counter The Letter Of Marque [Unabridged Cd] (Audiobook) - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

The Letter Of Marque [Unabridged Cd] (Audiobook)

Availability: Ready to download

When Jack Aubrey is unfairly deprived of his commission in the Royal Navy, Stephen Maturin comes to the rescue, purchasing the captain's former ship and outfitting it as a privateer, to be commanded by...Jack Aubrey. Soon the Surprise is off to sea, on a mission that Aubrey hopes will redeem his good name. The author's grasp of period detail is astonishing as ever--and so When Jack Aubrey is unfairly deprived of his commission in the Royal Navy, Stephen Maturin comes to the rescue, purchasing the captain's former ship and outfitting it as a privateer, to be commanded by...Jack Aubrey. Soon the Surprise is off to sea, on a mission that Aubrey hopes will redeem his good name. The author's grasp of period detail is astonishing as ever--and so is his gift for pure entertainment.


Compare

When Jack Aubrey is unfairly deprived of his commission in the Royal Navy, Stephen Maturin comes to the rescue, purchasing the captain's former ship and outfitting it as a privateer, to be commanded by...Jack Aubrey. Soon the Surprise is off to sea, on a mission that Aubrey hopes will redeem his good name. The author's grasp of period detail is astonishing as ever--and so When Jack Aubrey is unfairly deprived of his commission in the Royal Navy, Stephen Maturin comes to the rescue, purchasing the captain's former ship and outfitting it as a privateer, to be commanded by...Jack Aubrey. Soon the Surprise is off to sea, on a mission that Aubrey hopes will redeem his good name. The author's grasp of period detail is astonishing as ever--and so is his gift for pure entertainment.

30 review for The Letter Of Marque [Unabridged Cd] (Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    While Captain Jack Aubrey is the heart-and-soul main character of the series, he shares the stage with his unlikely friend Dr. Stephen Maturin, the brain and introspection of these books. In The Letter of Marque Maturin takes center stage. In the previous book Aubrey took a tough one on the chin. He spends much of this book trying to get his back, specifically going to daring and dangerous lengths to get himself reinstated on the Navy List after a stock market swindle lands him in a terrible pre While Captain Jack Aubrey is the heart-and-soul main character of the series, he shares the stage with his unlikely friend Dr. Stephen Maturin, the brain and introspection of these books. In The Letter of Marque Maturin takes center stage. In the previous book Aubrey took a tough one on the chin. He spends much of this book trying to get his back, specifically going to daring and dangerous lengths to get himself reinstated on the Navy List after a stock market swindle lands him in a terrible predicament. That's where the book's physical action takes place. Maturin's predicament is more cerebral. He's trying to reconcile with his estranged wife, who left him upon hearing rumors that he was parading around Italy with a mistress. Yes, he was spending a good deal of his time in the Mediterranean with another woman, but that all had to do with his intelligence work. Unfortunately he was sent away on an even longer voyage and was never sure that the letter of explanation ever arrived in his wife's hands. All of this is resolved through out The Letter of Marque, but resolved with all the painfully nuanced details that a battered relationship entails. It honestly reminded me of such episodes I went through in my younger years and I did not enjoy the reminder. It was all too well done. Much of this book ties up the loose ends of the last book. That of course leaves the reader feeling satisfied in the end, however, it doesn't always translate to the most exciting of novels, not all the way through at least. There's also a lot of contemplation, just a little too much at times. This draws more attention to Patrick O'Brian's ever-present digressions on any number of topics, natural science being one of the foremost. Though I'd imagine readers who prefer authors to always "get to the point" would be annoyed, these meanderings are very enjoyable to me, except when they're paired with too much introspection all in the same book. That happens occasionally throughout this series and it happens again here, which is why I've knocked this down one star. Still in all, Jack Aubrey's personal victories and Stephen's struggle are engaging enough to keep The Letter of Marque well afloat! My review of book #11, The Reverse of the Medal: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... My review of book #13, The Thirteen Gun Salute: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “I have often observed that extremely violent noise and activity go with good-fellowship and heightened spirits.” ― Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque Captain Aubrey has been kicked out of the Navy based on some financial speculation that he was involved in. Now, he is sailing the Surprise decked out as a privateer (under the Letter of Marque) which allows him to earn a bit more money and enjoy a bit more freedom. Captain Aubrey, however, is a man who misses the Navy and being away from the Na “I have often observed that extremely violent noise and activity go with good-fellowship and heightened spirits.” ― Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque Captain Aubrey has been kicked out of the Navy based on some financial speculation that he was involved in. Now, he is sailing the Surprise decked out as a privateer (under the Letter of Marque) which allows him to earn a bit more money and enjoy a bit more freedom. Captain Aubrey, however, is a man who misses the Navy and being away from the Navy is killing him. Meanwhile, Dr. Maturin has his demons to deal with (women, or one woman, and Laudanum). This isn't the strongest book in the series (12 books in and this might be the weakest so far, but still isn't really weak or weak only relatively), but it is nice to see a different aspect of the the British Navy. Probably the most famous Privateer in history is Francis Drake. Aubrey engages in several battles at sea and is able "right" his fortune and perhaps even his name. There is a scene at the end when Dr. Maturin is under the spell of a large dose of Laudanum that while interesting is a bit weak (he dreams of balloons, and Diana). There was certainly plenty of foreshadowing of balloons to make its entrance in his dream believable, but it was just not polished enough. No. Polished isn't right. It didn't risk enough. It was a bit of a boring scene. Anyway, still a very good book -- with just a few barnacles attached.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    [9/10] Blue sea, blue sky, white clouds, white sails, a general brilliance: what could be more pleasing? Some say that the Vikings went raiding every year in order to escape from the six-month winter nagging of their wives (Frans Bengtsson). A similar argument could be made that the English became sailors in order to escape from the dreariness of their island's climate. I too am enjoying a return to the frigate "Surprise" in the company of Captain Jack Aubrey and of doctor Stephen Maturin, the t [9/10] Blue sea, blue sky, white clouds, white sails, a general brilliance: what could be more pleasing? Some say that the Vikings went raiding every year in order to escape from the six-month winter nagging of their wives (Frans Bengtsson). A similar argument could be made that the English became sailors in order to escape from the dreariness of their island's climate. I too am enjoying a return to the frigate "Surprise" in the company of Captain Jack Aubrey and of doctor Stephen Maturin, the two friends that took me around the world for some extraordinary voyages of naval engagements and naturalist exploration. A major pull is also the delightful play with language from the author, a reminder of the art of polite conversation and dry wit. Jack, I do most humbly beg your pardon for being late; it was my own fault entirely, so it was – a gross self-indulgence in bustards; and I am most infinitely obliged to you for waiting for us. Bustards used to be quite numerous in Romania until about a century ago. I learned about them in school, but I have never seen a live one, so I envy Mr. Maturin for his chance to observe some of these huge birds in England before he embarks on a new voyage. For those who need a reminder of events from the previous book: it took place mostly on dry land and dealt a heavy blow to Jack Aubreym who has been unfairly accused of insider trading at the London Stock Exchange. Stephen has stepped in to help his friend with the letter of marque from the title, basically a license to pilfer and pillage on the high seas in the best British naval tradition. Coming back to the ship is the best medicine for Jack Aubrey's depression, after he was booted out of the Navy. With a handpicked crew from the most notorious pirate town on the Channel, he sets out to hunt for fat Spanish merchant ships, and for a way to rekindle his 'Lucky' surname. Gazing at the beam he was dimly aware of the ship's living sound as she moved north-east with a slight following sea, the contended hum of the well-set-up rigging (taut, but not too taut), the occasional creak of the wheel, the complex aroma, made up of scrubbed plank, fresh sea-breeze, stale bilge-water, tarred cordage, paint and damped sailcloth. I would love to give you a blow by blow account of the Atlantic chases and of the daring attacks on coastal France in the present episode, but Patrick O'Brian does it so much better than me. Let me just quote one of the Secret Service men reaction to hearing the story: "As the Duke said, it was the completest thing." And that includes the delights of conversation and of looking up new or archaic words in dictionaries, words that I would love to use in casual conversation although I fail too see an opportunity to include 'precipitancy' or to enjoy a dinner of 'green calipash and amber calipee swimming in their juices' [that second one is turtle soup, which I would like to taste even at the risk of aggravating Greenpeace, but it's not on the menu of any restaurant I know] I mentioned several reasons why I keep coming back to the series: the action, the descriptions of nature, the use of language, the humour. There are two more aspects that come to the forefront in this present novel. One is already nostalgia, looking back at the long journey already made with the eyes of a stunned dinner companion for Jack and Stephen: 'Ascension Island! cried Lord Meyrick. 'What vistoes that calls to mind! What oceans of vast eternity! In my youth I longed to travel, sir; I longed to view the Great Wall of China, the deadly Upas Tree, the flux and reflux of the fabled Nile, the crocodile in tears... The second reason is the way Patrick O'Brian writes of the pangs of love, the romantic delicate touch he uses to approach to relationships of happily married Jack and of long-suffering Stephen. A suffering that is becoming exquisitely unbearable in the last pages of the book as he is reunited in Stockholm with his wayward wife. I am beyond thrilled at the return of the fiery Diana Villiers. What is next in line for the "Surprise" and its buccaneer crew? I can't wait to find out what new adventures will come their way in South America. I can understand Jack's newfound joy in his frigate: She is in fine form – brought us out of the Suur Sound under topgallantsails, going like a racehorse, starboard tacks aboard, studdingsails aloft and alow, nip and tuck in that damned narrow Wormsi channel – you could have tossed a biscuit on to the lee shore – and she has a dozen bolts of the kind of poldavy they serve out in Heaven. * poldavy * is a type of old style sailcloth

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This was a wonderful conclusion to The Reverse of the Medal . As Stephen notes at one stage in the book, Aristotle's definition of tragedy encompassed not only a great man being brought down but also the redemption and deliverance of a man who had been laid low. If that's true, then this book, in company with the last, forms a truly great example of the same. From the nadir of fortune that both Jack and Stephen experience in TRotM, LoM sees a complete reversal. Jack is more successful than he This was a wonderful conclusion to The Reverse of the Medal . As Stephen notes at one stage in the book, Aristotle's definition of tragedy encompassed not only a great man being brought down but also the redemption and deliverance of a man who had been laid low. If that's true, then this book, in company with the last, forms a truly great example of the same. From the nadir of fortune that both Jack and Stephen experience in TRotM, LoM sees a complete reversal. Jack is more successful than he's ever been, Stephen has Diana restored to him, and the book ends on one of the happiest and most contained notes that I think I've ever seen in an O' Brian novel. The period sense was, as ever, perfect. If ever there was a literary universe in which I think I would like to live, then the Aubrey-Maturin universe is one of them. The dialogue was a joy as ever. O' Brian is so good at using dialogue to show just how close a friendship Stephen and Jack have, just how much they mean to one another. It's such a joyous thing that even Jack's little bit of banter at Stephen about the fact that the sea going out is, in fact, called the tide, succeeded in bringing a huge smile to my face. I particularly enjoyed Stephen's conversation about how difficult it is to survive as an undergraduate at TCD. Things, clearly, have not changed that much. *g*

  5. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    3.5 – 4 stars In a nutshell this volume of Aubrey and Maturin’s adventures covers a short, though very eventful, series of engagements in the Surprise under the titular letter of marque granted them by the crown, making Aubrey and company privateers (or in other words government sanctioned pirates). No doubt driven by his anger over the injustices he has suffered of late Aubrey proves to be a harsher than normal task-master to his crew, half of which are made up of old Surprises, the other of new 3.5 – 4 stars In a nutshell this volume of Aubrey and Maturin’s adventures covers a short, though very eventful, series of engagements in the Surprise under the titular letter of marque granted them by the crown, making Aubrey and company privateers (or in other words government sanctioned pirates). No doubt driven by his anger over the injustices he has suffered of late Aubrey proves to be a harsher than normal task-master to his crew, half of which are made up of old Surprises, the other of new men recruited from the population of privateers found in abundance in the town of Shelmerston. Most of the tension in the novel revolves around Aubrey’s audacious plan to fulfill his commission from the government in such a way as to gain the greatest amount of glory without losing any face (or credit) to the Royal Navy forces tasked with providing him assisstance. Also complicating Aubrey’s ultimate goal of re-instatement on the Navy List is his pig-headed (in Maturin’s opinion at least) adherence to his sense of personal honour and stubborn refusal to accept help that in any way implies his complicity in the scheme for which he was convicted. Sub-plots around Maturin’s use of laudanum and its wider implications both for himself and members of the crew, as well as his relationship with Diana round out the story. Oh, and both of our heroes take some very hard knocks, getting seriously injured, though in very different contexts and situations. (Poor Stephen seems to be habitually able to find new and devastating ways of falling down.) You could certainly say that for all the vicissitudes to which O’Brian puts them he really does not like making his main characters suffer and here, after only one novel, he has provided both of them with a very happy ending indeed. Of course, I don’t imagine this to be a permanent state of affairs, but considering the level to which poor Aubrey had sunk by the end of The Reverse of the Medal he has certainly made a precipitous rise. For his part Stephen’s bliss may be short-lived (and no doubt will be, given its source), but both our heroes really can’t complain of their treatment at O’Brian’s hands...at least for the moment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nigel

    I'm returning to this series after a very long break, and I'm glad that I did. It's possible, after all, to read books wrong, which can end up spoiling the book for reasons that are nothing to do with the book itself. In the case of the Aubrey/Maturin series, the uniformity of their excellence in terms of writing, their largely character-driven, relatively shapeless novelistic plotting compared poorly, I thought, to the more intricate, complex and subtle mechanisms of Dorothy Dunnett. Of course, I'm returning to this series after a very long break, and I'm glad that I did. It's possible, after all, to read books wrong, which can end up spoiling the book for reasons that are nothing to do with the book itself. In the case of the Aubrey/Maturin series, the uniformity of their excellence in terms of writing, their largely character-driven, relatively shapeless novelistic plotting compared poorly, I thought, to the more intricate, complex and subtle mechanisms of Dorothy Dunnett. Of course, that's the wrong approach. They don't suffer in comparison at all. They are completely different animals. To read them for the thrill of clever plot twists that have been deviously woven into eight massive volumes is both pointless and a bit stupid, and I'm glad now that I've achieved this perspective, because the pleasures of O'Brian's novels are in some ways richer than Dunnett's, for all that Dunnett will always edge out O'Brian as one of my favourite writers. Jack Aubrey is in a sorry state at the start of The Letter Of Marque, struck off the naval lists after a trumped-up charge, he is morose, short-tempered and depressed. Stephen Maturin has purchased The Surprise, however, and with the titular letter and a crew half of old naval hands and half of doughty pirates, they set out to restore Jack's fortunes. The aforementioned uniformity of excellence of these novels tends to render each succeeding novel susceptible to accusations of sameness. Certainly there is progression. Each book is a chapter in the ongoing history of our heroes' friendship and careers. They age and change in circumstances and temperament. There are voyages, there are battles, there are some exchanges of intelligence, observations of flora and fauna, and occasional visits to hearth and home and family, where Jack can blunder cheerfully and Stephen can mope for his estranged wife. The story develops, the characters grow, the world opens up around them, a world so fully and perfectly realised that we come to understand that what we mistook for sameness is, in fact, recognition and comfort and familiarity. Each book gives exactly what it sets out to give, and so long as we don't mistake it for something it's not, we can fully enjoy them in all their warmth and generosity. For all love.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    In Vol.XI of Robert's Adventures in Napoleonic Naval Literature, the protagonist found himself wearied and despondant, wondering whether it was "worth it" to go on. THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY See the complete review here: http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/33... In Vol.XI of Robert's Adventures in Napoleonic Naval Literature, the protagonist found himself wearied and despondant, wondering whether it was "worth it" to go on. THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY See the complete review here: http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/33...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Reading ‘The Letter of Marque’ was an attempt at escapism and distraction immediately before and after the American election. It didn’t work, but I’m not sure anything would have. It was nice to have Aubrey and Maturin for company while I was too anxious to sleep, in any event. This is quite a sombre outing for pair, as Jack has been struck off the naval lists and is captaining a privateer that Stephen bought to cheer him up. Nonetheless, there are delightful moments of levity as well as thrilli Reading ‘The Letter of Marque’ was an attempt at escapism and distraction immediately before and after the American election. It didn’t work, but I’m not sure anything would have. It was nice to have Aubrey and Maturin for company while I was too anxious to sleep, in any event. This is quite a sombre outing for pair, as Jack has been struck off the naval lists and is captaining a privateer that Stephen bought to cheer him up. Nonetheless, there are delightful moments of levity as well as thrilling sea battles. Notable sub-plots include Stephen’s troubling relationship with laudanum, an exploding pudding, Babbington’s eye for the ladies, and Jack not talking about his feelings but Stephen understanding anyway. O’Brian continues to have a wonderful ear for dialogue, a deft touch with characterisation, and a magical ability to evoke the early 19th century.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    In this twelfth volume of the series, the Reverend Martin gives some advice on happy endings to an aspiring naval author: “When Mowett told me he meant to write a very ambitious piece called “The Sea-Officer’s Tragedy”, based on Captain Aubrey’s career, his victories and his misfortunes, I told him I hoped he would make it end happy. “I can’t possibly do that,” says he. “Since it is a tragedy, it must end in disaster.” I begged his pardon for disagreeing, but I had the support of the greatest au In this twelfth volume of the series, the Reverend Martin gives some advice on happy endings to an aspiring naval author: “When Mowett told me he meant to write a very ambitious piece called “The Sea-Officer’s Tragedy”, based on Captain Aubrey’s career, his victories and his misfortunes, I told him I hoped he would make it end happy. “I can’t possibly do that,” says he. “Since it is a tragedy, it must end in disaster.” I begged his pardon for disagreeing, but I had the support of the greatest authority in the learned world, Aristotle himself, in saying that although tragedy necessarily dealt with doings of great-minded men or women, in a high and serious manner, it by no means necessarily ended unhappy....”. This passage felt like a wink from the author after all the vicissitudes Captain Jack Aubrey and Naval Surgeon/naturalist/spy Stephen Maturin endured in “The Reverse of the Medal”, for in this volume, our heroes face many more challenges and battles on land and sea, but surmount them all, more or less, to arrive at their own happy endings, at least for the moment. I have enjoyed revisiting this series via audiobook and the wonderful readings by Patrick Tull, and this seems like a good place to take a break before beginning the next round of voyages, battles, misunderstandings, botanizing, and intrigue, with the South Pacific, Australia, and South America ahead.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Letter of Marque is the twelfth book in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and I don’t seem to be enjoying it any less as time – and the series – stretches on. Here we catch up with Jack after he’s been struck off the list of post-captains for a crime on the stock exchange that he could never have understood enough to commit. But he’s not without a boat, The Surprise having been surreptitiously bought by his now rather minted best friend Stephen, and given a letter of marque to protect them from the The Letter of Marque is the twelfth book in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and I don’t seem to be enjoying it any less as time – and the series – stretches on. Here we catch up with Jack after he’s been struck off the list of post-captains for a crime on the stock exchange that he could never have understood enough to commit. But he’s not without a boat, The Surprise having been surreptitiously bought by his now rather minted best friend Stephen, and given a letter of marque to protect them from the Royal Navy in their new activity of privateering (piracy with its best manners on display). No longer full of pressed men and marines, the men who now serve Jack are all those who want to be there, recommended either by their past experiences of his command or drawn by the lure of the flashy prizes he’s often been lucky to bring in. And in the background, the English authorities are laying out the necessary plans to reinstate Jack should he do enough damage to the French to justify their backpedalling. Meanwhile, Stephen is still ministering to the ship in his role as doctor while gathering information about the enemy in his other, secret intelligence role. All while pining over Diana, his erstwhile wife, and completely failing to notice that his servant is pilfering and then diluting what remains of his laudanum supplies. Picking one of these books up is like slipping into a soothing warm bath, no matter whether the book depicts one of the more successful or miserable outings for Jack and Stephen. Complete with a couple of rousing engagements, The Letter of Marque was a lovely catch up with my favourite literary couple.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The story rolled memorably along until the last 50 pages or so when it took a detour into snoozetown with the tedious love woes of the Doctor. that, plus another placeholder ending, degrades the overall enjoyment of the book, but not the series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved the journeys that both Jack and Stephen made in this. Jack starts out in the depths of depression when his career has been wrecked on the reef of a scandal not of his own making (well, not entirely), and Stephen is suffering from a marital melancholy which he's medicating with laudanum and coca leaves. Jack's redemption is made possible by Stephen coming to his rescue with a ship and a letter of marque, and Stephen finally reunites with the fickle Diana Villiers after a long separation a I loved the journeys that both Jack and Stephen made in this. Jack starts out in the depths of depression when his career has been wrecked on the reef of a scandal not of his own making (well, not entirely), and Stephen is suffering from a marital melancholy which he's medicating with laudanum and coca leaves. Jack's redemption is made possible by Stephen coming to his rescue with a ship and a letter of marque, and Stephen finally reunites with the fickle Diana Villiers after a long separation and suspicions. It was a quieter book than most, one of those in the series that have only a battle or two and most of the action is character-based and dialogue-driven. I love Sophy's faithfulness to Jack - her "good Navy wife" cheer - and looked forward to the domestic scenes with his kids and crabby mother-in-law. Stephen was his usual mix of charm and gloomth. IRL, I'd want to slap him silly and pry the coco leaves out of his hands, but as O'Brien writes him, he's such a marvelously flawed hero. I read the last 10 pages instead of listening to the rest of the audiobook, and it went pretty well. I'd always been afraid that it wouldn't scan as well in the written word, but maybe one day I'll grab a volume when I'm searching for my next dead-tree read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    Both Jack and Stephen face down their personal demons. In Jack's case, his susceptibility to land sharks has caused him to get involved in a scam that ultimately gets him stripped of his Navy commission. It will take a lot of luck for him to get reinstated. Fortunately, he is not called "Lucky Jack Aubrey" for nothing. Also, he is in command of a privateer full of eager and able seamen. For Stephen, it's his long-term opium habit. (He is not addicted, of course. Never in life.) When his self-medi Both Jack and Stephen face down their personal demons. In Jack's case, his susceptibility to land sharks has caused him to get involved in a scam that ultimately gets him stripped of his Navy commission. It will take a lot of luck for him to get reinstated. Fortunately, he is not called "Lucky Jack Aubrey" for nothing. Also, he is in command of a privateer full of eager and able seamen. For Stephen, it's his long-term opium habit. (He is not addicted, of course. Never in life.) When his self-medication finally gets him into big trouble, a brother physician prohibits the use of opium. This is a problem for Stephen, until he remembers about his supply of Peruvian coca leaves. Neither Jack nor Stephen would have survived these ordeals if not for their mutual friendship, the loyalty of their shipmates, and the devotion of their wives (each in her own very different way). It also helps them to have friends in high places. One thing I really appreciate about Patrick O'Brian is his astounding gift for showing rather than telling.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    After being falsely accused and convicted of a complicated investment scheme, Jack Aubrey has been cast out of the service. He's been in the Royal Navy nearly all of his life, and the separation breaks his heart. In hopes of moderating his misery, his particular friend Stephen Maturin buys the Surprise and secures a letter of marque for the ship. Aubrey can captain the Surprise once more, but this time as a privateer. It is acutely painful to him, but leads to one of his greatest professional tr After being falsely accused and convicted of a complicated investment scheme, Jack Aubrey has been cast out of the service. He's been in the Royal Navy nearly all of his life, and the separation breaks his heart. In hopes of moderating his misery, his particular friend Stephen Maturin buys the Surprise and secures a letter of marque for the ship. Aubrey can captain the Surprise once more, but this time as a privateer. It is acutely painful to him, but leads to one of his greatest professional triumphs. Stephen, meanwhile, finally meets face-to-face with Diana once more. Everything about this book was beautiful and perfect and much-longed for. The only flaw was that the voice the narrator gives Diana Villiers is cloying and fake, and it nearly ruined my enjoyment of her scenes with Stephen. But not quite, for nothing could take away my adoration for the slow, weird ways they reconcile with each other.

  15. 5 out of 5

    C. A. Powell

    I'm profoundly in love with Diane Villiers. Steve Maturin's estranged wife. Both these characters turn over another leaf in this glorious tale of the continuing Aubrey/Maturin saga. Captain Jack Aubrey has been struck off the naval list because of enemy agents framing him for a stock exchange crime he did not commit. Many know he has been framed and the enemy agents guilty of the entrapment have fled the country. Aubrey is presented with HMS Surprise, which Steven Maturin has bought out of his i I'm profoundly in love with Diane Villiers. Steve Maturin's estranged wife. Both these characters turn over another leaf in this glorious tale of the continuing Aubrey/Maturin saga. Captain Jack Aubrey has been struck off the naval list because of enemy agents framing him for a stock exchange crime he did not commit. Many know he has been framed and the enemy agents guilty of the entrapment have fled the country. Aubrey is presented with HMS Surprise, which Steven Maturin has bought out of his inheritance. Therefore, Jack Aubrey is sailing the ship as a Letter of Marque - a privateer. He is still fighting for his country and trying to clear his name and win reinstatement back into the Royal Navy. Once again I was enthralled by this twelfth story of the Royal Navy saga set in the time of Napoleon and the British/American War of 1812 to 1814. I can't wait to start on the next one. Splendid stuff.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    The usual, brightly colored Aubrey and Maturin high-seas fun, leaven with the sobering hash each makes of his health and personal life. They have the whole world helping them into their personal infernos, but the fault lies not in their stars but in themselves. Friends and family--and each other--bear them through as usual on a freshening breeze and the promise of yet greater adventures.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Judith Johnson

    Well, I love e'm all, but this is one of my faves! This is the 10th Aubrey & Maturin I've re-read this year - something's had to soothe my savage breast following the Brexit vote and I can't take up smoking again - been off the evil weed for 35 years! Well, I love e'm all, but this is one of my faves! This is the 10th Aubrey & Maturin I've re-read this year - something's had to soothe my savage breast following the Brexit vote and I can't take up smoking again - been off the evil weed for 35 years!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    This is now my third time reading through this brilliant series and I am reminded again how beautifully written and how wonderfully, addictively enjoyable they are. In The Letter Of Marque, Jack’s fortunes are a low ebb, but he commands the Surprise as a privateer or “letter of marque” as events develop which may bring about his reinstatement. Stephen, meanwhile, sets about repairing his marriage to Diana while succumbing to his laudanum addiction. It’s an excellent mixture of naval action and de This is now my third time reading through this brilliant series and I am reminded again how beautifully written and how wonderfully, addictively enjoyable they are. In The Letter Of Marque, Jack’s fortunes are a low ebb, but he commands the Surprise as a privateer or “letter of marque” as events develop which may bring about his reinstatement. Stephen, meanwhile, sets about repairing his marriage to Diana while succumbing to his laudanum addiction. It’s an excellent mixture of naval action and developments ashore, with O’Brian’s study of an addictive personality especially well done, I think. Patrick O'Brian is steeped in the period of the early 19th Century and his knowledge of the language, manners, politics, social mores and naval matters of the time is deep and wide. Combined with a magnificent gift for both prose and storytelling, it makes something very special indeed. The books are so perfectly paced, with some calmer, quieter but still engrossing passages and some quite thrilling action sequences. O'Brian's handling of language is masterly, with the dialogue being especially brilliant, but also things like the way his sentences become shorter and more staccato in the action passages, making them heart-poundingly exciting. There are also laugh-out-loud moments and an overall sense of sheer involvement and pleasure in reading. I cannot recommend these books too highly. They are that rare thing; fine literature which are also books which I can't wait to read more of. Wonderful stuff.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Lucky Jack Aubrey is back! And what a comeback it is! But that will come in due course and first Jack and Stephen have their fair share of misery and heartache. And while Jack bears it with a certain degree of fortitude though being uncharacteristically reserved and sullen, Stephen is practically falling to pieces, losing almost all his quick-wittiness and sharpness of mind. But certain wounds are not to be suffered alone in a quiet corner and action is always the best remedy so both Jack and Ste Lucky Jack Aubrey is back! And what a comeback it is! But that will come in due course and first Jack and Stephen have their fair share of misery and heartache. And while Jack bears it with a certain degree of fortitude though being uncharacteristically reserved and sullen, Stephen is practically falling to pieces, losing almost all his quick-wittiness and sharpness of mind. But certain wounds are not to be suffered alone in a quiet corner and action is always the best remedy so both Jack and Stephen are constantly on their way and the book seemed to me as action-packed as possible. Stephen even had a chance to wield a sword in cold blood - a delight nearly forgotten since the first books. I noticed that thoughout the series I tend to say that the book I've just read was the best so far, so making at least half the series "best books". But these three starting with "The Far Side of the World" raise the standard so high that I wonder if the rest of them will be able to maintain it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Duell

    I laughed, I cried. What a joy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    Diana Villiers...did nothing wrong?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I read The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian alongside Eric Hobsbawm’s history of the revolutionary period of the early nineteenth century, and it gave me much to think about. In that era we see how market capitalism and state interests overlap, and how they are supported with what analysts today call ‘power projection’. The line of battle ships back then were the most sophisticated weapons of their time, handled by a combination of manpower and machine which was uniquely specialised. But the I read The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian alongside Eric Hobsbawm’s history of the revolutionary period of the early nineteenth century, and it gave me much to think about. In that era we see how market capitalism and state interests overlap, and how they are supported with what analysts today call ‘power projection’. The line of battle ships back then were the most sophisticated weapons of their time, handled by a combination of manpower and machine which was uniquely specialised. But the ships and the men who sailed them stood on the shoulders of giants, and what it is harder to find in any character study is the full shape of that giant. There’s a tendency today to look at naval warfare of the time as being all spectacle. But considering the immense efforts and expenditure that went into launching these vessels, the actual business of fighting made up only the tiniest portion of what went into putting all those men out there. Tens of men might die on a voyage but how many died, how many suffered, before they could even leave port? And yet those short, incredibly violent engagements between over-crowded, over-engineered floating fortresses could have consequences far beyond the range of their guns. You might think that the new context of a private military endeavour might enable a certain amount of commentary on what has, until now, been a relatively settled state of affairs. But for Jack Aubrey, the transition from public servant to private master is remarkably smooth. Perhaps that in itself is the commentary, but for the most part the author’s focus is on the incidental details that mark him out as a mercenary: the differences in livery, discipline, and so on. As ever, O’Brian seems outwardly admiring of all these efforts, though determinedly equivocal with regards to their wider benefit. The story of The Letter of Marque follows on without a breath from The Reverse of the Medal. Captain Jack Aubrey has turned privateer, with his old friend Stephen Maturin stumping up the required cash to buy the Surprise and to pay his crewmates to come along. Stephen’s contacts in the intelligence world have given them a secret mission to South America, but the main substance of this book concerns a couple of exploratory ventures that are partly intended to restore Jack’s reputation and build up his fortune again. The first involves a Spanish ship full of quicksilver; the second a daring raid on a French frigate moored in an unfriendly port. This is Aubrey’s first taste of success without a sting in the tail for a very long time. There’s still a lingering bitterness that comes from being an outsider to his beloved service — initially, this is described as a certain ‘sealing off…[that] had turned him into a eunuch as far as emotion was concerned.’ (It’s a fairly startling image; apart from anything else it is not altogether clear what a potent male model of emotion in O’Brian’s work would look like.) But since his victories bring sudden popular acclaim, his upset soon seems like more of an inconvenience than a threat. As so often is the case, for the most part he is simply too busy to worry about it very often. It’s difficult to see at this stage if that seal will linger. Even the sudden death of his father gives him little cause for grief here. Stephen, meanwhile, is concerned in part with intelligence matters; but mostly he’s thinking about Diana, his estranged wife. An opportunity has arisen to visit her in Sweden, where she has been living for the last few books with Jagiello, who we met way back in The Surgeon’s Mate. But it won’t be till the end of this story that they meet again, and we get to find out exactly where they stand now in relation to one another. In the mean time, the book is full of incident. It is all good-natured, upbeat stuff, even though it is peppered with strange nuggets of darkness. There’s the offhand revelation that the new cook is an actual devil worshipper, for example, or the sad fate of the French agent who aided Maturin at the tail end of the last book. I like O’Brian’s scheme to wean Maturin off his long-standing addiction to opium. His servant Padeen begins stealing it from his cabin, and making up the absence in the flasks with brandy. Being that Padeen is so large and somewhat slow, nobody seems to notice him walking around stoned on the stuff. There’s a sort of dark poetic irony in the situation of Maturin effectively offloading his own addiction on the poor man, even if he doesn’t entirely know what he’s doing. Padeen is bearing the load that Maturin hardly imagined he was even carrying; one has to read into these things to tease the politics out of O’Brian. It’s a strange thing: even as these books go on — and become in many ways more colourful, more enjoyable — the author’s aversion to anything really difficult becomes more pronounced. Emotion is difficult; confrontation is difficult; settled routine and lasting relationships are difficult. Looking at the circumstances of one’s condition is worst of all. Better to sail onward. Better to break it all up, with violence if you have to. But this book also does something strange and new for the series. There is throughout this recurring image of a hot air balloon. It’s partly an object of Stephen’s fascination, a little like the diving bell was previously, but in this case it seems to come up in spite of him as well as because of him. Apparently people are talking about balloons all the time in 1812. A balloon begins to feel like an animating spirit of the book. Second-hand reports of the experience feel like dispatches from another world: ‘“…But what I had not derived from his account was the extraordinary intensification of living, the palpable depth of the universal silence, and the very great awareness of the light and colour of this other world – an otherness that was made all the stronger because through an occasional gap in the clouds our ordinary world could be seen, with silver rivers very, very far below and the roads distinct. Yet in time that changed to rock and ice, even farther below; and in my keen delight there was mingled an undefined sense of a dread as huge as the sky itself; it was not merely a fear of being destroyed, but worse; perhaps that of being wholly and entirely lost, body and soul…”’ There’s a peculiar richness to these moments that is quite unlike anything seen before in these books. It is a deeply reflective quality; the author’s descriptions of the natural world touch upon it, but here more than ever before the imagery is bent towards the service of expressing the psychology of the characters. That ‘dread’ suggests an invocation of the romantic sublime; but though for the reader it’s tempered with our knowledge that nothing really bad can happen to the characters, it still has a personal, transportive effect on them. There is simple, penetrating imagery here that has all the feeling of a Magritte painting: ‘…now he was living with time in the sense of duration once more, for he knew with dreadful certainty that they had been rising for hours on end, that they were now rising faster still. And as they soared towards this absolute purity of sky so its imminent threat, half-perceived at first, filled him with a horror beyond anything he had known. Diana was wearing her green coat again and at some point she must have turned up the collar, for now its red underneath made a shocking contrast with the extreme pallor of her face, the pinched white of her nose and the frosted blue of her lips. Her face showed no expression – she was, as it were, completely alone – and as she had done before she held her head down, bowed over her lap, where her hands, now more loosely clasped, held the diamond, very like a sliver of this brilliant sky itself…’ There’s something quite French in that use of ‘time in the sense of duration’ — the Proustian durée, I suppose. But there’s also something terribly English in the musical hesitancy of the way the phrases fit together. Think back to the first book in this series and it seems inconceivable that something so otherworldly could have a place here. But as time goes by in these chronicles, it’s fascinating to see the author toy with the possibilities of the form so openly; time is constrained, condensed in an impossibly long 1812 to serve the machinations of the plot; but now time also proves endlessly malleable in the service of consciousness.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    It’s true that Jack Aubrey’s expulsion from His Majesty’s Navy at the conclusion of The Reverse of the Medal came about through no real fault of his own, and that for a man who has constructed his entire life and identity around his naval service this would be a terrible blow, even if deserved. His sour mood and self-pity nonetheless feel a little excessive, in my opinion. How many other men in his position would also shortly find themselves skippering their favourite former command, the frigate It’s true that Jack Aubrey’s expulsion from His Majesty’s Navy at the conclusion of The Reverse of the Medal came about through no real fault of his own, and that for a man who has constructed his entire life and identity around his naval service this would be a terrible blow, even if deserved. His sour mood and self-pity nonetheless feel a little excessive, in my opinion. How many other men in his position would also shortly find themselves skippering their favourite former command, the frigate Surprise, coincidentally released from naval service and immediately bought and outfitted with their best friend’s recent windfall and, given Aubrey’s magnificent reputation, manned with the very best sailors and gunners available? ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey should count himself lucky indeed that he happens to be the protagonist of a series of naval adventure novels whose author is by no means finished with him. The Letter of Marque is the first novel in the series which sees Jack acting as commander of a “private man-of-war” (a polite term for a privateer) and itching to chart a path back towards pardon and reinstatement. By the conclusion of the novel that return to grace is all but guaranteed, after a spectacularly successful cutting-out expedition and Aubrey’s further good fortune with the death of his trouble-making father resulting in his inheritance of a seat in Parliament. It’s clear that O’Brian intended for this not to be some permanent change in career path, but rather a brief aside; a unique episode in Aubrey’s life which, from the perspective of a historical fiction writer, serves as an examination of the privatised side of harassing enemy shipping, particularly the change in rules, organisation, etiquette and deference which result when Captain Aubrey is no longer a king’s officer. It’s in this spirit that the series is perhaps beginning what Philip Reeve describes as its transformation from straight historical fiction to historical romance, in the 19th century meaning of the word “Romantic.” O’Brian’s world is as realistic as ever, but there’s a hint of Jack and Stephen becoming celebrities, of a kind, even outside the Royal Navy. After his father’s funeral, before his half-brother returns to school, the young lad asks Jack if he might have an autograph or a souvenir to show his peers; a little earlier, Jack is the guest of honour at a London dinner attended by extremely powerful men who all seem a little in awe of him. This sort of public adulation really did happen in the Nelsonic era, but along with Aubrey and Maturin’s ongoing immense luck, the rather pat resolution of Stephen and Diana’s schism, and the promise of another intercontinental sea voyage in the making (because Aubrey’s particular skills and desires happen to align with the Admiralty’s need for Stephen to be in certain places) all combine to create a sense that we are leaving the more realistic groundings of earlier books beyond the stern horizon, and looking forward to adventures in which our disbelief may have to be suspended a tad more than it was in the past. I don’t mind any of that one jot. These books are as much a joy to read as ever. The cutting out expedition to the fictional French port of St Martin’s is one of O’Brian’s better battle scenes, as enemy officers on horseback rush down to the quay in the middle of the action and leap aboard the half-hijacked ship – in the ensuing melee, Jack is shot in the back, and thinks at the time that a horse has kicked him, remarking several days later to one of his officers: “What did he do to you, sir?” “Well, I am ashamed to say he took a pistol-ball out of the small of my back. It must have been when I turned to hail for more hands – thank God I did not. At the time I thought it was one of those vile screws that were capering about abaft the wheel.” “Oh, sir, surely a horse would never have fired off a pistol?” I also particularly liked this deadpan line, after Maturin takes his small boat out to an island in the bay where the Surprise is moored to inspect the local wildlife, and Jack then swims out to help him after observing the doctor has unwittingly let his boat become high and dry: “…Stephen, have you forgot breakfast?” “I have not. My mind has been toying with thoughts of coffee, stirabout, white pudding, bacon, toast, marmalade and more coffee, for some considerable time.” “Yet you would never have had it until well after dinner, you know, because your boat is stranded and I doubt you could swim so far.” “The sea has receded!” cried Stephen. “I am amazed.” “They tell me it does so twice a day in these parts,” said Jack. “It is technically known as the tide.” (Stephen is of course not this ignorant, merely easily distracted from practical matters, and his line about being amazed is the joking banter of close friends; O’Brian wryly reminds us that he grew up on “the Mediterranean, that unebbing sea.”) And not a comedic line this time, but rather a beautiful description: a conversation Maturin has with a dinner guest who describes to him the sensation of flying in a hot-air balloon, something which has recently come to fascinate the doctor, and a passage which – like the encounter with a blue whale in frigid southern seas in Desolation Island – underscores once again how things we in the 21st century take for granted must have appeared truly marvellous to 19th century eyes: Stephen devoted his whole attention to his right-hand neighbour, who had made an ascent, and a glorious ascent, at the time of the first enthusiasm before the war. He was too young and foolish, he said, to have recorded any of the technical details, but he did still retain that first vivid sense of astonishment, awe, wonder and delight when, after a slow, grey and anxious passage through mist, the balloon rose up into the sunlight: all below them and on every hand there were pure white mountains of cloud with billowing crests and pinnacles, and above a vast sky of a darker, far darker, purer blue than he had ever seen on earth. A totally different world, and one without any sound. The balloon rose faster in the sun – they could see their shadow on the sea of cloud – faster and faster. “Dear Lord,” he said, “I can see it now; how I wish I could describe it. That whole enormous jewel above, the extraordinary world below, and our fleeting trace upon it – the strangest feeling of intrusion.” The Aubrey-Maturin series is entirely about the smaller moments. It’s what makes reviewing them so hard: few of them are self-contained as novels and nearly all of them, The Letter of Marque in particular, are heavily influenced by what has come before and what is yet to come. So I find myself again merely plucking out moments I enjoyed or admired, and leaving you with an exhortation to read the series. The Letter of Marque is perhaps one of its weaker entries, but only because it’s such a very high bar to clear. I still enjoyed every sentence of it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Patrick O'Brian was hitting on all cylinders here. The Aubrey-Maturin saga continues to gain depth as a remarkable piece of fictional biography, combining naval history, music, natural history, soap opera, politics, humor and rousing adventure. After subjecting his characters to terrible difficulties in The Reverse of the Medal, the present book offers a rather more upbeat story. Some of this I read, and some I listened to Patrick Tull's wonderful reading. For me, the humor comes through more str Patrick O'Brian was hitting on all cylinders here. The Aubrey-Maturin saga continues to gain depth as a remarkable piece of fictional biography, combining naval history, music, natural history, soap opera, politics, humor and rousing adventure. After subjecting his characters to terrible difficulties in The Reverse of the Medal, the present book offers a rather more upbeat story. Some of this I read, and some I listened to Patrick Tull's wonderful reading. For me, the humor comes through more strongly in the audiobook, with Tull's droll characterizations as a good vehicle for O'Brian's dry and understated ironic wit. This was a hugely enjoyable page-turner.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Sheer delight. While I defer in advance to any feminist or intersectional analysis from Wealhtheow whenever she gets around to this one, I enjoyed it perhaps more than anything in the series since H.M.S. Surprise. (view spoiler)[It helps that both Jack and Stephen have such happy outcomes to their adventures after a long stretch of troubles, but what are long series for if not, in part, the odd volume of wish-fulfillment? (hide spoiler)] Sheer delight. While I defer in advance to any feminist or intersectional analysis from Wealhtheow whenever she gets around to this one, I enjoyed it perhaps more than anything in the series since H.M.S. Surprise. (view spoiler)[It helps that both Jack and Stephen have such happy outcomes to their adventures after a long stretch of troubles, but what are long series for if not, in part, the odd volume of wish-fulfillment? (hide spoiler)]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I've been listening to the Aubrey/Maturin series during my commute to and from work and while painting kitchen cabinets. I love their language and the humor, which is so understated you have to be prepared for it. These characters are so honorable and loyal to each other and their status in life that you can't help but admire them as they go through these adventures. The first book, Master and Commander was a movie with Russel Crowe and it is a great start to see if you will like this series. Fu I've been listening to the Aubrey/Maturin series during my commute to and from work and while painting kitchen cabinets. I love their language and the humor, which is so understated you have to be prepared for it. These characters are so honorable and loyal to each other and their status in life that you can't help but admire them as they go through these adventures. The first book, Master and Commander was a movie with Russel Crowe and it is a great start to see if you will like this series. Full of English Navel history, you can't help but learn something at the same time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I can't say enough how much I really enjoy listening to these Aubry/Maturin sea stories. The seamen and ships and stories of the battles are fascinating and the characters so well written. This story, back in the Surprise was no exception. A different Jack Aubrey, now out of the service, but a compelling sea voyage and prizes for all at the end. I am happy to leave them until - next time. I can't say enough how much I really enjoy listening to these Aubry/Maturin sea stories. The seamen and ships and stories of the battles are fascinating and the characters so well written. This story, back in the Surprise was no exception. A different Jack Aubrey, now out of the service, but a compelling sea voyage and prizes for all at the end. I am happy to leave them until - next time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josie B.

    I listened to the audio book read by Patrick Tull. He does a fantastic job bringing the charactors alive. I am totally hooked on this series now.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard Due

    O'Brian is brilliant at making me think one thing is going to happen, and then have something completely different happen instead. O'Brian is brilliant at making me think one thing is going to happen, and then have something completely different happen instead.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gonzalo

    “The Letter or Marque” is a very direct continuation of “The Reverse of the Medal,” so much so they could have been the same book. We find Jack stripped of his rank and commanding the privateer “Surprise”, owned by Stephen. Two short naval actions, albeit one very intense, initiate a book that once more takes place mostly on land. I reiterate what I said in the previous volume: That is perfectly fine for me. We get to see the very much-anticipated reunion between Stephen and Diana, which should “The Letter or Marque” is a very direct continuation of “The Reverse of the Medal,” so much so they could have been the same book. We find Jack stripped of his rank and commanding the privateer “Surprise”, owned by Stephen. Two short naval actions, albeit one very intense, initiate a book that once more takes place mostly on land. I reiterate what I said in the previous volume: That is perfectly fine for me. We get to see the very much-anticipated reunion between Stephen and Diana, which should bring joy to any reader whose heart is actually not made of oak. We also get to see Jack reinstated, or about to be so, thanks to the timely death of his father, and a sit in parliament. Obviously, lefties like me want to see Aubrey working for the state, and not seeking fortune on his own. However, it could have happened in the next book. It is true that O’Brian does—as with everything else—a fine work conveying in very few pages how much Jack’s life changes, even when he still has the same ship. Nevertheless, I would have preferred seeing our hero suffer a bit longer the entrepreneurial life. If we can wait to see the end of Wray, we can also wait for this. Still, I am up for some politicking, so I welcome John Aubrey election as MP. As a side note, it gave me a very eighties vibe with Stephen’s—and Padin’s—addiction to laudanum and coca leaves. I do not know how much O’Brian was taking from his immediate surroundings, or if it is just the perennial problem of substance abuse. Again, if someone can write a good “Kids, don’t do drugs” story, that is Patrick O’Brian. Now, time to meet El Supremo! Ooops, wrong saga!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.