Sailings this week

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Sailings this week

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Jan 3, 2012, 11:57am

Or any week. Thanks to being completely corrupted by the Folio Society I've been working my way through the series. Just started the Far Side of the World. Where are you presently sailing with Jack and Stephen?

Jan 3, 2012, 12:45pm

Re-reading The Reverse of the Medal for the nth time. One of my favourites - despite or perhaps because of much of the action taking place on land.

Edited: Jan 31, 2012, 8:13am

The Commodore will be next for me.

OK I romped through that, and The Yellow Admiral is now waiting by me bed (while I finish The Hogfather).

Jan 5, 2012, 10:05am

Currently rereading The Nutmeg of Consolation.

Jan 5, 2012, 11:30am

In port for liberty after completing HMS Surprise, my first undertaking through the entire series. I have 6 other volumes on my shelves to get through before scrabbling together the cash to purchase further volumnes from Folio, expect to take to the high seas by Spring.

Feb 1, 2012, 2:51am

Recently finished The Hundred Days (19), which unfortunately didn't delight me nearly as much as most of the other books in the series. It had it's moments, of course, but the depth of intrigue, and the heart pounding excitement of the naval actions just didn't compare. Overall, what a treasure this series is. I absolutely love Jack and Stephen (especially Stephen). If only the stories could go on forever.

Edited: Jan 13, 2015, 3:55pm

Currently in the Arafura Sea on HMAS Hammersley... --oops, wrong show ;-D.

I fell off the wagon about 18 months ago, but got out "The Yellow Admiral" to continue my journey (first time through the Canon). I agree that some of the later volumes seem a bit slow. I've got all 20 volumes as HarperCollins paperbacks, though I would love to own hardcovers like those from Folio --if I win the lottery...

Looking forward to start again (Post Captain! Yay!).

Feb 1, 2012, 12:45pm

Starting The Reverse of the Medal this weekend.

Mar 1, 2012, 9:33am


I pulled Fortune of War from my shelf, ready for the spring sail I mentioned in 6: sat down last night and read all of Chapter 1, and part of Chapter 2. Wanted to continue but it was past midnight ...

It was great getting back into the doings of Aubrey & Maturin, and I thought how nice O'Brian's approach to the series. So much happened between the opening of this volume and the close of the last! I wonder if it will feature in more detail later, or just part of the rich backstory he's developed for his world and its characters.

Then I realised: I was reading Volume 6, but I'd left off with Volume 3.

So after this enjoyable false start, I'll return to port and set sail properly later this week, installed in my Mauritius Command. Once my shelves are properly arranged, of course.

Mar 29, 2012, 8:02am

I'm now half way through The Hundred Days. I started the series in January 2001; three this year (so far).

Mar 29, 2012, 8:49am

Just started The Letter of Marque. Poor Jack is so sad.

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 12:48pm

>10 N.D.R.:, 11

You're each going along at a prodigious rate. I'm hoping for 2 this year, maybe 3 but that only by December.

Mar 29, 2012, 3:24pm

well in that case i must really be cracking on!
i'm just starting the series for the second time with M&C, but i plan to be finished before the end of the year.

i first finished the series about three years ago, and since then i've been through many nautical journeys with Hornblower (excellent!), Alexander Kent's 'Bolitho' series (it's okay, not great), C. Northcote Parkinson's 'Richard DeLancey' series (not bad), a few of Dudley Pope's 'Ramage' books (better than Kent, imo), a few of the Alan Lewrie adventures by Dewey Lambdin (i like these), Rafael Sabatini's 'Capt. Blood' books, and some Richard Woodman, Edwin P. Hoyt, Gene Hackman ('The Wake of the Pole Star'), etc, not to mention the better part of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' series (great stuff!).

so now i figured i would see O'Brian in a different light, being somehow less impressed as i am now such an 'old tar'.
not so.
these books are on a level above any of the others (with the possible exception of Sharpe), the characters far more developed and the technical descriptions far more detailed. half way through the first book one already has a feel for who these people are, an understanding one rarely gets from Bolitho or DeLancey.

so with the end of Master and Commander i will have sunk the horizon, on my way to adventure and glory once again!

Apr 4, 2012, 10:38pm

Started Desolation Island last evening, directly upon finishing Mauritius Command.

I'm finding Don Seltzer's Aubrey-Maturin Chronology and Michael Schuyler's Butcher's Bill to be fine sailing companions, though they are full of spoilers so I prefer to reflect upon where I've been rather than take a peek at where I'm headed.

Each is available as a PDF online.

Apr 9, 2012, 1:43pm

Finished up The Letter of Marque. I thought it was very sweet that Jack gave his little brother the pistol ball Stephen dug out of his back. Can you imagine going back to school and showing off something like that from your famous brother to the other boys? I'm about to start The Thirteen Gun Salute.

Apr 13, 2012, 4:09am

i paid off Post Captain yesterday and i'm just starting HMS Surprise.

i had started this one my first time through, right after reading M&C. once i realized that i was out of sequence i put it aside until i finished Post Captain, then read it again in order.
i guess i know Chapter 1 of HMS Surprise better than anything else in the canon!


Apr 13, 2012, 12:25pm

Just completed HMS Surprise. Easily the most enjoyable of the first three. It's taken me time to get into this series. After reading Master and Commander I wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I know. I'm glad I persisted which I wouldn't have done if not for all the good reviews. Just bought the next four from FS in the summer sale and looking forward to setting sail again.

Apr 19, 2012, 11:07am


I always recommend either starting with HMS Surprise or skipping Post Captain the first time through for exactly that reason, since Surprise is definitely where O'Brian hits his stride. Er, gets the wind in his sails?

Apr 19, 2012, 5:15pm

I'm entirely new to the series (I did see the movie when it came out), but have always wanted to read this series. I started at Master and Commander, finishing last night. I liked it. I really enjoy series and I know the first book isn't where it gets to be the best -- especially when a series, like this one, has been described as just one very long book. I've stockpiled the first four books for marathon reading to help me get through the last throes of being too early to be out in the garden (I live in northern Montana). So tonight I begin Post Captain.

Apr 20, 2012, 4:00am

while re-reading Post Captain recently i came across a small red wine stain on page 213 (it probably won't appear on your copy).

it was three years ago, at about 1:30 in the morning, and me and the dog were sitting on the front porch reading together, when Liebe suddenly jumped up to check out a cat or possum or whatever, right while i was in mid-sip.
i remember it like it was just 3 years ago...

Apr 20, 2012, 9:06am

A very appropriate stain. If it appears during a passage in Jack's cabin, with he & Stephen preparing to play their Corelli, all the better!

So far I've avoided accidents, but when it happens it's far more likely to be from "a dish of tea" or a pot of coffee. I can only hope mine comes without any rat feces.

I've just departed Desolation Island and will foray into other adventures for a bit. I expect to consider the Fortune of War later this year.

Apr 27, 2012, 4:16am

i agree that HMS Surprise is where it all really comes together.
i started The Mauritius Command a day or two ago, and i recall this being one of my favorites the first time through. so far it is proving true this time too.
lots of action here! and the scene ashore at the Cape with Stephen observing the 'experiment' at the inn is wonderful.

Apr 27, 2012, 9:23am

IS that the 'experiment' with the Scottish surgeon? That entire storyline is interesting, and often displays PO'B's droll wit.

Apr 27, 2012, 1:05pm

Mauritius Command last night and certainly tonight too.

Apr 27, 2012, 1:07pm

Also realized I don't have Desolation Island ready to go---. I need to slow down a little until it arrives.

Apr 27, 2012, 2:40pm

"IS that the 'experiment' with the Scottish surgeon? That entire storyline is interesting, and often displays PO'B's droll wit."

yes, that is the scene.
the Russian Capt. falls sideways off his chair, and Stephen merely looks at him and says "inconclusive"... lol!

May 3, 2012, 3:38am

yep, TMC is a right gooder.
the characters are fully developed now, and their personal histories are a matter of course and don't need any heavy-handed narration. we know what Stephen will think of Jack's actions (for instance), we can anticipate Jack's reaction when he reads some foolish admiral's order. they are old friends and we are privy.

anyway, mission accomplished.
i am hereby requested and required to board the 'orrible old Leopard and proceed to Desolation Island... not a moment to lose!

May 3, 2012, 4:02am

You've got the Leopard? A glass of wine with you sir!

May 4, 2012, 8:21am

Just finished Blue at the Mizzen - bit of a spoiler in the title! I get the impression that O'Brian wished he was Maturin and that he was more interested in natural history than sailing by the end of the series. Most of the naval action in the last few books happens off-stage and is reported, rather than happening directly to the characters.

Re the red wine stain, my mug says "Charles Lamb once told Coleridge he was especially fond of books containing traces of buttered muffins", but I try to keep mine clean.

May 4, 2012, 9:01am

I've not made it through the Canon yet: that's an interesting observation about naval action moving off-stage. I've found the onshore plot developments as satisfying as those asea, but certainly the balance is important.

You bring up Blue at the Mizzen so I'll ask a question I've been leaving until the time I get to that point in the series: everywhere else it's the mizen, is the Mizzen something else? Somewhere else?

May 4, 2012, 9:17am


You must be reading editions that are rife with typos, then. "Mizzen" is correct and I don't recall seeing it any other way in any of my copies.

May 4, 2012, 11:44am

Mizen and mizzen are alternative spellings of the same thing. Different publishers perhaps?

I just looked it up in an online dictionary and saw that it derives from the Catalan mitjana. How come Maturin is so erudite but is unable to learn nautical terminology that he is in contact with every day?

May 4, 2012, 12:12pm

>31 lorax:

Now I doubt myself: the question occurred to me, I thought, when comparing references in the text of my Folio Society editions to the title of that book. Maybe I've been wrong. I'll keep an eye out next time I'm reading. I must say, I'm not sure why the question would have occurred to me at all if there isn't that discrepancy, yet I'd be surprised if the FS editions had that typo.

May 18, 2012, 4:57pm

Desolation Island is now in my wake, and i'm off to the colonies for more trouble, but i guess those are The Fortunes of War.

Edited: Jun 15, 2012, 7:52pm

>30 elenchus: - 33

Page 1 of The Fortune of War, Folio Society edition (2nd Printing / 2010):
"... in spite of her pennant and the dingy ensign at her mizen-peak, she looked like an unusually shabby merchant ship." (This in reference to the poor Leopard, limping in after her misadventures in Desolation Island).

So is that a typo, or an alternative spelling? It is rendered distinctly with a single "z".

Jun 15, 2012, 9:27pm

>35 elenchus: My understanding is that the single z spelling was more common 200 years ago, and in the present day is more likely to be encountered in the UK than in the US (which is not to say that it is currently common in the UK).

Jun 18, 2012, 11:15am

Makes sense, I think I'm curious that O'Brian doesn't keep the same spelling for the title of the later book, Blue at the Mizzen. That's what prompted me to wonder whether the two spellings were different words / held distinct meanings.

Jul 30, 2012, 3:30pm

Well, sailings over the last few weeks. I just got back from a ten day cruise in the Baltic where our friends Aubrey and Maturin have sailed a few times. Even with modern technology I could see how an inattentive sailor could run afoul. Particularly near Finland I notice quite a few small rock outcroppings that were just a few feet above the water and some just under the surface. How they managed in the age of sail is truly astounding.

Jul 30, 2012, 10:37pm

Any pictures to share? I'm not a cruise ship fan, but I'm not handy with a line or a boom in even the calmest weather, so that would be the only way I'd see first-hand what the waters are like in any of their sea roads.

Jul 30, 2012, 11:26pm

Hi Group,
Just lurking at the moment but as soon as I get my last missing book (#16) I will start with #1 and re-read them all in sequence. Should be finished in a couple of years :-)

Jul 31, 2012, 1:08pm

The pics I took were mostly ashore, if you don't count the ones with me sitting on deck with a wineglass in my hand.

Aug 5, 2012, 10:02pm

HA! A good alternative, above deck with a wineglass!

Dec 4, 2012, 1:20pm

I'm laid up with a new knee and decided to take a Nutmeg of Consolation from Aubrey and Maturin. Unfortunately, they seem to be stranded on a desert island and Maturin has the flux. I'm sure Jack will get us out of this situation soon.

Dec 4, 2012, 1:22pm

My reading schedule is in the doldrums, but I'm hoping to take out Fortunes of War before year's end. Not sure how realistic an aim that is.

Dec 6, 2012, 8:45pm

Did I mention that the stranded Dianes are also suffering from a cannibal problem?

Jan 18, 2013, 3:43pm

I've left the Captain and the good doctor, who has been poisoned by a platypus whom he interrupted romancing a lady platypus, to sail off with that landlubber soldier Richard Sharpe in Sharpe's Trafalgar.

Jan 18, 2013, 4:08pm

Didn't make it out before the end of 2012, but I'm currently sailing from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic (part of the way in a cutter after a nasty ship fire).

I found it amusing to identify the weevil scene from the film, lifted from a passage in The Fortune of War.

Mar 1, 2013, 1:24pm

Recently completed The Surgeon's Mate and will take shore leave for a bit before embarking on the next assignment.

Mar 1, 2013, 4:06pm

Half way through Treasons Harbour. Enjoyed Aubrey's mirth over Mrs Fielding's phrase 'plying the oar' which he rewrote as 'playing the whore'.

Mar 18, 2013, 9:54am

I'm finally heading home with a bilious Jack Aubrey, new daddy Dr. Maturin and a stow away named Clarissa Oakes.

Apr 12, 2013, 10:18am

I just finished Sharpe's Prey, in which that land lubber Richard Sharpe was delivered on an espionage mission to Copenhagen in 1807, while the British navy fire-bombed the Danes. I had never heard of this event in the Napoleonic Wars until last summer. While passing through Copenhagen on the way to the airport a tour guide mentioned the destruction of the city by the Brits. It was quite shocking to us Americanos, we always thought the Brits and the Danes got along, but they're still talking about it 200 years later.

May 17, 2013, 10:14am

I'm back in the Pacific with Jack and the Doctor, chasing an American privateer in the Wine-Dark Sea. The sea is acting very strange because of a volcanic eruption that has pummeled the prey and left them begging to be captured. Will our heroes ever get home again?

May 18, 2013, 11:15pm

Still on hiatus: but always good to hear of the latest excursion!

Jul 24, 2013, 3:24pm

It seems the bad guys are after the good doctor, Clarissa Oakes and Padeen as I am venturing out with a new Commodore.

Jul 24, 2013, 4:42pm

I am reading both The Commodore and The Surgeons Mate, picking up whichever is closest at hand. Having read most titles at least 3 times, I no longer feel the need to read in any sort of order. Just happy to enjoy the journey.

Jul 25, 2013, 9:27am

>55 zenomax:

That is dizzying to contemplate. I wonder if ever I shall reach that stage!

Oct 9, 2013, 8:49am

I'm suffering through blockade duty and contemplating marital strife in The Yellow Admiral.

Edited: Oct 28, 2013, 5:07pm

I'm into The Hundred Days in which Napoleon has escaped from Elba, and our heroes are navigating some difficult political waters in the eastern Med. Alas, my favorite minor character, with a big influence, has appeared on the butcher's bill. So long to fast horses and faster women.

Nov 1, 2013, 10:40pm

Just underway in The Wine-Dark Sea in my second trip through the series.

Nov 29, 2013, 3:34pm

I recently finished Blue at the Mizzen and am going through withdrawals. What happened with Christine and what's going on in South Africa? How can I go on without knowing!!

Dec 17, 2013, 1:08pm

60 > You know, there is volume 21 :) But it's not going to be published by the Folio Society, sadly enough.

Jan 16, 2014, 9:30am

I've left port on the Worcester, readying for an Ionian Mission (which at present, is obscure).

I will say, the first chapter is a showcase of both Maturin and Aubrey, separately and in their particular friendship. It could stand alone as an example of their charm, idiosyncracies, and humour. O'Brian almost took it over the top, I imagine he had a bit of fun writing it.

It's good to be under sail, like Jack I've been stuck ashore for months on end.

Jan 17, 2014, 12:26pm

The Ionian Mission is probably my second favorite of the series to the glorious HMS Surprise, I think in part because of that delightful first chapter.

Edited: Jan 27, 2014, 1:04pm

Interesting that The Ionian Mission packs so much into a single installment. Stephen gets a mission ashore, Jack again frets over his situation at home but commands a couple ships and is reunited with dear Surprise, so many of the old hands are mustered for the Worcester and later Surprise, and again a couple examples of the naval action!

And the humour makes quite an appearance, I found myself laughing aloud probably once per chapter, sometimes more often.

The only thing "missing" was Stephen's naturalism did not play a central role, though there were a good number of references to prior episodes. (ETA And, a brief description of his foray to view the spotted eagle.) This is perhaps the only aspect of the novel which is unrepresentative of the canon generally.

May 5, 2014, 11:52pm

And now to the far side of the world. It's become clear that PO'B is unhurried in his storytelling and his prose, especially in the early chapters. It's a welcome return to the characters and setting. Later chapters, I suspect, will follow the pattern and jump ahead by weeks or even months, leaving major developments to be shared in an aside between Jack and Stephen, or whomever, with me breathlessly trying to keep up.

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