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The Yellow Admiral (1996)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (18)

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2,023185,621 (4.11)39
The continuing saga of the Royal Navy's Captain Jack Aubrey, now being sued by slaveholders for the ships he confiscated off Africa. At the same his wife is after him for his affair with a mistress. Things improve when he goes to sea to fight the French and captures a ship with gold.

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» See also 39 mentions

English (16)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
These books just seem to get better and better. I dread reaching the end of the series. I wish they could go on forever, but alas, nothing does. ( )
  GratzFamily | Sep 17, 2020 |
The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O’Brian’s eighteenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Commodore, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin having returned from disrupting the slave trade off the Ivory coast and now taking part in the Brest blockade to prevent Napoleon’s naval forces from rallying while Napoleon’s fortunes falter at land. Like many of O’Brian’s novels, the story shows the fickle nature of fortune, with Jack stuck in legal proceedings concerning some of the prizes he took off Africa. He also worries about the possibility of being yellowed. That is, promoted to flag rank but without a squadron. It remains a possibility because of politics and a dispute regarding enclosure with a neighbor, the heir of one of the admirals.

While on the Brest blockade aboard the HMS Bellona, Jack receives worse news that his mother-in-law found papers from an indiscreet affair he had in Canada during book seven, The Surgeon’s Mate. She gave these letters to Sophie, his wife, who is enraged and plans to leave him. Stephen also worries about his fortune, as the Spanish authorities seek to confiscate it for his part in supporting Peruvian independence during The Wine-Dark Sea, which leaves he and his wife, Diana, in dire straits. Fortunately, events begin to change when Diana and Clarissa Oakes intervene with Sophie. Stephen receives word that his fortune is preserved and, though connections with Sir Joseph Blaine, arranges a way for Jack to distinguish himself should peace break out, thereby making it possible for him to advance without being yellowed. As the novel nears its end, Napoleon is defeated and exiled to Elba. The Brest blockade returns to port for paying off and Stephen helps Jack to secure a new position doing hydrographical work while also advancing the cause of independence in Chile. They ready the Surprise, bringing their families for a cruise to Madeira where they will meet the Chilean operatives. While enjoying a brief vacation, Jack receives word that Napoleon has escaped and that he has been reinstated to blockade the Straits of Gibraltar.

At times, The Yellow Admiral feels very much like an interim novel, but it does have some great character development which is one of O’Brian’s strengths, particularly as readers are devoted to these characters by this point. The focus on fortune’s fickle nature is a recurrent theme in the series and works well here, with a midshipman’s death perfectly demonstrating its power for sailors. O’Brian also does a good job capturing the changing times, with enclosure altering the countryside and the commons. Fans who have made it this far will find the material they expect from O’Brian, including some nice puns. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes and maps on the endpapers to help readers visualize the geography of the Brest coastline. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Apr 5, 2020 |
Another good installment, albeit with less of the natural history bits I enjoy and more of the politics and naval maneuvering (which are just as good, to be fair). I hate to think I'm getting close to the end of this series I've enjoyed so much ... ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 13, 2015 |
A very good pervasive aura of melancholy. The characters are getting older, in both good and bad ways; every victory seems to lead to a defeat. ( )
  sben | Feb 11, 2014 |
Jack Aubrey has bad luck, a bit brought on by a political squabble on land. The policy of inclosure allows men who own land to lay claim to the scraps of land held in common around it. Commons are farmed by those who don't own land. When it is then inclosed, farmers used to working a small plot for themselves must then beg employment of the lords who have in effect stolen land from them in order to make larger more efficient farms with greater yields, and profits for the owners.

Jack is opposed to this threat to a common in his domain, so goes to the hearing about it and objects, effectively stopping the action in its tracks. This makes Jack a hero to the common folk but sets him at odds with the landowner who wanted inclosures for himself, a former navy man whose uncle is the admiral in charge of Jack's squadron. The admiral finds Jack negligent, greedy and other things in the course of his duty to protect the waters around Brest, effectively preventing him from getting his blue flag, an honorable promotion and the next logical step considering Aubrey's illustrious career.

In addition, Jack has suffered because of foolish indiscretions with a woman whose love letters to JA have fallen into the hands of his mother in law, a vindictive old bitty. Sophie speaks words of bitterness to Jack who goes to her seeking forgiveness.

In contrast, Stephen and Diana are experiencing marital bliss. She is as understanding of men's flaws as a feminist can be, urging Sophie to back at Jack by getting some for herself.

The war is winding down, signaling the end of a naval career, the end of a series. There is a melancholy flavor to this book, not unlike the Letter of Marque, when Jack was disgraced and thrown from the service.

Still I eagerly look to the next volume in the series. The characters remain complex, intriguing, and develop with each book. I especially liked learning about advances in medicine, and Stephen's curiosity about the use of maggots to clean wounds. ( )
  paakre | Apr 27, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Antón, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kann, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mary, with love
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Sir Joseph Blaine, a heavy, yellow-faced man in a suit of grey clothes and a flannel waist-coat, walked down St James's Street, across the park, and so to the Admiralty, which he entered from behind, opening the private door with a key and making his way to the large, shabby room in which he had his official being.

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We have gathered here together, thanks to the splendid initiative of Max Hastings and the Evening Standard, to celebrate and to honour one of the greatest storytellers in the English language.

'Speech at the Painted Hall, Greenwich' by William Waldegrave.
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The continuing saga of the Royal Navy's Captain Jack Aubrey, now being sued by slaveholders for the ships he confiscated off Africa. At the same his wife is after him for his affair with a mistress. Things improve when he goes to sea to fight the French and captures a ship with gold.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393040445, 0393317048

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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