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Acclaim for the work of Patrick O'Brian


"The best historical novels ever written."—Richard Snow, The New York Times


MASTER AND COMMANDER

"The best sea story I have ever read."—Sir Francis Chichester, on Master and Commander

"Re-creates with delightful subtlety, the flavor of life aboard a midget British man-of-war plying the western Mediterranean in the year 1800, a year of indecisive naval skirmishes with France and Spain. Even for a reader not especially interested in matters nautical, the author's easy command of the philosophical, political, sensual and social temper of the times flavors a rich entertainment."—Martin Levin, New York Times Book Review, on Master and Commander

"A welcome treat for sea hounds."—Kirkus Reviews, on Master and Commander

"The battle scenes are tremendous...This is not secondhand Forester, but a really fine piece of writing."—Sunday Mirror [London], on Master and Commander

"Dashing, well-timbered, pickled in the period, and with strong human tensions and cross-currents, this is probably the best of many good novels about Nelson's navy since the loss of C. S. Forester. Certainly Aubrey, with his hangovers and impulses the extrovert antithesis of Hornblower, is a hero one hopes to hear more of."—Benedict Nightingale, The Observer, on Master and Commander

"It is as though, under Mr. O'Brian's touch, those great sea-paintings at Greenwich had stirred and come alive."—Tom Pocock, Evening Standard [London] , on Master and Commander


POST CAPTAIN

"One of the finest seafaring novels of the Napoleonic wars."—R. W., Taranaki Herald (New Zealand), on Post Captain

"Master and Commander raised almost dangerously high expectations, Post Captain triumphantly surpasses them. Mr. O'Brian is a master of his period, in which his characters are finely placed, while remaining three-dimensional, thoroughly human beings. This book sets him at the very top of his genre; he does not just have the chief qualifications of a first-class historical novelist, he has them all. The actions scenes are superb; towards the end, far from being aware that one is reading what is, physically, a fairly long book, one notes with dismay that there is not much more to come....A brilliant book."—Mary Renault, on Post Captain


HMS SURPRISE

"Few, very few, books have made my heart thud with excitement. H. M. S. Surprise managed it. I read it cruising through the tame Adriatic, and several times found myself forced to pace about the deck to calm my pulse....Patrick O'Brian's erudition is phenomenal, as is his capacity for creating another completely believable world. He convinces with his total accuracy even in tiny details."—Helen Lucy Burke, Irish Press, on H. M. S. Surprise

"His books can absorb and enthrall landlubbers like myself who do not even know the different between a jib-boom and a taffrail."—Valerine Webster, The Scotsman, on H. M. S. Surprise

"The language is just right, with a full late eighteenth-century weightiness that is still free from any trace of strain or affectation....In their own field, that of the adventure story which remains faithful in its feeling for place and period, I don't see that one could wish for anything better than Mr. O'Brian's sea stories."—Julian Symons, Sunday Times [London], on H. M. S. Surprise

"He has an absolute command of the period, down to the smallest detail in a description or the appropriate idiom in a conversation or a letter....Lest I traduce the book, I must quickly add that it is also a thundering good read."—Roy Palmer, Teacher, on H. M. S. Surprise


THE MAURITIUS COMMAND

"Jack's assignment: to capture the Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius from the French. That campaign forms the narrative thread of this rollicking sea saga. But its substance is more beguiling still..."—Elizabeth Peer, Newsweek, on The Mauritius Command

"Shot through with unobtrusive culture and period texture that flows like a serenade."—Kirkus Reviews, on The Mauritius Command

"Taken together, the novels are a brilliant achievement. They display staggering erudition on almost all aspects of early nineteenth century life, with impeccable period detail....[Compared to Forester's characters] Aubrey and Maturin are subtler, richer items; in addition Patrick O'Brian has a gift for the comic which Forester lacks.—T. J. Binyon, Times Literary Supplement, on The Mauritius Command


DESOLATION ISLAND

"The relationship [between Aubrey and Maturin]...is about the best thing afloat....For Conradian power of description and sheer excitement there is nothing in naval fiction to beat the stern chase as the outgunned Leopard staggers through mountain waves in icy latitudes to escape the Dutch seventy-four."—Stephen Vaughan, The Observer, on Desolation Island

"Good history, fascinating erudition, espionage, romance, fever in the hold, a wreck in lost latitudes, and an action at sea that for sheer descriptive power can match anything in sea fiction."—Christopher Wordsworth, The Guardian, on Desolation Island


THE FORTUNE OF WAR

"A marvelously full-flavoured, engrossing book, which towers over its current rivals in the genre like a three-decker over a ship's longboat."—T. J. Binyon, Times Literary Supplement, on The Fortune of War

"A new Jack Aubrey, whose annual appearances are now rated, quite justifiably, a literary event..."—Frank Peters, Northern Echo, on The Fortune of War

"No one else writing in the genre today can match his erudition, humour, inventiveness and falir."—Kevin Myers, Sunday Independent [Dublin], on The Fortune of War


THE SURGEON'S MATE

"Vividly detailed 19th-century settings and dramatic tension punctuated with flashes of wry humor make O'Brian's nautical adventure a splendid treat."—Publishers Weekly, on The Surgeon's Mate

"Splendid adventures...polished, historically accurate, and intensely pleasurable."—Kirkus Reviews, on The Surgeon's Mate

"Even for people like me who skip the sea-battles, it's excellent entertainment."—Phyllida Barswtor, Sunday Telegraph [London], on The Surgeon's Mate

"And whaur's your Hornblower noo?"—Frank Peters, Northern Echo, on The Surgeon's Mate


THE IONIAN MISSION

"O'Brian is one author who can put a spark of character into the sawdust of time, and The Ionian Mission is another rattling good yarn. Cemented over the years and across the seven seas by good writing, and good humour, the friendship between surgeon and intelligence agent Maturin and that lion in action and ass ashore Jack Aubrey, may yet rank with Athos/d'Artagnan or Holmes/Watson as part of the permanent literature of adventure."—Stephen Vaughan, The Observer

"O'Brian has chosen to set his novels in the early 19th century, and to use the genre of the historical novel to say something important and interesting not only about the times, but about a set of passionate human beings. Those who dismiss the historical novel as a piece of pish-tushery should recollect that Tolstoy's War and Peace was also a historical novel."—Helen Lucy Burke, Irish Press, on The Ionian Mission

"Splendid adventures at a stately pace."—Kirkus Reviews, on The Ionian Mission


TREASON'S HARBOUR

"The best thing afloat since Horatio Hornblower."—Stephen Vaughan, The Observer, on Treason's Harbour


THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD

"Some of you...have never read a Patrick O'Brian novel. I beseech you to start now. Start with Master and Commander, which should be available in paperback from your nearest bookseller. And if he—or she—does not have a copy, then beat the wretched fellow."—Kevin Myers, Irish Times

THE REVERSE OF THE MEDAL

"An overwhelming, outstanding novel...!"—Irish Times, on The Reverse of the Medal

"Marvelously delicate and humorous fantasies set in Napoleon's day....The effect is as light a bubbles at the brim, stimulating, tender, throught-provoking."—John Bayley, London Review of Books, on The Reverse of the Medal




THE LETTER OF MARQUE

"A first rate tale of the sea....I read it with absorption and satisfaction."—Robertson Davies, on The Letter of Marque

"The Letter of Marque is both serious and light-hearted, true and sentimental, as comic opera can be."—Peter Campbell, London Review of Books

"Fine stuff...leaves the devotee of naval fiction eager for sequels."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World, on The Letter of Marque


THE THIRTEEN GUN SALUTE

"[T]he ultimate appeal of the Aubrey/Maturin adventures lies in O'Brian's delicious old-fashioned prose, the wonderfully complex sentences that capture the feel of the sea and the culture of the great warships, all the while sketching with apparent accuracy and truth the early- 19th-century world."—Kirkus Reviews, on The Thirteen Gun Salute

"These eccentric, improbable novels seem to have been written by Patrick O'Brian to please himself in the first instance, and thereafter to please those readers who may share his delight in precision of language, odd lands and colors, a humane respect for such old-fashioned sentiments as friendship and honor. Like Aubrey and Maturin playing Mozart duets beneath a Pacific moon, he works elegant variations on the tradition of the seafaring adventure story."—Thomas Flanagan, New York Times Book Review


THE NUTMEG OF CONSOLATION

"Witty, literate, and engaging—as Aubrey himself might say, 'capital work indeed.'—Kirkus Reviews, on The Nutmeg of Consolation


THE TRUELOVE

"What lifts The Truelove into the highest ranks of fiction is what it shares with the rest of its author's writing: page after page of unmistakably original insights into the mysteries of the world."—Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune, on The Truelove

"Combines adventure and the art of the novel with an astonishing finesse."—Francis Spufford, The Independent, on The Truelove

"To compare even the best of his predecessors to him is to compare good straightforward table wine with the complexity and the elegance of great Bordeaux....Though each book is essentially self-contained, the Aubrey/Maturin series is better thought of as a single multi-volume novel, that, far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart."—Ken Ringle, Washington Post, on The Truelove


THE WINE-DARK SEA

"The pleasures of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels defy enumeration. From the first (Master and Commander) to this latest, these are books that offer the reader both sensual and intellectual enjoyment, the pleasures of immensely stylish writing as well as the pleasures of engagement with an author who is moralist, naturalist, and naval historian into the bargain....Meticulously researched and heart-stoppingly vivid....Fe books boast the richly imagined central figures of these tales, or place them in such deeply researched settings."—Alan Ryan, Washington Post Book World, front page review of The Wine-Dark Sea

"The same tantalizing guile and sublime skill....[The series is] reinforced in its claim to be one of the major literary works of this century....Only two other writers that this reviewer can think of have each created an entire, discrete and compelling world, a totally believable entity which one might wish to inhabit, and they are Joyce and Proust. It is not pretentious to place Patrick O'Brian in the first canon of literature...."—Kevin Myers, Irish Times, on The Wine-Dark Sea

"Through the Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin books can be profitably read separately, as fans knows, together they read as one long, wonderful novel. This 16th installment is no doubt the best chapter yet."—Publishers Weekly, on The Wine-Dark Sea

"I suspect that more than a few newcomers will emerge from The Wine-Dark Sea aficionados, determined to master Mr. O Brian's entire chronicle....It will be a long voyage—but it is hard to imagine better shipmates [than Aubrey and Maturin]."—Thomas Fleming, New York Times Book Review, on The Wine-Dark Sea

"The action scenes, battles, chases, storms, shipwrecks are brilliantly described in vivid and impeccable prose. The romantic passages, the erudite descriptions of flora and fauna throughout the world, the humour and general atmosphere of enlightened civilization are all remarkable. But above all it is the characters who make these stories unique...This saga, which, I ardently hope, is still a long way from its end, already adds up to one of the greatest achievements of contemporary fiction."—Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph [London], on The Wine-Dark Sea


THE COMMODORE

"The Commodore is so satisfying...because it is crowded with so many different kinds of pleasures. O'Brian's genius is in his ability to arrange all this material upon the well-constructed frame of an adventure plot....A lyric poet working in the epic form."—John Ferguson, Boston Sunday Globe "The Commodore is...full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein....[O'Brian's] marine description is indeed ravishing; his battles are nail-bitingly tense....It is a brilliantly imagined world that one scarcely wishes ever to leave....Patrick O'Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic Wars."—James Hamilton-Paterson, The New Republic, on The Commodore

"The acclaim that Patrick O'Brian's prodigious 17-title, nineteenth-century seafaring sequence is receiving must eventually make its two central characters—the sea captain and his ship's surgeon—one of the most memorable literary double acts of the twentieth century. With great justification, too, for this novel sequence is not only a miraculously sustained effort but it is also evidence of a refined literary sensibility and one of the best and most authentic historical time machines I have ever encountered. "—William Boyd, on The Commodore

"O'Brian's tales offer many pleasures: complex, intriguing plots; strong relationships (particularly the friendship of Aubrey and Maturin) and colorful supporting characters; rich historical detail; brisk description of ships and their rigging and weather and its effects. "—Mary Carroll, Booklist, on The Commodore


THE YELLOW ADMIRAL

"Fans of O'Brian's previous novels will find themselves well rewarded."—Brian McCombie, Booklist, on The Yellow Admiral

"The Yellow Admiral is a worthy addition to the saga....You will emerge from this series...thoroughly accustomed to a prose style of such spare elegance and precision that most over novels will seem overwritten."—William J. Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in The Wall Street Journal

"O'Brian is at the top of his elegant form here. He offers...characters who are palpable real and, as always, lapidary prose. This is splendid storytelling from a true master."—Publishers Weekly starred review of The Yellow Admiral


THE HUNDRED DAYS

"O'Brian's prose is always a deep pleasure to read....Each new book is a visit from very old and dear friends....Another book: it can't come too soon. "— Neil Paulson, Denver Post, on The Hundred Days

"As always, O'Brian gives us a mixture of solid history and pure fancy, a gripping view of life in the Royal Navy, and lots of action told with an understated modesty that fits his characters perfectly....And don't fear. Napoleon may be defeated, but O'Brian promises the series will continue."— Alan Dumas, Denver Rocky Mountain News, on The Hundred Days

"[I]t is O'Brian's rendering of the internal lives of the characters—his loving and apt portrayal of their rich mix of feelings and experiences--that gives The Hundred Days distinction."—Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune, on The Hundred Days

"It is a measure of O'Brian's literary strengths that he drew his characters so well 30 years ago that, after all these decades of adventures, marriages, deaths, losses and triumphs, he has not had to redraw them significantly. His characters seem real, and he obviously delights in them....Fans probably could not say which ship was where during a particular battle or what studding sails are; most just enjoy the characters and their fortunes, which is what any novel is about, anyhow."—Dave Matheny, Minneapolis Star Tribune, on The Hundred Days

"As in the preceding novels, O'Brian plunges the reader into the life of the time. He writes in such a way that the greatest fan and the newest reader of his work can read comfortably at their level of interest. O'Brian's encyclopedic knowledge of an background in the wide scope of Enlightenment society gives readers many hooks to snare their fancy."—Frank Olson, Lexington Herald-Leader, on The Hundred Days

"Is The Hundred Days the nineteenth novel in the saga of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, or is it the nineteenth chapter in a single grand novel?...Should carry a Surgeon General's warning: To read any chapter is to experience instant addiction. We who have been eagerly anticipating Patrick O'Brian's next summons to sea can only envy first-time readers for the long voyage they will be beginning. "—George F. Will "The Hundred Days is classic O'Brian, with enough twists of plot and character to satisfy any reader."—Charles King, Castro Valley Forum, on The Hundred Days

"For the many fans of Patrick O'Brian the best news of the season is that there is another Aubrey/Maturin book to be devoured....The series has become a best-selling cult and deserves to be."—John Lee, Suffolk County News, on The Hundred Days

"O'Brian's latest sea saga is as fresh and compelling as Master and Commander, the novel that kicked off the series in 1970. That automatically elevates the author, whose knowledge of arcane sea matters is apparently inexhaustible, to an enviable height....[T]his one, like the author's earlier volumes in the series, is a first-class read. And if what I have written succeeds in adding other fans to O'Brian's ranks, the purpose of this review will be richly rewarded."— George H. Tucker, Virginian-Pilot on The Hundred Days

"You can almost feel the spray of the ocean....All the historical detail, classic melodrama and excitement O'Brian's legions of readers have come to expect are delivered with his characteristic verve."—David Kipen, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, on The Hundred Days

"The Hundred Days" may be the best installment yet in a stalwart series. I give O'Brian's fans joy of it and hope that other readers will be lucky enough to discover one of the best novelists since Jane Austen."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"O'Brian's brilliant device for making his works into more than naval history is, of course, his invention of dual heroes....This character mix works so well, and all is written so beautifully, that O'Brian's worldwide fans have come to expect a new novel every year. The Hundred Days is this season's offering, and there is no doubt the fans will like it."—The New York Times Book Review, on The Hundred Days

"The Hundred Days is certain to delight O'Brian's fans, for whom happiness is an unending stream of Aubrey/Maturin books....[It] is a fine novel that stands proudly on the shelf with the others."—Los Angeles Times

BLUE AT THE MIZZEN

"The old master has us again in the palm of his hand. Patrick O'Brian...has spun the 20th novel in his Aubrey/Maturin series, and a fine thing it is, gossamer in language, as always, and forceful in plot, character and action, as always....O'Brian takes us, intelligently and benignly, into a distant world and makes it come vibrantly alive."—Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times, on Blue at the Mizzen, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 1999

"O'Brian has presented his readers with a shining jewel. Blue at the Mizzen is an intricate, multifaceted work....There is nothing in this century that rivals Patrick O'Brian achievement in his chosen genre. His novels embrace with loving clarity the full richness of the 18th-century world. They embody the cruelty of battle, the comedy of men's lives, the uncertain fears that plague their hearts; and yet, not far away, is the vision of an ideal excistence."—Amanda Foreman, New York Times Book Review, on Blue at the Mizzen

"In the end, it is O'Brian's vision and his astonishing prose that keeps us reading him...[His style] is unique, possessing an 18th-century sensibility of restraint, a subversive Irish magic, and an elliptical austerity that is modernistic. It is sui generis and it is brilliant."—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe, on Blue at the Mizzen

"Filled with exuberance and humor, and a writer's palpable delight at exercising his finest muscles....At sea with a master."—Peter Nichols, San Francisco Chronicle, on Blue at the Mizzen

"I have feasted on all 20 of the Aubrey/Maturin novels with the same happy gluttony with which my 9-year-old daughter devours the Harry Potter novels."—John Casey, Washington Post, on Blue at the Mizzen

"After 20 novels, I want Stephen and Jack to go on and on...[O'Brian] has given us both a definition of noble character and a glimpse of a stretch of Western history—alternately revered and reviles, depending upon whom you ask—that at least wasn't dull. And for that, God bless him."—Rob Laymon, Philadelphia Inquirer, on Blue at the Mizzen

"In an era that likes adventure yarns, no books offer better adventures than these. But I don't think that's the main appeal; rather, as with all literature of the first rank, it is the exploration of human emotions that were the same in Napoleon's day as they are in ours. In O'Brian's characters—in their pleasures and humiliations, their triumphs and failures, their ludicrous moments and their heroic ones—we feel the vibrations of our own lives, and we come to cherish them as we do our friends."—Richard Snow, Wall Street Journal, on Blue at the Mizzen

"[Blue at the Mizzen] contains the usual blend of nautical detail and political intrigue, savage battles and naturalists' musings, all ratified by O'Brian's seemingly effortless ability to deploy the vocabulary and idioms of the time."—The New Yorker, on Blue at the Mizzen

"With bittersweet pleasure, readers may deem this...the best of the [series]....To use one of Stephen's favorite expressions, 'What joy!'"—Publishers Weekly starred review of Blue at the Mizzen

"O'Brian possesses a sly sense of humor and a great gift for characterization....[The Aubrey/Maturin novels] show, not for the first time, that storytelling can sometimes rise to the level of art."— Cleveland Plain Dealer, on Blue at the Mizzen

"O'Brian's style and ability to describe memorable characters and the glories of nature are just as strong as ever....[T]he reader will encounter some of the loveliest evocations of nature that O'Brian has ever penned."—Virginian-Pilot, on Blue at the Mizzen

"Volume 20 of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin sea tale has landed, and it will not disappoint his fans, who will happily be riveted....There are pages where you can feel the deck move underneath your feet, where you can see the sails billow above you and frame a blue sky. There are pages when Maturin's longing becomes palpable and Aubrey's ferocity as he boards an enemy ship with a cutlass in hand has you sitting bolt upright, startled....The book is another good one."—Denver Post, on Blue at the Mizzen

"Scuttlebutt has it that this twentieth tale of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin is the last. If so, they are sailing into their literary sunset on a high note....[Aubrey's] creator has long since earned the rank of admiral of the fleet on the seas of literature."— Roland Green, Booklist, on Blue at the Mizzen

"[A] work of genius."—J. W. Foster, BookPage, on Blue at the Mizzen


THE RENDEZVOUS AND OTHER STORIES

"Eloquent and elegant."—Kirkus Reviews

"O'Brian's prose is often beautiful and always impeccably crafted."—Publishers Weekly

"If a measure of good short fiction is its continuing ability to arrest attention, Mr. O'Brian's collection can surely be counted a success."—New York Times Book Review


TESTIMONIES

"A welcome reissue of O'Brian's moving and very fine first novel."—Kirkus Reviews, on Testimonies

"A rare and beautiful novel, deceptively modest in form, never faltering in the unobtrusive skill of its poetry and dramatic dimensions."—Pearl Kazin, New York Times Book Review, on Testimonies

"A subtle and fascinating tale."—Miami Herald, on Testimonies

"So many 'love stories' are written,; so little is told about love. Mr. O'Brian has set a text to learn from; he has also written one of the finest books to come along for some time."—Sylvia Stallings, New York Herald Tribune Book Review, on Testimonies

"O'Brian's greatness is present. Calmly and with wit he shows how things go wrong in little worlds."—Boston Globe, on Testimonies

"A triumph...drawn forward by lyric eloquence and the story's fascination, [the reader] discovers in the end that he has encountered in a new way the sphinx and the riddle of existence itself."—Delmore Schwartz, on Testimonies


THE GOLDEN OCEAN

"[O'Brian's] attention to period speech and detail is uncompromising, and while the cascades of nautical lore can be dizzying, both aficionados and newcomers will be swept up by the richness of Mr. O'Brian's prodigious imagination."—Scott Veale, New York Times Book Review, on The Golden Ocean



"[A] rousing novelistic retelling of a particularly colorful chapter in the history of the imperialist wars of the mid-18th century....Robust and exhilarating....[The] power [of the sea] as a kind of fate is rendered with the Conradian force that shows where O'Brian was headed as a narrative writer."—, Tom Clark, Los Angeles Times


THE UNKNOWN SHORE

"Here is an unexpected bonus: a precursor to the Aubrey/Maturin series...with all the charm of the author's mature works. And for those who have been daunted by the prospect of embarking on a 17-volume series, here is the perfect way to test the waters...It has the same elements that mark Mr. O'Brian's more recent works: the wealth of social detail, the quiet humor, the harrowing shipwrecks, the swashbuckling adventures in foreign parts... .From a cozy, well-lighted 20th century home, [Jack and Toby's] travails could not be more delightful to contemplate."—Tamar Lewin, New York Times Book Review, on The Unknown Shore

"Immediately and unmistakably O'Brian, with humor both slapstick and subtle, the sea implacably neutral, and his heroes bold rough sketches of Aubrey and Maturin. This and The Golden Ocean are fine forerunners of the grand series, and meeting them now is like being suddenly young again."—Stephen Becker, on The Unknown Shore

"Preposterously readable, and The Golden Ocean is enchantingly so....Steeped in naval know-how, full of tropical isles, Spanish seventy-fours, scurvy and high spirits...a timeless little classic."—Stepegn Vaughan, The Observer, on The Golden Ocean

"Wholly absorbing and wonderfully funny, like the best children's books it can be appreciated fully only by adults."—T. J. Binyon, Times Literary Supplement, on The Golden Ocean


MORE PRAISE FOR O'BRIAN AND HIS WORK

"O'Brian is not that hard a taste to acquire, but he is very tough to shake....[The Aubrey/Maturin series] is a great work."—John Ferguson, Boston Globe

"Not one of those overweening lists and counterlists of 100 greatest novels that provoked such harrumphing...mentioned the remarkable British novelist Patrick O'Brian. This, his beguiled readers could argue, demeans not O'Brian but the lists."—John Skow, Time

"Patrick O'Brian can put a spark of character into the sawdust of time."—The observer

"[O'Brian] is better than anyone at historical fiction....[He] is as able and graceful with the English language as a writer can be."—Neil Paulson, Denver Post

"O'Brian is, first and foremost, a novelist. His are not cardboard chatterers, like those in most historical novels. They are real, complex people with idiosyncratic concerns and human foibles. You won't understand every word...but it's a mark of his genius, and of the spell he casts on readers of these books, that it doesn't seem to matter."—John Paul Newport, Men's Journal

"O'Brian's narrative...provides endlessly varying shocks and surprises—comic, grim, farcical and tragic. An essential of the truly gripping book for the narrative addict is the creation of a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit, and O'Brian does this with prodigal specificity and generosity."—A. S. Byatt

"What Mr. O'Brian has created is no less than a tapestry of English life in the early 19th century that is almost Dickensian in its scope. Wrought from contemporary letters and logs and memoirs and official records, Mr. O'Brian's language is elegant, erudite and dense, exposing the reader to a world both high and low, encompassing honor and tyranny, pederasty and heterosexual love and betrayal, loyalty and treason, drug addiction and debtor's gaol, fiasco and triumph, cowardice and courage."—John Gregory Dunne, New York Observer

"Brings [O'Brian's] achievement to a new height....Such is O'Brian's power to possess the imagination that I found I was living in his world as much as my own, wanting to know what happens next. That is the real test. Any contemporary novelist should recognize in Patrick O'Brian a Master of the Art."—Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph [London]

"Taken as a whole, the Aubrey/Maturin novels are by a long shot the best things of their kind, so much better than the competition that comparisons long ago ceased to be relevant: they are uniquely excellent. "—Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review

"Although O'Brian is ingenious at devising new adventures, it is the richness of his characters which justifies his reader's continuing enthusiasm....O'Brian acknowledges Jane Austen as one of his inspirations, and she need not be ashamed of the affiliation."—The New Yorker

"If there were 17 more novels, I'd start today."—Donald Graham, Wall Street Journal

"There are those already planning this afternoon's trip to the bookstore. Their only reaction is: Thank god, Patrick O'Brian is still writing. To you, I say, not a moment to lose."—John Balzar, Los Angeles Times

"One does not get many pages into the Aubrey/Maturin sequence before falling under the spell of O'Brian's prose, which is coiling and uncoiling, spare, elegantly paced, and witty. "—Atlantic Monthly

"Aubrey and Maturin are the most enjoyable literary companions since Holmes and Watson. "—Detroit Free Press

"The experience of reading O'Brian is that of gracious acceptance at one of the banquets of life's feast....It's hard not to find him irresistible."—Commonweal

"It has been said that this series is some of the finest historical fiction of our time....Aubrey and Maturin have been described as better than Holmes and Watson, the equal of Quixote and Panza. By capturing an age before machine power as well as can be done, O'Brian has been called a delicious counterpoise to the confusing onrush of the Information age. All this is true. And the marvel is, it hardly says enough."—John Balzar, Los Angeles Times

"The rightful heir of Jane Austen."—Kirkus Reviews

"[Patrick O'Brian has] the power of bringing near to the reader...savagery and tenderness, beauty and mystery and boldness and dignity."—Eudora Welty

"On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change, but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives."— Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review "Heir to the greatness of Melville and Conrad."—The Wall Street Journal

"A peerless storyteller..."—Kevin Myers, Irish Times

"The deep pleasures of O'Brian's writing [are]: his wonderfully exact language, his erudition, his delight in human idiosyncrasy, his fine hand with character, his zest for the nitty-gritty of life and for life istelf."—Chicago Tribune

"If Jane Austen had written rousing sea yarns, she would have produced something very close to the prose of Patrick O'Brian." —Time

"They're funny, they're exciting, they're informative...There are legions of us who gladly ship out time and time again under Captain Aubrey."—Charles McGrath, The New Yorker

"Addictively readable." —Chicago Tribune

"Pure gold....O'Brian, partly by the very scale and consistency of his achievement, has gone further than just classic storytelling intertwined with high scholarship. I think he has shown that late on in our literary silver age, the authentic gold can still be mined....O'Brian is a man whose books you would dare to give to Sterne; whose conversation would have delighted Coleridge. It is his misfortune, but out great good luck, that he is our contemporary, and not theirs."—William Waldegrave, Daily Telegraph

"Certain authors we read because they enlarge us, because they offer experience, wisdom, beauty of language, a sense of fate and the only defense, a sense of humor: Fowles, Drabble, Naipaul, O'Brian. To compare Patrick O'Brian with 'writers of sea stories' is to compare Proust and The Orchid Fancier's Quarterly. O'Brian is literature. I am one of you surly pragmatical polyglot landlubbers, and I read him and reread him with awe and gratitude. His Aubrey/Maturin volumes are in effect one great book, and if I could keep only a half a dozen contemporary writers, O'Brian would be one of them."—Stephen Becker

"Aubrey and Maturin compose one of those complex and fascinating pairs of characters which have inspired thrilling stories of all kinds since the Iliad."—Iris Murdoch and John Bayley

"O'Brian is astonishingly good."—Times [London]

"Patrick O'Brian may indeed be the only present-day writer in his genre whose prose improves upon the action with every rereading."—Robert Taylor, Boston Globe

"I have been enthralled since reading Master and Commander. Now, having just finished Desolation Island, I find myself curiously anxious to slow down. True, nine volumes await me, but what I have read is so rich and splendid that I need to ponder and digest."—Robert Massie

"These novels, thoroughly steeped in their Nelsonic period, were originally hailed as Hornblower's natural successors, and in certain respects—humor, characterization—have succeeded in stealing the wind from that paragon's sails."—Stephen Vaughan, The Observer

"The high seas are his home place—as they were for Melville and Conrad. And his time, the age and era of the great Nelson, is the altogether gracefully resurrected past, in large and small and always in a wealth of shining details. But Patrick O'Brian is a novelist for here and now, someone who shares his splendid vision, his wonderful sense of character, with a growing number of lucky contemporary readers who have found his works."—George Garrett "A mirror to Nelson's navy—compulsively readable."—Hammond Innes

"O'Brian's sheer brilliance as a writer constantly dazzles, and his power over the reader is unique. No writer alive can move one as O'Brian can; no one can make you laugh so loud with hilarity, whiten your knuckles with unbearable tension or choke with emotion. He is the master."—Kevin Myers, Irish Times

"Patrick O'Brian presents the lost arcana of that hard-pressed, cruel, courageous world with an immediacy that makes its workings both comprehensible and fascinating. But in the end it is the serious exploration of human character that gives the books their greatest power: the fretful play of mood that can irrationally darken the edges of the brightest triumph, and that can feed a trickle of merriment into the midst of terror and tragedy."—Richard Snow, The New York Times Book Review

"O'Brian's books are as atypical of conventional sea stories as Conrad's. Like John LeCarré, he has erased the boundary separating a debased genre from 'serious' fiction. O'Brian is a novelist, pure and simple, one of the best we have."—Mark Horowitz, Los Angles Times Book Review

"Dazzling...A pleasure to read."—Thomas Flanagan

"A world of enchanting fictional surfaces."—John Bayley, New York Review of Books

"Make no mistake: the Aubrey/Maturin series is a great novel. In relentlessly beautiful prose it creates, or recreates, a world of people about whom we care intensely, and who come alive all over the globe, on seven seas and seven continents. It modulates from hot combat to the velleities of love, from the fo'c'sle to the quarterdeck, from debtor's prison to fortunes in jewelry or gold, from rage against tyranny and treason to the deep joys of honor, friendship and loyalty.... You will meet nothing like O'Brian in all literature..."—Stephen Becker, Chicago Sun-Times

"In length the series is unique; in quality—and there is not a weak link in the chain—it cannot but be ranked with the best of twentieth century historical novels."—T. J. Binyon, Independent

"The finest writer of sea-stories in the English language."—J. de Courcy Ireland

"O'Brian's sheer literary elegance is dazzling."—Chicago Sun-Times

"It is really fine to see so much scholarship combined with such masterly narrative gift. Forester has given so much pleasure to so many people, including me, but I think that Mr. O'Brian has reached a level when it is almost a disservice to compare them, he is so much better."—Mary Renault "[The series shows] a joy in language that jumps from every page....You're in for a wonderful voyage."—Cutler Durkee, People

"O'Brian has a gift for telling exactly what is essential and not a word more."—Malcolm Cowley, on The Catalans

"[O'Brian] van make all the wounds our common humanity suffers turn into speaking mouths."—Donald Barr, New York Times Book Review, on The Walker and Other Stories

"I would place O'Brian in the very front rank of short story writers."—Helen Lucy Burke, Irish Press, on The Chian Wine and Other Stories (contained in The Rendezvous)

"[A] literary and witty biography....Thanks to O'Brian we can glimpse the living complexities of a man mostly known today from roses and plant species."—Jason Wilson, London Magazine, on Joseph Banks

"For the first time since his death in 1820 Joseph Banks has found a deserving biographer....O'Brian has done the reading public a service by unwrapping so elegantly and wittily a great man previously known only to specialists and academics."—Michael Fathers, The Independent [London], on Joseph Banks

"The experience of reading O'Brian is that of gracious acceptance at one of the banquets of life's feast. . . . It's hard not to find him irresistible."—Edward T. Wheeler, Commonwealth

Copyright © 1992-2003 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.