Patrick OíBrian

TheFortune of War

(Aubrey/Maturin 6)


A, Thoroughly Enjoyable


Iím really impressed by this book. Not only because itís an excellent read, but because itís the 6th in a series. After being hurt by the utterly financial motives of wringing franchises dry in many a fantasy series (Feist, Jordan et. al.), Iím very wary of anything much beyond a trilogy. So often what could have been a decent book or two becomes increasingly lame carbons of itself.


Not so here.


As well as the usual flawless atmosphere and engaging characters, all of a sudden this book slides into a spy thriller! An excellent, page-turning spy-thriller. I love that OíBrian has given himself the room Ė in terms of characters, setting, and timeline Ė to roam freely between and around historical minutia, high-seas adventure, social commentary, humour (both broad (e.g. Maturinís hilarious cricket triumph) and subtle, philosophy, friendship, war, peace, anthropology, intrigue, domesticity, romance and natural history Ė to name just a few. Sure this may mean readers may prefer some books over others, but it also means OíBrian can more effectively avoid formula.


I wonder whether thereís a pattern emerging in my appreciation of this series: I relish a book; I approach the next book with high expectations and am mildly disappointed; I approach the next one with lower expectations and relish it etc. Or is it my mood that is changing, not the quality of the books?I fully intend to test this theory by going back to the start once Iíve worked my way through all twenty (twenty!) of them. Just at the moment Iím relishing that Iíve got so much to look forward to.


July 2010