On foreign shores, and far from home, a friend can become a foe in a heartbeat.
Shipwrecked on an uninhabited island in the Dutch East Indies as the Napoleonic Wars rage on, circumstances look far from promising for Captain Jack Aubrey and his crew. And yet, having overcome the odds and contrived their escape, still further peril awaits in the fiercely tidal waters of the Salibu Passage and the penal settlements of New South Wales.
What fresh dangers lie over the horizon and will Jack Aubrey prevail?
‘In a highly competitive field it goes straight to the top. A real first-rater.’
‘I’ve read [Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey‐Maturin nautical novel‐cycle] three times now, not least for its beautiful portrayal of a long‐term male friendship.’
‘If O’Brian’s novels have become a cult, this is because they are truly addictive. . . They are, quite magnificently, adventure yarns whose superb authenticity never distracts from the sheer thrill of the action.’
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
‘The Aubrey–Maturin novels, by Patrick O’Brian, are so addictive that after I finish one I have to hide the next from myself for a little while in order to do anything else but read.’
‘In Aubrey and Maturin, Patrick O’Brian has created two of the most enjoyable characters in twentieth-century fiction. Their relationship sustains an absorbing and thrilling sequence of naval stories, unrivalled in their complexity, full of impeccable detail and psychological insight. O’Brian switches from the intimate to the epic with equal assurance. One of the greatest authors to sail with.’
‘My hero is Patrick O’Brian. It’s basically impossible to write that well.’
‘One of the most compelling and brilliant novelists of his time . . . Beyond his superbly elegant writing, wit and originality, Patrick O’Brian showed an understanding of the nature of a floating world at the mercy of the wind and the sea which has never been surpassed.’
Max Hastings, Evening Standard
‘I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s twenty-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog.’
‘Written with most engaging enthusiasm that can’t fail to give pleasure to anybody who enjoys historical adventure flavoured with more than a dash of realism.’
The Sunday Times
‘One of the most brilliantly sustained pieces of historical fictional writing this century.’
James Teacher, Spectator
‘Patrick O’Brian brings depth to his sea-stories with outstanding dialogue, characterisation, humour and a golden thread of romance. You don’t have to love books about naval battles to become entranced.’
About the author
Patrick O’Brian was born in 1914 and published his first book, Caesar, when he was only fifteen. In the 1960s he began work on the idea that, over the next four decades, evolved into the twenty-novel long Aubrey–Maturin series (with an extra unfinished volume published posthumously). In 1995 he was awarded the CBE, and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.
Readers will welcome the reappearance here of elegant Stephen Maturin, one hero of O'Brian's excellent 19th-century seafarer series. Maturin is a ship's doctor, naturalist, spy, musician, ex-opium eater and, we're reminded here, terrific swordsman. His ``brother'' is Capt. Jack Aubrey, RN, MP, popular hero for his success against Napoleon, less introspective but as subtly drawn as Maturin and as avid a musician. Last seen in The Thirteen-Gun Salute the two were shipwrecked on a barren isle in the South China Sea. After a bitter fight with Dyaks and Malays they reach Batavia, where Governor Raffles gives Aubrey the eponymic Dutch sloop (``a tight, sweet, newly-coppered, broad-buttocked litle ship, a solace to any man's heart'') to continue his circumnavigation of the globe. As usual the chief joys are in the details of the food, drink and clothes of the era, with those of the rain forests, kangaroos and platypuses added here. On the other hand, early Sydney's squalor is matched by its brutality.