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Post Captain (1972)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (2)

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4,389652,110 (4.12)115
In 1803, Napoleon smashes the Peace of Amiens, and Captain Jack Aubrey, R.N., taking refuge in France from his creditors, is interned. He escapes from France, from debtor's prison, and from a possible mutiny and pursues his quarry straight into the mouth of a French held harbor.

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English (60)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
A steady-going follow-up to Master and Commander, Post Captain does not yet provoke the devotion that the Aubrey-Maturin series is said to induce in its readers. The nautical terminology is less bewildering – or perhaps I'm just used to it – but the book does not advance much from the promise of the first instalment.

I wrote in my review of Master and Commander that it was an investment that had not yet – but surely would – pay dividends, but Post Captain, ironically, begins with Captain Jack Aubrey fleeing a debt. His finances are in disarray, a promotion has been denied him, and he must away to sea on whatever can float. A great start, surely?

Unfortunately not, for the first half of the novel becomes mired on land, in a sort of Jane Austen-esque soap opera that sees Aubrey and his ship's doctor, Stephen Maturin, in some long-winded social courtship with two eligible young ladies. It's tolerable stuff, in its way – Post Captain is well-written from first to last – but it's not why we're here.

Naval adventure is why we're here – that, and the complementary friendship between Aubrey and Maturin – and, fortunately, the book begins to provide this in doses. Author Patrick O'Brian has an unparalleled ability to evoke the ins-and-outs of naval warfare (tacking in to the right wind, and all that other stuff) without sacrificing pace or tension, and every moment Post Captain is at sea is refreshing. In these parts, the novel is thrilling in its action, engaging in its conversation and astute in its characterisation. That this further shows the land-based scenes for their lubberliness (a bitter duel between Aubrey and Maturin is abandoned without further mention, while there is also an embarrassing sequence about one hundred pages in where Aubrey evades capture in France by disguising himself as a bear) is by the by. When O'Brian engages the enemy more closely, we can hardly wait to follow him in. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Feb 6, 2022 |
The prose of this book really wasn't my favorite, but I found the story rather interesting. I read this book for a book club that I am a part of. I listened to the audiobook and I really enjoyed the narration of the story was fun and I enjoyed listening to it, still, there were times where I found myself zoning out because of the overall voice the story carried. I do recommend the story as it is fun, but I don't know if I would read another Patrick O'Brian book myself. ( )
  klcarmack | Nov 12, 2021 |
Another great adventure of Aubrey and Maturin. ( )
  nitins | Jul 28, 2021 |
I'll admit that I still can't parse half the naval terminology in these novels, but they are so relentlessly charming that I can't help but enjoy them. Dropping Aubrey and Maturin at the start of the story in a sort of Jane Austen-ish scenario is a true delight, as is much of what follows. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Unabridged audiobook read by Ric Jerrom:
Jerrom is a skilled reader and helps to bring the story to life.

Note that there are separate audiobooks read by Patrick Tull. I recommend Ric Jerrom over Patrick Tull as a reader.

Simon Vance is another reader option but I haven't heard his version.
  rakerman | Nov 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andersson, StefanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahlgren, LeifTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nikupaavola, RenneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oca, Aleida Lama Montes deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waldegrave, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wannenmacher, JuttaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mary, with love
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At first dawn the swathes of rain drifting eastwards across the Channel parted long enough to show that the chase had altered course.
'As for mutinies in general,' said Stephen, 'I am all in favour of 'em. You take men from their homes or their chosen professions, you confine them in insalubrious conditions upon a wholly inadequate diet, you subject them to the tyranny of bosun's mates, you expose them to unimagined perils; what is more, you defraud them of their meagre food, pay and allowances -- everything but this sacred rum of yours. Had I been at Spithead, I should certainly have joined the mutineers. Indeed, I am astonished at their moderation.'
     'Pray, Stephen, do not speak like this, nattering about the service; it makes me so very low. I know things are not perfect, but I cannot reform the world and run a man-of-war. In any case, be candid, and think of the Sophie -- think of any happy ship.'
     'There are such things, sure; but they depend upon the whim, the digestion and the virtue of one or two men, and that is iniquitous. I am opposed to authority, that egg of misery and oppression; I am opposed to it largely for what it does to those who exercise it.'
'I cannot tell you what a relief it is,' he said, bending to see whether the Amethyst's forestaysail were drawing, 'to be at sea. It is so clear and simple. I do not mean just escaping from the bums; I mean all the complications of life on shore. I do not think I am well suited to the land.' [Aubrey]
This morning, when I was walking beside the coach as it laboured up Ports Down Hill and I came to the top, with all Portsmouth harbour suddenly spread below me, and Gosport, Spithead and perhaps half the Channel Fleet glittering there - a powerful squadron moving out past Haslar in line ahead, all studdingsails abroad - I felt a longing for the sea. It has a great cleanliness. There are moments when everything on land seems to me tortuous, dark and squalid; though to be sure, squalor is not lacking aboard a man-of-war. [Maturin's diary]
A foolish German had said that man thought in words. It was totally false; a pernicious doctrine; the thought flashed into being in a hundred simultaneous forms, with a thousand associations, and the speaking mind selected one, forming it grossly into the inadequate symbols of words, inadequate because common to disparate situations - admitted to be inadequate for vast regions of expression, since for them there were the parallel languages of music and painting. Words were not called for in many or indeed most forms of thought: Mozart certainly thought in terms of music. He himself at this moment was thinking in terms of scent. [Maturin musing in an opera box]
[Before an impending gun exercise:] Mrs Miller had been desired to step down into the hold, with a midshipman bearing a handful of cushions to show her the way: asked if she minded a bang, had replied, ’Oh no, I love it.’
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In 1803, Napoleon smashes the Peace of Amiens, and Captain Jack Aubrey, R.N., taking refuge in France from his creditors, is interned. He escapes from France, from debtor's prison, and from a possible mutiny and pursues his quarry straight into the mouth of a French held harbor.

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Average: (4.12)
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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393307069, 0393037029

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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