and the very end, he [the author] has not done anything to neaten history except for the omission of a few confusing, unimportant ships whose fleeting presence was neither here nor there." In that regard, The Mauritius Command is a resounding success and a wonderful addition to the Aubrey-Maturin series. This Folio Society edition, like the others in the series, includes illustrations from the period that portray events similar to those O'Brian describes in his narrative and the book itself makes a gorgeous addition to any bookshelf. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Aug 19, 2016 |
I'm realizing anew, this read-through of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, how much this series really depends on its fascinating array of guest stars, of which there are two in The Mauritius Command, both of great and sad importance: Captain Corbett, a vicious "flogging captain" whose idea of discipline is severe even by the standards of Nelson's navy, and Lord Clonfert, with whom Jack once served as a youngster but who hasn't done quite as well as Jack since. So, um, uh oh. We see trouble before we even meet the gentlemen in question.

We meet them on Jack and Stephen's latest mission, to take charge of a frigate, hang a commodore's broad pendant on it (thus signifying that Jack is, at long last, to command a squadron!) and head out to the African islands of Mauritius and La Reunion, there to take these potentially highly strategic islands away from the French, who are doing rather a half-assed job of using them as a base for action in the Indian Ocean. Consult a quality atlas if this confuses.

The action in The Mauritius Command highlights better than any we've seen so far just how much military vessels of this time period and since served as vast mobile artillery batteries. How else can ships take on an island? Float around and around in that effortless-looking way and unleash hell with the big guns on anything that looks like it might contain Frenchmen. Boom! And if the French are so bold and impetuous as to send out ships of their own to put a stop to this harassment, well, Commodore Lucky Jack Aubrey knows how to take care of those. This all goes off tolerably well, but for a couple problems, problems intimately tied in with the personalities of the two guest star captains I mentioned above. The trouble with Corbett is pretty straightforward; his crew are tired of getting fifty lashes every time a bit of tar plops down to mar the perfection of Corbett's decks and thus grow mutinous. The trouble with Clonfert....

Ah, Clonfert. Lord Clonfert is one of the most fascinatingly tragic characters O'Brian has written. A son of the Irish aristocracy -- who are not considered Irish by the Irish and are not considered real aristocrats by the rest of their class in the U.K. -- he's already got a chip on his shoulder before Jack shows up on the scene. Once Jack does, Clonfert pretty much loses it (and he's bi-polar to boot, I should mention; his crew are used to his mood swings and tolerate them because sailors "dearly love a Lord", but Stephen and Clonfert's own surgeon spend a lot of the novel shaking their heads over Clonfert's case) and mounts an all-out campaign to prove that he's just as good as his old shipmate, with disastrous results.

Fortunately, even as Jack is dealing with the consequences of having Corbett and Clonfert under his command, he is also working closely with an army colonel that is an infantry version of Jack himself, the capable and vaguely Sharpe-like Colonel Keating. Together they manage to overcome most of the obstacles created by the fractious captains. Most of them.

For of course, no officer, however capable, has any control over what his superiors say or do, or where they show up, just in time to steal his thunder. Feeling outraged on Jack's behalf is, however, all part of the fun of reading these novels.

And fun they most certainly are! ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
The fourth book in the Aubrey-Maturin novels, it feels like dropping by on old friends, for the first time in some while (to the point of wondering if I'd skipped a book accidentally).

I found it a rollicking good read, but probably not where you'd start off someone new to the series. ( )
  redfiona | Jul 17, 2016 |
At the end of the [b:H.M.S. 'Surprise'|77427|H.M.S. 'Surprise' (Aubrey/Maturin Book 3)|Patrick O'Brian|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255923714s/77427.jpg|1200332], Captain Jack Aubrey finally had the chance to marry his beloved and settle down into a little country cottage. [b:The Muaritius Command|77431|The Mauritius Command (Aubrey & Maturin, #4)|Patrick O'Brian|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266467194s/77431.jpg|2393986] begins with his bff Doctor Stephen Maturin visiting him and offering Jack an opportunity to go back to sea. Jack leaps at the chance, both to return to the profession he loves and to get away from his hectoring mother-in-law and lumpish twin infants. And even better than he'd expected--when Jack makes it to La Reunon, he finds that he will be commanding the naval action. If he succeeds at the nearly impossible task of snatching Mauritius from the French, he might very well become an Admiral--but if he fails, his career will be over.

Jack is outgunned and outmanned, and several of the captains under his command are almost worse than useless. But through his own determined hard work and strategy, and Stephen's sly propaganda on land, success appears almost within reach...

I missed Sophie and Diana, and there was less interaction between Stephen and Jack than previously. But I was so glad to read about Stephen's depressed, almost viciously insightful thoughts on the people around him (and his deeply mistaken ideas of what was going on with the navy) and Jack's own terrible jokes and tireless, fearless action. What surprised me the most were Jack's own tact and tactical skills--all too often I fall back into the assumption that Stephen is the smart one, but truly the difference between them is the arenas in which they are gifted. I love these books for being full of nail-biting adventure and suspense--and also brimming with psychological insight. In fact, I love these books so much that I'm starting the next book as soon as I finish this review! ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I enjoyed this of course, yet I found it to be a little underwhelming. Story well told, movement on the Jack/Sophie front, but this could have been a straight ahead stand alone sea tale...not much to add to the story arc. From what I understand, the next book is the point in the series that they start to get truly great, which is scary to think of, as all four of these book so far have been great, this one just a bit less so. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Oct 15, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lavery, BrianContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiberg, CarlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
[None]
Dedication
To Mary Renault, glauk' eis Athenas. [Note: the Greek phrase means 'owls to Athens', the Greek equivalent of 'coals to Newcastle'.]
First words
Sometimes the reader of a novel, particularly a novel set in another age, likes to know whether the events have any existence outside the author's mind, or whether, like the characters, they are quite imaginary.

Author's note.
Captain Aubrey of the Royal Navy lived in a part of Hampshire well supplied with sea-officers, some of whom had reached flag-rank in Rodney's day while others were still waiting for their first command.

Chapter one.
Patrick O'Brian, unlike other writers of naval fiction, often uses real ships as the basis for his plots.

Jack Aubrey's ships, by Brian Lavery.
Quotations
A conquering race, in the place of that conquest, is rarely amiable; the conquerors pay less obviously than the conquered, but perhaps in time they pay even more heavily, in the loss of the humane qualities. Hard, arrogant, profit-seeking adventurers flock to the spoil, and the natives, though outwardly civil, contemplate them with a resentment mingled with contempt, while at the same time respecting the face of conquest -- acknowledging their greater strength. And to be divided between the two must lead to a strange confusion of sentiment. [139: Maturin, in his journal]
Once below and free of good mornings right and left, he went straight to sleep, with barely a pause between laying his long wet hair on the pillow and unconsciousness; and fast asleep he remained, in spite of the rumbling boots of a regiment of soldiers and the din inseparable from working the ship, until the faint tinkle of a teaspoon told some layer of his mind that coffee was ready. He sprang up, looked at the barometer, shook his head, dipped his face into a kid of tepid water, shaved, ate a hearty breakfast, and appeared on deck, fresh, pink, and ten years younger. [187: of Aubrey on the eve of battle]
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039330762X, Paperback)

Ashore without a command--and on half-pay to boot--Jack Aubrey's prayers are answered when Stephen Maturin shows up with a secret mission for him. The two men have been ordered to the Cape of Good Hope. There they hope to dislodge the French garrisons on the islands of Mauritius and La Reunion. Alas, two of their own colleagues--a dilettante and a martinet--prove to be nearly as great an obstacle as the French themselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:37 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

During the Napoleonic wars, British naval captain Jack Aubrey, charged with capturing the French islands of Reunion and Mauritius, must first cope with his fellow commanders

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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Editions: 039330762X, 039330812X, 0393037045

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