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The Fortune of War (1979)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (6)

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2,723373,934 (4.15)46
In this sixth volume of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, Captain Aubrey and Maturin take passage for England to assume command.

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English (33)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The Fortune of War is the sixth book in the series and with the exception of a few pages at the beginning of it Jack doesn't command a ship. Similarly unlike most if not all of the previous books the voyage doesn't start from England. Instead it virtually starts straight where Desolation Island (the preceding novel)ended and just before war has broken out between Britain and America.

The book features a wrecked ship, two naval battles,one successful, one not (as far as Jack ad Stephen are concerned, a long distance open boat voyage with thirst and a touch of cannibalism thrown in, a little spying and a daring escape. Perhaps it's the fact that with Jack not in command meaning that Stephen is more to the fore or maybe because America are the enemies rather than the French or the Spanish but whatever it is, it has a very different feel from the previous novels. It appears like a different kind of war in any case.

Not only does the timeline follow straight on from Desolation Island but also (for want of a better word) the villain of that particular book, Louisa Wogan, makes a reappearance. Therefore this probably wouldn't be a good place to start the series or to try as a taster. But for those who are working their way through the series it is interesting to see the results of the poisoned intelligence that Stephen fed Wogan and the deep water it lands him and Jack in as a consequence.

I must admit that there are some interesting elements to this book, some terrific writing and I rather liked the fact that it breaks from the pattern of the earlier books but it also felt like the sea that our heroes are sailing on, it had some peaks and troughs. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 23, 2021 |
Very good examples of backstory covered naturally and all kept interesting despite a sea battle being a sea battle in 22 books. Excellent series.
James-MEOW Date: Sunday, July 8. 12014 H.E. (Holocene Era) ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
Very good examples of backstory covered naturally and all kept interesting despite a sea battle being a sea battle in 22 books. Excellent series.
James-MEOW Date: Sunday, July 8. 12014 H.E. (Holocene Era) ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Just excellent, I can't fault it. Great storyline, evocative, but efficient prose, fully fleshed out characters, more plot twists than you get in many books of twice the length. ( )
  malcrf | Feb 15, 2019 |
The Fortune of War , Patrick O'Brian's sixth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after where Desolation Island left off, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin aboard the Leopard as the badly damaged ship limps into port at Pulo Batang.

From there, Aubrey, Matuin, and some of their shipmates board the La Flèche to return to England. Along the way, La Flèche burns and all hands abandon ship, with the HMS Java later rescuing Aubrey and Maturin. This rescue enables O’Brian to dramatize the United States’ entry into the war and the subsequent battle between Java and the USS Constitution, in which the Constitution emerged victorious. From there, Aubrey and Maturin find themselves prisoners of war in Boston, where O’Brian examines the political climate in America around the War of 1812. The American and French authorities suspect Aubrey and Maturin of espionage, necessitating their quick escape aboard the HMS Shannon and its eventual battle with the USS Chesapeake.

Like his previous novels, O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic War in 1812, even discussing the political debates in the United States over the wisdom of the war. Further, he masterfully recreates the curious relationships between sailors after an engagement, focusing on the little civilities. As one character says, “We are all subject to the fortune of war” (pg. 122). For those who delight in O’Brian’s turns of phrase, the weevil pun made famous in Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World first appears in this novel (pg. 43). This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes. A great contribution to the Aubrey-Maturin series and the last to follow a strict chronology as the next dozen books take place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. ( )
1 vote DarthDeverell | Aug 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waldegrave, WilliamContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiberg, CarlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mary, with love.
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When history and fiction intertwine, the reader may well like to know how far the recorded facts have suffered from the embrace.

Author's note.
The warm monsoon blew gently from the east, wafting HMS Leopard into the bay of Pulo Batang.

Chapter one.
It is with a certain reluctance that I write about myself, in the first place because such an exercise is very rarely successful, and even when it is, the man does not often coincide with his books, which, if the Platonic 'not who but what' is to be accepted, are the only legitimate objects of curiosity.

Black, Choleric & Married?, by Patrick O'Brian.
'Wallis,' said Maturin, 'I am happy to see you. How is your penis?'
Two weevils crept from the crumbs. 'You see those weevils, Stephen?' said Jack solemnly.
'I do.'
'Which would you choose?'
'There is not a scrap of difference. Arcades ambo. They are the same species of curculio, and there is nothing to choose between them.'
'But suppose you had to choose?'
'Then I should choose the right-hand weevil; it has a perceptible advantage in both length and breadth.'
'There I have you,' cried Jack. 'You are bit -- you are completely dished. Don't you know that in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils? Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!' [43]
'Oh dear, oh dear,' said Mr Evans. 'I seem fated to move from one blunder to another today. I shall hold my tongue for what remains of it.'
'Where would conversation be, if we were not allowed to exchange our minds freely and to abuse our neighbours from time to time?' said Stephen. [124]
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In this sixth volume of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, Captain Aubrey and Maturin take passage for England to assume command.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393308138, 0393037061

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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