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Well I finally started book one and I'm 150 pages in and thoroughly enjoying it so far. Ting has mentioned somewhere above about O'Brian's easy writing style, IE his ability to write in such a way that makes reading so easy. I liked the way he slowly introduced the characters before setting out upon the sea. It gives the reader far more investment in the story. So far I'm hooked so I think I'll be setting out on the twenty book voyage over the next two or three years  :)

 

It's a journey well worth taking, Tay. And I am sort of, kind of embarking all over again myself, as I have just received two important books that could smooth your passage.They are: "A Sea of Words" and "Harbours and High Seas" both by Dean King, focusing on the life and times of our two friends.  I have just started H&HS, which gives a great deal of explanation novel by novel and have a feeling that had I had it to hand earlier, I may have had better luck with a couple of novels I found hard to get into.

Happy sailing, Tay!

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Well I finished book one and I loved it. Such a great mix of facts and fabulous fiction all blended within superb story telling. The pages seem to turn themselves. I was asking another avid reader if they'd ever read Master & Commander only to be told he'd read the full twenty books four times and had just started on his fifth time! so I've a bit of a way to go yet. I'll let you know how I get on with each book Ting :-) and I'll be interested to hear about the two Dean King books. 

 

It's a journey well worth taking, Tay. And I am sort of, kind of embarking all over again myself, as I have just received two important books that could smooth your passage.They are: "A Sea of Words" and "Harbours and High Seas" both by Dean King, focusing on the life and times of our two friends.  I have just started H&HS, which gives a great deal of explanation novel by novel and have a feeling that had I had it to hand earlier, I may have had better luck with a couple of novels I found hard to get into.

Happy sailing, Tay!

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I have A Sea of Words, acquired very late in my reading of the series.  I loved it and wished I'd had it when I was first reading the books.  Interestingly, I gave up on the first book until my younger brother nagged me to try again because he knew I'd love it.  He was right.  So if you loved that one, you'll really love the rest of them.

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I'm currently reading the Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon.  In one of the books this series is mentioned...

 

"Four years ago, Brunetti had been abandoned by his wife of almost twenty years for a period of more than a month while she systematically read her way through, at his count, eighteen sea novels dealing with the unending war between the British and the French.  The time had seemed no less long to him, for it was a time when he, too, ate hasty meals, half-cooked meat, dry bread, and was often driven to seek relief in excessive quantities of grog." 

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Wow, a huge thread on books I've never heard of, must be really interesting to generate all these pages!

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A wonderful series.  Just wonderful.  Every time this thread comes up, it makes me want to re-read the series.

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The library sent me a book with the meaning and explanation of the various names and locations etc.  Not a book, checked Amazon, all a bit pricey for me and not one of them was in Kindle form.  Will maybe search some of the books out in the New Year.  Saw Master and Commander on DVD and thought it was good.

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Sorry,I've been away a bit and keep trying to catch up with things. I'm so glad there are new fans. As Binker says, every time these books are mentioned you want to start all over again.

 

Well I finished book one and I loved it. Such a great mix of facts and fabulous fiction all blended within superb story telling. The pages seem to turn themselves. I was asking another avid reader if they'd ever read Master & Commander only to be told he'd read the full twenty books four times and had just started on his fifth time! so I've a bit of a way to go yet. I'll let you know how I get on with each book Ting :-) and I'll be interested to hear about the two Dean King books. 

 Tay, those are both reference books, so I won't be posting on them. They are extremely well researched and just add a little bit more info to each story. I really wish I'd had them as I was reading the first time around - which means there is going to have to be a second time around! As soon as everything in my life is 'atanto' :D (at the moment everything is 'ahoo' :( ) Round 2 will begin!

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Hi Ting:  Hope you have a great Christmas with lots of interesting books to read.  I will have to search out Patrick O'Brien's books one by one to see if I can get any of them on Kindle.  The reference book I got from the library is called the Munster book and it has all the references I would imagine are in the 20 volumes.

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Previous reviewers have commented on similarities between O’Brian and Jane Austen and having just read the second novel in the series I would have to agree. The landlocked Aubrey and his affairs of the heart definitely reminded this reader of the plot machinations of Austen. Not that that is a criticism, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I did find this book slower going, especially while the narrative remained on dry land (as previously mentioned by Ting) but even at sea there seemed more drag to the prose as if it was trying to reflect the psychological doldrums Aubrey was fighting with. But I still enjoyed the whole novel and have ordered the third book.

 

One part stood out for me. It was this description of the noise and confusion of battle.

 

“In what we call the slaughter-house, where I was stationed at St.Vincent – that is part of the gun deck in the middle of the ship, sir – you have sixteen thirty-two-pounders in a row, all roaring away as fast as they can load and fire, recoiling and jumping up with a great crash when they are hot, and running out again to fire: and then just overhead you have another row of guns thundering on the deck above. And then the smashing blow as the enemy’s shot hits you, and maybe the crash of falling spars above, and the screams of the wounded. And all this in such a smoke you can hardly see or breathe, and the men cheering like mad, and sweating and gulping down water when there’s a second’s pause.”

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On 1/8/2015 at 17:41, Ting Mikyunyu said:

Book 03 - H. M. S. Surprise

 

There is just one problem with trying to write about a Patrick O’Brian novel and that is - that it’s almost impossible to stop to jot down some notes; or when you have managed to stop, you are so far ahead you can’t find where you wanted to go back to.

‘H. M. S. Surprise’ is the third in the series, and right glad I was to meet the frigate of the title, knowing from the film “Master and Commander, the far side of the world” that she was a favourite ship of her Captain, Jack Aubrey.

There are a lot of adventures in this novel: battles on land, battles at sea and all in exotic places which are beautifully described. There are also some shocking moments, some tender moments and not a little romantic turmoil for both Aubrey and Maturin.  Their relationship is becoming deeper and more interesting as their personalities play off against each other, yet at the same time complementing their shared talents.

We are beginning to learn much more about our main characters, as well as some of the two hundred or so sailors of various nationalities - a number of whom will stay with us for many voyages to come. Each of them has a unique personality: Pullings, midshipman; Bonden, Jack’s coxswain who has no truck with rank and is not afraid to say so; Preserved Killick, Jack's steward who holds Jack to account when Jack’s clothes get shot up and cut up during battle. These and many others keep the ship’s company - and the reader - alive and alert.

As to the Surprise herself, you cannot but begin to love her as deeply as Jack does. It was in this ship that he began his nautical apprenticeship, aged 12 - meaning that she is now an elderly vessel. In the intervening years she had been well cared for, but certainly not to the standards Aubrey would have liked and he spends a great deal of effort, imagination and energy in putting her to rights, so much so that she gets a new lease of life:
“For a glass and more the watch on deck had been waiting for the order to lay aloft and reduce sail before the Lord reduced it Himself; yet still the order did not come. Jack wanted every last mile out of this splendid day’s run; and in any case the frigate’s tearing pace, the shrill song of her rigging, her noble running lift and plunge filled him with delight, a vivid ecstasy that he imagined to be private but that shone upon his face, reserved and indeed somewhat severe - his orders cracked out sharp and quick as he sailed her hard, completely identified with the ship.”

What helps to keep the reader engaged is the way O’Brian keeps a sentence going, phrase upon phrase, rather like the continuous swell and chop of the sea itself. There is a capital storm that lasts for four pages; it left me as exhausted as the Surprises themselves (though a lot drier!):
“ ‘Hold on! Hold on!’ and again the thunder of a falling sea, a mountainous wave; the intolerable pressure on his chest; the total certainty that he must not let go of the sail clutched under him; his legs curled round the bowsprit to hold on: hold on ... strength going. But here was breath again in his bursting lungs and he reared up out of the water bawling’ ‘Man the halliards. D’ye hear me aft? Man the halliards there!’ ”

These novels just get better and better!

 

ETA: edited to remove potential spoilers

Just finished this and once again found myself loving the liquid quality of the writing. O'Brian seems to be able to capture the juxtaposition of the joy and hardships of sailing. As Ting has said we learn more about the main characters in this novel. I especially loved the time spent in India and the Doctor on his walkabouts around the city of Bombay.  

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