Patrick O’Brian


HMS Surprise

Aubrey/Maturin series, Book 3


O’Brian manages to keep to his high standard, although with my expectations so high I’m not as able to relish the joy of first discovering Aubrey and Maturin.


There really is so much going on historically it’s amazing that the detail doesn’t swamp the story. The personal and professional lives of our two heroes really establish them as three dimensional people, but men so clearly of their time. Upon reflection, it’s impressive that we’ve got a sense of progression in the series, but are also carried along by episodes that could stand alone: the midnight rescue of a spy; sea battles in exotic places; the gripping duel to mention just a few.


I would still advise that the books be taken in occasional doses rather than a steady stream – I intend to enjoy O’Brian’s company in annual visits for many years to come. I just have to try to trick my mind into comparing him to others rather than himself to appreciate what I’m getting.


April 2007