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Treason's Harbour (1983)

by Patrick O'Brian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (9)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,339314,798 (4.19)50
All of Patrick O'Brian's strengths are on parade in this novel of action and intrigue, set partly in Malta, partly in the treacherous, pirate-infested waters of the Red Sea. While Captain Aubrey worries about repairs to his ship, Stephen Maturin assumes the center stage, for the stockyards and salons of Malta are alive with Napoleon's agents and the admiralty's intelligence networks is compromised. Maturin's cunning is the sole bulwark against sabotage of Aubrey's daring mission.… (more)
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English (26)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  Czech (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Book 9 in Patrick O'Brian's series of sea stories featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and ship's doctor and part-time spy Stephen Maturin. In this one, they go after a potentially incredibly valuable prize and deal with some issues of compromised intelligence.

You know, it sometimes occurs to me to think that either O'Brian knows nothing about pacing or just does not care, and this volume is very much a case in point. Rambling conversations about nothing relevant go on for pages while dramatic moments where plot-critical things are happening are sometimes passed over very quickly. And yet somehow, at his best, he makes that work for him. And as far as I'm concerned, it definitely worked for him here. This was kind of slow, and not all that exciting, but doggone it, I found it just terribly pleasant, somehow, as I sat there reading it in my living room on a series of lovely spring days, imagining the desert breeze wafting in through my windows might at any moment start bringing me the scent of the ocean and feeling content with my life of not being shot at by the French. ( )
  bragan | Apr 10, 2021 |
A bit of a curate's egg in that whilst it had the excellent characterisation, the realism, the evocative prose of all Aubrey/Maturin novels not a lot happened. The overall story of Aubrey and Maturin did not progress very much. But then I would guess it was often like that. ( )
  malcrf | Dec 28, 2020 |
It was a while since I last read an Aubrey & Maturin book but I've had this one on my to-read for too long. I did not enjoy it much though. It was ok, but there was too much text about nothing and too little text about actions.

The background is that Aubrey and Maturin are stranded on Malta, waiting for repairs of Aubrey's ship(s) or a new command. Malta is awash with rumors about what is going on and is a haven for French spies, and double agents. Since Maturin's cover is long blown he becomes the target of an operation and from there we go.

Maturin also acquires a diving bell. That is fun for him.

The completionist in me could not skip this book, but I probably should have. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Treason’s Harbour, Patrick O’Brian’s ninth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, sees picks up shortly after the events of The Ionian Mission, with Captain Jack Aubrey refitting the HMS Surprise at Malta and Dr. Stephen Maturin working to maintain his cover as an intelligence agent amid a shake-up in the Mediterranean command and a Malta teeming with French spies. Aubrey undertakes three missions throughout the region, each time finding his missions foiled by the French intelligence networks’ advance knowledge of his missions from Malta. Stephen, meanwhile, tests out his diving bell, based on Edmond Halley’s design, and works to surreptitiously hamper the French spy networks’ efforts without further jeopardizing himself. The Surprise, nearly a recurring character in her own right prior to this, takes on a special significance when Admiral Ives informs Aubrey that she is to return to England to be sold out of the service, leading Aubrey to carefully contemplate the ship and her crew on their various missions. In a series of flashbacks, O’Brian explores Captain Aubrey’s examination to become a lieutenant.

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. A great contribution to the Aubrey-Maturin series and the third of twelve to focus on what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these dozen books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Sep 16, 2018 |
Uomini di mare, ma non solo

Inizia in maniera che non ci si aspetta. Si è a terra. Ed il mare? Il mare dov'è? Siamo a La Valletta, all'arsenale, termine sinonimo oggi di "cantiere" e la nave del capitano Aubrey è in riparazione. C'è un gran fermento: un capitano è passato a miglior vita ed inizia la bagarre per riempire quel vuoto e, come tutti, anche Jack Aubrey spera di coronare il sogno di una vita. La prossima missione potrebbe essere una buona chance di mettersi in mostra, ma il mare è ancora lungi da vedersi. La nave affidatagli per la missione si trova alla foce del Nilo e bisognerà attraversare un mare ben diverso dal solito per giungervi: il deserto. Giunti fra pericoli, miraggi e superstizioni sul Nilo, la faccenda si complica. Una inaspettata trama spionistica si aggiunge alle molteplici serpeggianti per tutto il racconto. Ricatti, fughe, falsi amori e vere passioni porteranno a bordo una donna che fugge da un ricatto. Incredibile come sia raccontata l'influenza positiva dell'elemento femminile a bordo: gl uomini rigano dritto, si presta attenzione al linguaggio e alla cura dell'abbigliamento tanto che il comandante riflette su come sarebbe positiva una presenza (breve e con cambi di persona continui) di una donna a bordo. Una volta cannoneggiamenti, duelli, battaglie dove il comandante Aubrey può finalmente esprimere tutta la sua esperienza grazie anche ad un equipaggio che stima essere il migliore di tutta la flotta inglese, se non il migliore di tutte le marine. Non era facile la vita a bordo a quei tempi. Gli imbarcati erano per lo più uomini che a terra non avevano nulla cui tornare: orfani, delinquenti, schiavi che, a tenerli insieme e a farli rigare dritto, non bastavano punizioni, frustate e giri di chiglia. Ma l'equipaggio di Jack Aubrey è leggermente diverso: uomini scelti, affiatati dalle tante missioni in cui hanno potuto rinsaldare la reciproca conoscenza, uomini che portano rispetto e si lasciano guidare da un comandante che non è come gli altri. Jack Aubrey è un buon comandante, non ama punire i suoi uomini se non in casi estremi, concede loro quello che si aspettano e ripaga con una giusta ricompensa, con la gloria e combattimenti senza quartiere. Un'altra avventura fantastica (per gli amanti del genere e dei diportisti assatanati come me) che continua a far sognare. Ufficiali che conoscevano almeno 3 lingue, intessevano pubbliche relazioni, si occupavano di rapporti commerciali, sapevano calcolare rotte, velocità, conoscevano la meteorologia, i venti ed i fondali ad occhi chiusi e sapevano gestire tempeste e pezzi di artiglieria nonchè i marinai ed il clima a bordo... sarà pure stata dura, a quei tempi, a bordo, ma chapeau! (solo 4 stelle per il solito finale "mozzo" di O'Brian... neanche non sapesse come finire il libro... mah!)
  Magrathea | Dec 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick O'Brianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Šimonová, JanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wannenmacher, JuttaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Smoothe runnes the Water, where the Brooke is deepe,
And in his simple shew he harbours Treason.
(2 Henry VI)
Dedication
Mariae sacrum.
First words
A gentle breeze from the north-west after a night of rain, and the washed sky over Malta had a particular quality in its light that sharpened the lines of the noble buildings, bringing out all the virtue of the stone; the air too was a delight to breathe, and the city of Valletta was as cheerful as though it were fortunate in love or as thought it had suddenly heard good news.
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All of Patrick O'Brian's strengths are on parade in this novel of action and intrigue, set partly in Malta, partly in the treacherous, pirate-infested waters of the Red Sea. While Captain Aubrey worries about repairs to his ship, Stephen Maturin assumes the center stage, for the stockyards and salons of Malta are alive with Napoleon's agents and the admiralty's intelligence networks is compromised. Maturin's cunning is the sole bulwark against sabotage of Aubrey's daring mission.

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393308634, 0393037096

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