Naval historical fiction: Patrick O

Go thou and beg, borrow or steal Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander and enter into a world of entertaining adventure and moving friendships.

O’Brian’s hero, gregarious Jack Aubrey, and his geeky sidekick Stephen Maturin are such well-developed characters, I half expect to turn a corner and run into them someday—despite knowing they led wholly fictional lives during the Napoleonic wars.

O’Brian’s finely crafted prose is such an incredibly satisfying pleasure to read—right up there with Dickens and Austen on my reading-pleasure scale. And he jokes a lot. If you don’t mind potty humor, here’s a sample:

. . . a broad veranda with a number of domesticated creatures on it, marmosets of three different kinds, an old bald toucan, a row of sleepy parrots, something hairy in the background that might have been a sloth or an anteater or even a doormat but that it farted from time to time, looking round censoriously on each occasion, and a strikingly elegant small blue heron that walked in and out.

Our local library has the books. I have some decent audiobook versions, if you’d like to borrow from me.


The series chronology. Best to read the 20 books in order.

Thomas CochraneAppreciation – not quite a full review – of the books.

Master and Commander, the movie inspired by the O’Brian books and starring Russell Crowe. Recommended.

This here fellow is Thomas Cochrane, a real-life inspiration for the naval adventure writers. Naval battles and trickery, pistol duels, eloping, inventing things, getting sentenced to the pillory, commanding the Chilean Navy, … he was one wild and crazy guy.