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New to Pat O'Brien

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1wdwebdv First Message
Sep 9, 2007, 7:08pm

Hello fans...I just found LibraryThing, and this particular board was the first one I wanted to find. I just started the series a month or so ago, and have been dying to be able to discuss it!

I've noticed there isn't much activity of late, but I hope there are enough of you visiting now and then to help me out.


Sep 9, 2007, 11:07pm

I've just joined LibraryThing as well, although I've reread the O'Brian books a couple of times. God and Mary be with you.

Sep 11, 2007, 12:49am

So, discuss away.

While this group isn't quite as chatty as some (details supplied on request) I'm confident that a question or statement won't go unanswered.


Sep 12, 2007, 8:26am

Welcome! It's always nice to see new volunteers around - we like to avoid sending out the press more than once a year.

Sep 12, 2007, 10:46am

Thank you

I'm right in the middle of "Post Captain". Aubrey just received the 'care package' from Sophie via Maturin.

I almost quit reading the series within, oh, 2 pages of Master and Commander. I started, then thought, 'there has to be some sort of vocabulary list online SOMEWHERE!!!' and found out about the Lexicon and the Atlas. The Lexicon has been indispensable to a newbie like me.

At the moment, I don't have any nagging questions on my mind. I would like to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the Aubrey in a bear costume section.

Sep 12, 2007, 3:59pm

Well, I did too truthfully :) One of my dear friends, who also is a great fan of the series, couldn't stand the section however! My personal favorite book is your next one up: HMS Surprise

Here's a section on the reference books -

Be well advised that the reference books usually are packed full of spoilers, particularly Persons, Animals, Ships and Cannon / Patrick O'Brian Muster book which are encyclopedic in scope, and the entries reflect what's happened in the series entire.

Nov 7, 2007, 6:04am

I joined LibraryThing today, relieved that I'd finally found something that makes sitting in front of the computer worthwhile. I have the POB series, bought in a wonderful heap from a charity shop two years ago. I've been miserly with them but even so I'm down to reading the last three. I like coming back to them after months away - like catching up with old friends who have stacks to tell you and all of it more interesting than your own landlubber life. I don't have too much trouble with the language but the wind directions and spatial coordinates, particularly in battle, twist me round.

May 17, 2008, 12:47pm

hello all!

i just joined this group today, in support of my renewed interest in the series. i look forward to discussing all things nautical with you.

i firrst read O'Brian a number of years ago, when my dad sent me a complimentary copy of 'Master and Commander', which i read enthusiastically.
however at that time i was busy with other literary ventures and didn't move on from there.
i am about to change that now, as i dive into 'H.M.S Surprise'.

i would like to ask though... how important is it to keep to the original sequence? should i reduce sail and read 'Post Captain' first, or am i in good water here?

May 17, 2008, 2:43pm


I would recommend reading the series in order just because there are so many characters and threads running through the series that it gets a bit confusing!

Having said that, each book is a self contained story and can happily be read in isolation.

I am on my third run through the series and am now reading in random order.

May 17, 2008, 5:46pm

ahh, thanks for that.

i actually decided that this was probably the best course, so i went out this afternoon and bought 'Post Captain'. i have already seen a few passing references in 'HMS Surprise' and figured it would be better not to get too deep into that one until i got a better foundation.

man, this is great!
this is the feeling i always envy in those just reading Sherlock Holmes for the first time... a feeling i haven't had with fiction for some time. i'm really looking forward to getting to know these characters better.

May 20, 2008, 4:02pm

Welcome to the club, Enodia. O'Brian is indeed addicting.

I just finished The Yellow Admiral. Nothing much happens, but it's just fun to hang out with the boys.

Only 2 more "official" books left for me. I supposed I'll read 21 as well. Anyone have opinions about it they'd like to share?

I fully intend to just start up again at the beginning once I finish them all. Every once in a while, I just have to read one.

May 20, 2008, 6:32pm

>11 littlegeek: "Every once in a while, I just have to read one."

Me too. I could stop at one, no, really I could. If I wanted to I could just read one then stop. Honest.


May 21, 2008, 8:21pm

Consider 21 a gift. It is incomplete, of course, but it also proves that the series did not end--just the author did.

May 22, 2008, 5:49am

And lets not forget PO'B wrote other books:

The Golden Ocean, his first attempt at writing an historical novel about the sea
Biographies of Picasso and Banks
And I am sure he published at least 1 other novel and at least 1 book of short stories.

And as mentioned elsewhere in this group, the biography by Nikolai Tolstoy is important in understanding the man. I have not read it, but it is on my list for this year.

May 22, 2008, 6:34pm

And translations... many translations, the most popular of which would have to have been Papillon (and Banco??) by Heri Charriere.

May 23, 2008, 11:35am


After the Aubrey/Maturin series, you can go on to The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore, both based on Commodore Anson's expedition to the Pacific.

After O'Brian's two books, there are at least two books about Anson's voyage that I have read, including one from a chaplain on the voyage.

Beyond that, the Napoleonic wars are the basis for several other naval adventure authors, and obviously for histories of that era and their wars, too.

May 23, 2008, 12:45pm

davidt, thanks. For me it's not necessarily Napoleanic wars/naval history per se, but really the wonderful characters and well drawn world created by O'Brian. But thanks for the tips. I do like maritime stuff. Perhaps it's my Norweigan blood.

May 23, 2008, 1:31pm

You will find wonderful characters in The Golden Ocean and in The Unknown Shore, although not developed at the extent available to O'Brian with Aubrey, Maturin, and other characters in the 21 book series.

I would caution everyone that The Unknown Shore contains scenes for mature audiences that may offend some. No, not explicit sex, but other difficult themes.

May 23, 2008, 2:02pm

I recommend reading them in order, if possible, because later books occasionally make references to earlier persons or events. The sense of "history" is helpful in the later books and makes them richer.

I'm on my second trip through the series. The first time, I actually gave up halfway through Post Captain and took it back to the library. But curiosity got the better of me. I checked it out again, finished it, and read the rest of the series in order.

I've described the books as not so much a series to read as a world in live in. By the last book, you feel like you really do know Jack and Stephen and have lived in their time.

O' Brian's book Men of War: Life in Nelson's Navy has been a helpful companion to the series for me.

May 23, 2008, 7:08pm

"Men of War: Life in Nelson's Navy"

yes, i found this last week and have been fascinated with it.
i was fairly well aware of much of the less technical aspects of naval life in that era, having enjoyed C.S. Forester, Melville and the like as a boy. but this book really delivers the details in a very accessible way.

May 24, 2008, 5:56am

#16 It is interesting how a work of fiction can lead you on to non fiction works around the same subject.

I think I have always had a latent interest in the sea and in sailing ships - but apart from reading Cook's journals (as a New Zealander it was a natural thing for me to do) I haven't yet read much other than the Aubrey - Maturin series (2 and 1/2 times so far).

I've made a mental note of your recommendations for a later date.

However, since joining LT I have so many mental notes in my head that I may not get to the Anson or Napoleonoic books for some time.

But it has rekindled my interest...

Edited: May 25, 2008, 11:21pm

I'm currently contemplating starting The Wine-Dark Sea, which is the very first O'Brian book I bought and began to read. Before finishing the first chapter I said aloud "Oh my God," and went back to the bookstore to buy the first five books in the series. I am now on a leisurely repeat voyage through the canon, perhaps my fifth or sixth in fifteen years, taking my time to savor the characters and descriptions and set scenes.

Jul 25, 2008, 3:11pm

Just started reading O'Brian! I'm on Post Captain. I listened to the audiobook version of Master and Commander after seeing the film (great soundtrack by the way!) I actually find it easier to read than listen to, and I didn't like the way the narrator did Stephen's voice. I never thought I would be interested in these books, but now I find myself looking up all sorts of things about seafaring and naval matters!

Jul 25, 2008, 4:55pm

Hook, line and sinker. *snerk*
Welcome to the fold, Katissima. Lucky you --I have only 2 books to go... and then I'll start again with Master and Commander ;-)

I'd love to listen to the audiobooks (read by Patrick Tull, I have heard all sorts of good things about them), but at about 55$ apiece, they cost more than I am willing to pay. OK, if the Dollar drops some more my resolve may weaken!

Jul 25, 2008, 7:37pm


As a new reader starting on O'Brian's sea books, I would warn you that the movie was created from several novels, and "Master and Commander" was not one of them.

See the Wikipedia article:

for details.

Jul 26, 2008, 1:06pm

I think they did a pretty good job with getting the "feel" of the books with the movie.

>24 GirlFromIpanema: Audible has the Patrick O'Brien books, but I guess you really need an mp3 player. I have the 14.99 a mo. plan, so that means I can get 1 of his books a mo. for $14.99, and then if you want to get more than one book in a month, you get a discount. Audible's downloading is a little finicky, but I haven't had any problems with the DRM. And it is definitely the best deal around price-wise, other than going to the library. My library still has mostly cassette tape audio books, so that isn't really useful anymore. I have a cassette deck in my car, but I don't have one in my home or anything.

Jul 26, 2008, 1:20pm

Librarything appears to be eating my posts these days, but you may be interested in seeing the direct connections between the books and the film:

There are spoilers for some of the books though, so be aware!

Jul 27, 2008, 5:02pm

Yeah, looks like Peter Weir & his co-writers read the Canon pretty attentively. There is also this quote of P. Weir I picked from the extras of the DVD:
""In fact, I got so deeply into it -and fans of the books will understand this- that if I was going on a long journey --I remember a trip from Sydney to Washington, I would calculate it was a three-book-trip, and would arm myself with the three volumes ahead. On that particular trip, I ran out in Washington. So like some bizarre O'Brian junkie, there I was, running through the streets looking for a bookshop that had O'Brian. "Do you have volume ten?" -"Yes, we do." -"Oh thank you. Put it in a brown paper bag."


Jul 27, 2008, 5:20pm

Hah! I've read books that I would be ashamed to be seen on the bus, train, plane etc. with, but O'Brian is definitely not among them. I don't think I've gone to this much trouble (looking things up etc.) with reading a book since I was in college, and I probably never did it then either!

Jul 28, 2008, 7:50pm

#28. I have the deluxe edition of the CD where there are some interviews. Peter Weir has this O'Brian book completely tattered and full of Post-it notes sticking out everywhere. It would be called a 'reading copy' (if you could still do it) I'm sure.

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