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The Yellow Admiral (1996)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (18)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,370226,635 (4.09)43
Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey in The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O'Brian's best-selling novel and eighteenth volume in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the Admiralty by his erratic voting as a Member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong Navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour: in the storm waters off Brest he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but this at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and this feeds into Jack's private fears for his career. Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie's forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.… (more)
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» See also 43 mentions

English (19)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Not the best ever but still filled with the irresistible Aubrey, Maturin, Killick, Sophie and Diana and a very curmudgeonly Admiral who makes Aubrey’s life miserable. Only two left! ( )
  brook11trout | May 6, 2023 |
Another pretty good one in the series. Jack has wife problems and develops a bad reputation in the Navy with officials. Coastal duty off France and one good prize. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
18th book in a series that has been fantastic book after book. Love how O'Brian captures the verisimilitude of the times. ( )
  jimgosailing | Nov 18, 2021 |
These books just seem to get better and better. I dread reaching the end of the series. I wish they could go on forever, but alas, nothing does. ( )
  GratzFamily | Sep 17, 2020 |
The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O’Brian’s eighteenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Commodore, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin having returned from disrupting the slave trade off the Ivory coast and now taking part in the Brest blockade to prevent Napoleon’s naval forces from rallying while Napoleon’s fortunes falter at land. Like many of O’Brian’s novels, the story shows the fickle nature of fortune, with Jack stuck in legal proceedings concerning some of the prizes he took off Africa. He also worries about the possibility of being yellowed. That is, promoted to flag rank but without a squadron. It remains a possibility because of politics and a dispute regarding enclosure with a neighbor, the heir of one of the admirals.

While on the Brest blockade aboard the HMS Bellona, Jack receives worse news that his mother-in-law found papers from an indiscreet affair he had in Canada during book seven, The Surgeon’s Mate. She gave these letters to Sophie, his wife, who is enraged and plans to leave him. Stephen also worries about his fortune, as the Spanish authorities seek to confiscate it for his part in supporting Peruvian independence during The Wine-Dark Sea, which leaves he and his wife, Diana, in dire straits. Fortunately, events begin to change when Diana and Clarissa Oakes intervene with Sophie. Stephen receives word that his fortune is preserved and, though connections with Sir Joseph Blaine, arranges a way for Jack to distinguish himself should peace break out, thereby making it possible for him to advance without being yellowed. As the novel nears its end, Napoleon is defeated and exiled to Elba. The Brest blockade returns to port for paying off and Stephen helps Jack to secure a new position doing hydrographical work while also advancing the cause of independence in Chile. They ready the Surprise, bringing their families for a cruise to Madeira where they will meet the Chilean operatives. While enjoying a brief vacation, Jack receives word that Napoleon has escaped and that he has been reinstated to blockade the Straits of Gibraltar.

At times, The Yellow Admiral feels very much like an interim novel, but it does have some great character development which is one of O’Brian’s strengths, particularly as readers are devoted to these characters by this point. The focus on fortune’s fickle nature is a recurrent theme in the series and works well here, with a midshipman’s death perfectly demonstrating its power for sailors. O’Brian also does a good job capturing the changing times, with enclosure altering the countryside and the commons. Fans who have made it this far will find the material they expect from O’Brian, including some nice puns. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes and maps on the endpapers to help readers visualize the geography of the Brest coastline. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Apr 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Brian, PatrickAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antón, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kann, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mary, with love
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Sir Joseph Blaine, a heavy, yellow-faced man in a suit of grey clothes and a flannel waist-coat, walked down St James's Street, across the park, and so to the Admiralty, which he entered from behind, opening the private door with a key and making his way to the large, shabby room in which he had his official being.

Chapter one.
We have gathered here together, thanks to the splendid initiative of Max Hastings and the Evening Standard, to celebrate and to honour one of the greatest storytellers in the English language.

'Speech at the Painted Hall, Greenwich' by William Waldegrave.
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Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey in The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O'Brian's best-selling novel and eighteenth volume in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the Admiralty by his erratic voting as a Member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong Navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour: in the storm waters off Brest he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but this at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and this feeds into Jack's private fears for his career. Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie's forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

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