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The Mauritius Command (original 1977; edition 2000)

by Patrick O'Brian

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2,528342,394 (4.1)40
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Title:The Mauritius Command
Authors:Patrick O'Brian
Info:Thorndike Press (2000), Hardcover, 501 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction, Audiobook

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The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian (1977)

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Moving onward to volume four of the Aubrey-Maturin series. According to O’Brian’s preface, The Mauritius Command is based on an actual campaign, and this shows in various ways. Most notably in how focused it is (at least for a novel by O’Brian) – it follows the course of the campaign closely, barely straying from its tightly defined path – no amorous entanglements, no naturalist expeditions, none (or at least, very few) of the leisurely ambling that characterized Post Captain and HMS Surprise and which, for me at least, tend to be the main source of delight in this series.

As can be infered from this, I liked Mauritius Command rather less than the two novels before, and it most reminds me of Master & Commander with its emphasis placed firmly on naval matters and warfare at sea. And O’Brian is as good with those as always, giving us detailed descriptions of sea-battles that make the strategy involved transparent even to a not particularly nautically inclined reader while at the same time giving a very vivid impression of the messiness, the confusing motion, deafening sounds, overpowering smells of naval fighting. It is all very exciting, but just not what I enjoy most about the series, which are the characters of Aubrey and Maturin, and their constant wonder at each other and at the world around them. That element is not completely absent from The Mauritius Command but it is in relatively short supply.

O’Brian to some degree makes up for that with the new characters he introduces, most notably another captain / ship’s doctor pairing we encounter here in Lord Clonfert and William McAdam, that is very different from the relationship between Jack and Stephen and yet mirrors in very interesting ways. This doubled pairing, Aubrey and Maturin set in relation to what could be considered their dark twins, a deeply conflicted captain and his alcoholic ship’s doctor are what made this novel for me. But your mileage may of course vary, and it’s not like I had been bored during the more strictly nautical parts of the novel – everything considered, The Mauritius Command is another highly enjoyable installment in the series. It’s also where I had to break off my first reading for unrelated reasons, so from the next volume I shall be sailing uncharted waters.
1 vote Larou | Apr 28, 2015 |
Book number four in O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, set on the high seas during the Napoleonic Wars. This time, the intrepid Captain Aubrey is given command of a squadron of ships and directed to attempt to take the island of Mauritius from the French.

My one problem with this book is pretty much the same as with the previous books in the series: I have a lot of trouble following the action. I thought maybe I was getting better at that, but I'm not. It doesn't help that this one features a much larger number of ships and ships' captains to keep straight, either. Especially when a couple of the captains have similar names, and several of the British ships have French names, and ships seemed to be getting captured and changing hands almost constantly... At some point, I may have given up on ever being entirely clear just who was on what side. In fairness to O'Brian, though, he was being historically accurate, and I was being pretty dense. Which I often am about military action scenes. Still, it was a bit frustrating.

Fortunately, this one also features the things I liked best about the earlier volumes. There is, perhaps, a bit less emphasis on Aubrey and Maturin and their friendship, but there's still some pretty good character stuff. There's also a lot of wonderful, droll humor. Nothing nearly as laugh-out-loud funny as the sloth incident from the previous book -- I'll be surprised if the series ever tops that -- but a lot of quietly amusing moments.

I will definitely be carrying on with this series, in any case, even if I am making my way through it very slowly. ( )
  bragan | Sep 2, 2014 |
When the fourth book of the Aubrey-Maturin series begins, Jack Aubrey is land-bound at his cottage in England. Married life is agreeing with him, overall, and yet ... he misses the ocean, the cottage is overcrowded, and he's living on half wages. Stephen shows up and soon, they have a mission which will send them halfway around the world to Mauritius to fight the French again.

The strengths:

As always, the friendship between Jack and Stephen
O'Brian's wonderful descriptions of everything; I could feel the bustling claustrophobia of Jack's cottage
Stephen's often-thwarted attempts to collect wildlife specimens in the exotic places he visits

The weaknesses:

With Jack often being at a distance from the action, it wasn't as exciting
Somehow, the book's pacing felt odd - both rushed and with long periods of not much happening

It was a good book, not stellar. But it's a long series, and HMS Surprise was absolutely wonderful, so this one suffers in comparison.

Recommended for: anyone already embarked on the series, fans of buddy road-movies

Quote: "'The coffee has a damned odd taste.'
'This I attribute to the excrement of rats. Rats have eaten our entire stock; and I take the present brew to be a mixture of the scrapings at the bottom of the sack.'
'I thought it had a familiar tang,' said Jack." ( )
  ursula | Jun 3, 2014 |
If I had started with this one, I never would have picked up another. I couldn't make sense of the action--it was either overly summarized, or maybe occurring off screen and never explained, I'm not even sure what, because I just couldn't follow it. In the previous books, you are in the action minute by minute, and even if, like Stephen Maturin or myself, you don't know a forecastle from a mizzenmast, you get what is going on. Here, I still don't know what happened. Throw in a captain who was murdered and tossed overboard off screen and you have to wonder, why bother to tell this story if you are not going to show it? ( )
1 vote read.to.live | Oct 5, 2013 |
Read this on the way back from a recent trip to Europe (and through post-trip jet lag). OK, I'm hooked! What's most compelling is [a:Patrick O'Brian|5600|Patrick O'Brian|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1212630063p2/5600.jpg]'s portrayal of mastery, in this case of the intricacies of commanding an 18th century British navy frigate and sailing ship. Could probably have a bit more Moby Dick type blood-and-guts, though in its understated way it shares plenty of the gory details of life at sea.

This is now my main source on the British capture of Mauritius from the French, one of the more interesting such conquests I know about. [The book doesn't deal with the aftermath: the British retained control of Mauritius (ceding Réunion back to the French after the end of the Napoleonic Wars), the original bargain at surrender held, giving the Mauritians the right to retain the French language, etc. To this day Mauritius is French-dominant multilingual, with English the language of government and administration.]

While I am unlikely to get a DVD of Russell Crowe as [b:Master and Commander|17766|Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin Book 1)|Patrick O'Brian|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1166853769s/17766.jpg|722040], I do at least have an easy choice anytime I'm looking for airline/summertime/jetlag/just-want-a-good-read reading... the other umpteen volumes in this series! Had no idea that [a:Patrick O'Brian|5600|Patrick O'Brian|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1212630063p2/5600.jpg] was such a literatus as well - translator of Simone de Beauvoir of all things! ( )
  Katong | Apr 14, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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 11 descriptions

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