Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Author of the Month: Patrick O'Brian

Picture borrowed from The World of Patrick O'Brian website.

As a kid I used to enjoy reading tales of adventure and derring-do on the high seas. The defeat of the Spanish Armada, tall tales about various pirates, books on men-of-war - HMS Victory in particular - and accounts of Trafalgar all passed before the eyes at one point or another.

But sometime during the teenage years my tastes changed and gradually I forgot most of what I had read and even why I had read it in the first place.

An interest in stories naval was however recently rekindled when, after my wife gave me a well-known e-reader as a Christmas present, I discovered the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian amongst a massive stash of mobi-format books sent by a friend.

I hadn't read any of the books before, but having heard them mentioned favourably I started reading "Master and Commander".

It was an immediately engaging book. Witty and at times genuinely funny, O'Brian employed an array of voices and beautifully drawn actors to portray the character of a ship and the men who sailed and fought her. I was hooked from the beginning.

Over the next few months I read through the books one after another, rejoicing in Aubrey and Maturin's triumphs, laughing at their quirks and feeling their tragedies. I came to know them both: their loves and their families; their interests, hobby-horses, idiosyncrasies and struggles; their ships, shipmates, and enemies; and, as far as you can with fictional persons, what was in their hearts.

Last week I finished the last of the series, "Blue at the Mizzen", and have been pining a little, in the way you can when something that you don't want to end eventually must.

If the books are taken as single items they are not going to come across as masterpieces. But when read as part of a whole they have a cumulative effect that is wonderful. I can't remember having laughed as much at any books since I was a kid reading Billy Bunter, nor having been as deeply moved by scenes since I first read Lord of the Rings way back when I was ten.

Although I'm writing this as an author of the month post, in Patrick O'Brian's case it should really be author of the year.


  1. Aren't they fantastic? If I had to take one series with me to a desert island it would be PO'B.

  2. If you have interest in not so factious literary work, then Robert Harvey's: Cochrane: The life and exploits of a fighting captain might interest you. Another one is Stephaen Taylors: Commander: Life and exploits of Britains greatest frigate captain. Another one is about Cochrane, second one about Pellew and both books are most entertaining. You might find some similarities :)

    1. Thank you very much! I'll put them on the to-buy list :)

  3. I have read all the books but the last one, and can't bring myself to do it, as I don't want it to end. I have them in hard bound, dust covers laminated, and perfectly lined up on my library shelves for display for all to see. I wish to believe that I am making people think I am a well read intellectual;)

    As another poster has mentioned, a very good book to read is the "Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain's Greatest Frigate Captain", some of OB's stories are based off of some of his exploits (not the book).


    1. That's funny Kevin - in the collection I have there's a posthumously published one to go, and I'm not going to read that, for the same reason as you!


  4. I have nominated your blog for the following

  5. Always enjoy your BatReps and I have double Liebstered your blog.


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