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The Thirteen-gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian

The Thirteen-gun Salute (original 1989; edition 1997)

by Patrick O'Brian

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1,854185,325 (4.2)24
Title:The Thirteen-gun Salute
Authors:Patrick O'Brian
Info:HarperCollins (1997), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:novel, fiction, warfare, naval, napoleonic, 19th century

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The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian (1989)

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In which the planned mission of privateer Surprise in support of an independent South America is exposed to the Spanish, forcing a new mission aboard HMS Diane to the East Indies. Aubrey & Maturin escort Edward Fox, as British envoy a personage who merits a thirteen-gun salute. Their joint objective: secure a pact with Sultan of Pulo Prabang, before same can be reached by the French (efforts led by Ledward & Wray).


In narrative asides and Stephen's own musings, we learn of his revolutionary past for Irish independence, and 2 new names surface: Mona, an "old sweetheart" and Robert Gough a fellow radical for independence but one espousing alliance with France (United Irishmen), which Stephen rejects.

Observing penguins and a whale swimming as though in an aquarium tank, due to heavy swell and unusually clear waters near Inaccessible Island. A memorable hike to the Kumai Temple within an elevated crater on Borneo. Unorthodox autopsies with Van Buren, thereby and not incidentally disposing of cadavers.

"Lucky" Jack finally is reinstated to the Naval List in this, the thirteenth installment: is this number O'Brian's inspiration for the idea of an envoy? Aboard Diane, Jack takes measurements for Humboldt on salinity & sea temperatures.

The Diane avoids breaching against Inaccessible Island, only to run aground an uncharted reef in the East Indies (on which Welby's marines show their mettle in the face of a typhoon).

Events proceed from May "in the 53rd year of His Majesty's reign", and close unspecified months later.

Indebted to Schuyler's "Butcher's Bill" for chronology and names, and multiple cross-references. ( )
  elenchus | Nov 14, 2016 |
Now that Aubrey is restored to the King's Navy once more, he's off on another mission, this time to Malaysia. His particular friend, Dr.Stephen Maturin, is along to spy on the French's forces in Malaysia. The diplomatic mission goes well, not least because Maturin disgraces and then kills the leading French diplomats. (This plot line is one of those masterful strokes that O'Brian is so excellent at. For the first half of the book, Maturin and Fox often practice their long distance shooting as part of a friendly competition. Later, Maturin befriends an anatomist and has amusingly detached conversations with him. Maturin stays in a brothel and watches the French. All of these minor little background moments come together in one stunning scene, when Maturin turns up on the anatomist's doorstop with an unnamed body with a precise bullet hole, and they dispassionately dissect it. It's stunning and cold.) On the way home, the ship is wrecked on uncharted reefs, and the crew is stranded on a small island.

O'Brian has a talent for the long game, giving little clues and hints that slowly build to a crescendo. He's unafraid of making his characters unlikable, or absurd, which in turn makes them actually far more interesting. ( )
1 vote wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
After a while it gets hard to gauge these books, but this seems like one of the better of the bunch, with a little bit of everything that's great about O'Brian's series: political intrigue, Maturin's scientific investigations, a bit of cover intelligence work, and of course some drama on the high seas. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 13, 2012 |
What is amazing to me is how Stephen can be so detached from his passions and feelings of revenge! There is a great scene in this book that is quite macabre but is written in such a detached way that a less careful reader might miss it entirely. Once again Jack earns his "lucky" moniker and the study of men and characters continues to interest. ( )
1 vote tjsjohanna | Jun 8, 2011 |
I love the entire series, but this book is one of my favorites. I can't really put my finger on why... though the scene with Maturin and the orangutan was fabulous :D

I wish they'd make more of these books into movies. Russell Crowe was fabulous as Capt. Aubrey, and Paul Bettany was the perfect Dr. Maturin. ( )
1 vote wispywillow | Feb 9, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In spite of the hurry, many wives and many sweethearts had come to see the ship off, and those members of her company who were not taken up with sailing her on her difficult course close-hauled to the brisk south-east breeze, watched the white flutter of their handkerchiefs far across the water until Black Point hid them entirely, shut them right out.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039330907X, Paperback)

Will Napoleon Bonaparte form an alliance with the Malay princes of the South China Sea? Not if Jack Aubrey can help it. Conveying a diplomatic mission to the Sultan's court, Aubrey and company must also contend with orangutans, typhoons, and a squadron of wily French envoys.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Captain Jack Aubery of the Diane sheperds Stephen Maturin on a diplomatic mission to prevent Bonaparte and the Malay princes from forming a pack.

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 039330907X, 0393029743

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