Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. Now, for the first time, they are available in electronic book format, so a whole new generation of readers can be swept away on the adventure of a lifetime. This is the fourth book in the series.
Captain Jack Aubrey is ashore on half-pay without a command — until his friend, and occasional intelligence agent, Stephen Maturin, arrives with secret orders for Aubrey to take a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope, under a Commodore’s pennant. But the difficulties of carrying out his orders are compounded by two of his own captains — Lord Clonfert, a pleasure-seeking dilettante, and Captain Corbett, whose severity can push his crews to the verge of mutiny.
Based on the actual campaign of 1810 in the Indian Ocean, O’Brian’s attention to detail of eighteenth-century life ashore and at sea is meticulous. This tale is as beautifully written and as gripping as any in the series; it also stands on its own as a superlative work of fiction.
‘…full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein… Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.’ James Hamilton- Paterson
‘You are in for the treat of your lives. Thank God for Patrick O’Brian: his genius illuminates the literature of the English language, and lightens the lives of those who read him.’ Kevin Myers, Irish Times
‘Patrick O’Brian has written splendid novels — of which The Mauritius Command is the latest — recounting episodes in the lives of the naval officer Jack Aubrey and his friend the saturnine Irish physician, Stephen Maturin… 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 Bush and Hornblower] 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
‘O’Brian has a monumental knowledge of Naval history of the time. Nothing is glamorised. The press gangings, the floggings, the squalor are all here. But here, too, are heroism and humour.’ Mark Kahn, Sunday Mirror
‘The Mauritius Command is outstanding’
About the author
Patrick O’Brian, until his death in 2000, was one of our greatest contemporary novelists. He is the author of the acclaimed Aubrey–Maturin tales and the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He is the author of many other books including Testimonies, and his Collected Short Stories. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime’s contribution to literature. In the same year he was awarded the CBE. In 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He lived for many years in South West France and he died in Dublin in January 2000.
This initiates the reissue (see H.M.S. Surprise above) of O'Brian's long-out-of-print novels, set in Napoleonic-era England, about the unlikely pair, Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin. Aubrey is a strapping blond man of action; Maturin, his ship's surgeon and occasional intelligence agent to the king, is diminutive and somber. Aubrey is without a ship, uncomfortably surrounded by wife, babies and mother-in-law, when Maturin comes to visit. The good doctor has engineered a new mission for his friend, and they set off to take two small islands off the coast of Madagascar, thereby making the Indian Ocean safe for English commerce. O'Brian is a graceful writer, and the book is full of wonderful period details, such as the use of a sail to create a wading pool for non-swimmers in Aubrey's crew. Unfortunately, with Aubrey as commodore, too much of the action is seen from afar, as when batteries are taken on one of the islands. The book's peculiar narrative structure builds repeatedly towards anticipated climaxes that never happen. However, aficionados of C. S. Forester and Alexander Kent will delight in the almost excessive period nautical jargon.