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The Far Side of the World (1984)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (10)

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3,016313,321 (4.22)57
The War of 1812 continues, and Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission after his own heart: intercepting a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. Stephen Maturin has orders of his own in the world of secret intelligence. Disaster in various guises awaits them in the Great South Sea and in the far reaches of the Pacific: typhoons, castaways, shipwrecks, murder, and criminal insanity.… (more)

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English (27)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
The tenth Aubrey/Maturin novel sees O'Brian on top form, probably because the action never gets further from the sea than the top of Gibralter Rock and also because The Surprise is sailed into waters new to her, allowing novelty of description and incident.
O'Brian's unique style and depth of characterisation, along with convincing dialogue and wealth of detail are all present and mixed with a story that never gets be-calmed make this a book that easily transcends genre.

Only ten more volumes of the series to go.... ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Excellent social commentary well-couched, with very well distinguished voices. ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
Excellent social commentary well-couched, with very well distinguished voices. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
The Far Side of The World, Patrick O’Brian’s tenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of Treason’s Harbour, with Captain Jack Aubrey tasked to take the HMS Surprise into the whaling waters around Cape Horn to protect British whalers from the USS Norfolk, tasked by the American Navy to harry British industry in those waters. Dr. Stephen Maturin, meanwhile, longs to see the natural specimens unique to that environment, particularly those of the Galapagos Islands, though, as Jack reminds him, the promise to stop there is “subject to the requirements of the service” (pg. 216). O’Brian also uses the novel to further explore the peculiarities of life at sea, including the belief in a Jonah, the intrigues that sailors – and, in certain circumstances, their wives – get up to, and the alternating existence between predation and ease. The extensive summary of whaling recalls Melville’s Moby Dick and, in his Author’s Note, O’Brian admits to cribbing William Hickey’s description of a storm’s first aspect as he felt Hickey’s “words did not seem capable of improvement” (pg. ix).

This same note is where O’Brian first explicitly acknowledged that this novel exists outside the normal flow of time – this novel being the fourth of twelve to exist in what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these dozen books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. Like his previous novels, O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic War in 1812, using Aubrey’s nostalgia at the coming retirement of the Surprise to view the life aboard ship, particularly aboard this idealized ship, through rose-colored glasses and with a sentimentality that will delight his readers. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes. This novel leant its title to Peter Weir’s 2003 adaptation of the series, which borrowed elements from multiple books, including Master and Commander, HMS Surprise, The Letter of Marque, and The Fortune of War. ( )
1 vote DarthDeverell | Oct 1, 2018 |
Captain Aubrey of the British Royal Navy is sent to the South Seas to prevent the American frigate Norfolk from harassing English whalers. It's an excellent book all around, but there are moments of pure perfection in it. The prim parson Martin shows Maturin the letter he wants to woo his lady-love with, it's horrifyingly bad, Maturin tries to tell him so as gently as possible, and Martin completely refuses to hear it. Or at one point Maturin falls out of the cabin window while Aubrey is talking. Aubrey immediately realizes what happens and, without a moment's hesitation, dives in after him, for Maturin is so uncoordinated that he could drown in only an inch of water. Later, upon finding entering the cabin and finding both Aubrey and Maturin missing, their shipmate immediately knows that Maturin fell out of the ship and Aubrey went after him. And of course the ending is basically the best ending of all endings in the entire world. In order to secure the shipwrecked Norfolk's people, Captain Aubrey lands his gig on a small island surrounded by reefs and dangerous tides. The tides mean he can't get back to the Surprise that night, and in the morning he can't see the ship at all. The Norfolk crew assures him that the Surprise has definitely wrecked, and Aubrey is afraid they're right. At least a week goes by without sighting any ship, but then he sees an American whaler coming toward the island. Aubrey knows that if the whaler picks them up, he and his men will be imprisoned, and so he works at brutal speed to get his little gig sea-worthy. But the Norfolk's men destroy his gig at the last moment (I was so angry at this point I was practically weeping with rage), and Aubrey is without hope. The whaler is close enough to hail--and THEN! STUFF HAPPENS! VERY EXCITING STUFF!

I will note that this book contains Maturin once again refusing to help a woman have an abortion. It's a particularly bad situation because he's pretty sure that her sterile husband will kill her once he finds she's pregnant. And lo and behold, her husband does indeed kill her. Your principles sure did help, huh Maturin? If the vaunted spy-master really wanted to save lives, surely he could have come up with SOMETHING besides just letting this teenager go back to her abusive husband and waiting till he kills her. He couldn't come up with a medical lie, like she's suffering from dropsy? Or ask his "particular friend" Captain Aubrey to put the abusive husband on a treasure ship or something? gah! My frustration with him was mitigated somewhat when, later in the novel, he goes on a several minute tirade about how shitty the patriarchy is for women. But still. Maturin, get your shit together. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oca, Aleida Lama Montes deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiberg, CarlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Wolcott Gibbs Jr., who first encouraged these tales.
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'Pass the word for Captain Aubrey, pass the word for Captain Aubrey,' cried a sequence of voices, at first dim and muffled far aft on the flagship's maindeck, then growing louder and more distinct as the call wafted up to the quarterdeck and so along the gangway to the forecastle, where Captain Aubrey stood by the starboard thirty-two-pounder carronade contemplating the Emperor of Morocco's purple galley as it lay off Jumper's Bastion with the vast grey and tawny Rock of Gibraltar soaring behind it, while Mr Blake, once a puny member of his midshipman's berth but now a tall, stout lieutenant almost as massive as his former captain, explained the new carriage he had invented, a carriage that should enable carronades to fire twice as fast, with no fear of oversetting, twice as far, and with perfect accuracy, thus virtually putting an end to war.
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The War of 1812 continues, and Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission after his own heart: intercepting a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. Stephen Maturin has orders of his own in the world of secret intelligence. Disaster in various guises awaits them in the Great South Sea and in the far reaches of the Pacific: typhoons, castaways, shipwrecks, murder, and criminal insanity.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393308626, 039303710X

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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