Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherriere's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.
The Surgeon's Mate , volume eight in Patrick O'Brian's marvelous collection of seafaring novels (e.g., The Ionian Mission , Audio Reviews, LJ 1/94), continues the saga of Jack Aubrey, a post captain in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars, and his particular friend Stephen Maturin, who is at once a ship's surgeon and a British intelligence agent. What makes this series outstanding is not only its exciting historical plot--set, in this outing, between the renewed war with America and the shifting loyalties of Spain--but the ongoing development of personalities and relationships among the principles: Jack; his wife, Sophie; Stephen; the femme fatale Diana Villiers; and a supporting cast of sailors, admirals, captains, naturalists, and enemy agents worthy of Charles Dickens. The friendship that develops between Jack and Stephen over the course of these novels can only be compared in its psychological complexity to the characters of Henry James. Reader Patrick Tull narrates The Surgeon's Mate capably. This entire series is recommended for libraries wishing to provide their patrons with a rare mix of excitement, historical accuracy, and literary depth.-- Sharon Cumberland, Graduate Ctr., CUNY
"I devoured Patrick O'Brian's 20-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog." -- Christopher Hitchens - Slate "Gripping and vivid... a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit." -- A. S. Byatt "O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin volumes actually constitute a single 6,443-page novel, one that should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century." -- George Will "I haven't read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O'Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn't stop." -- E. O. Wilson - Boston Globe "Patrick O'Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars." -- James Hamilton-Paterson - New Republic "The high seas are his home place-as they were for Melville and Conrad. And his time, the age and era of the great Nelson, is the altogether gracefully resurrected past, in large and small and always in a wealth of shining details. But Patrick O'Brian is a novelist for here and now, someone who shares his splendid vision, his wonderful sense of character, with a growing number of lucky contemporary readers who have found his works." -- George Garrett "I fell in love with his writing straightaway, at first with Master and Commander. It wasn't primarily the Nelson and Napoleonic period, more the human relationships. ...And of course having characters isolated in the middle of the goddamn sea gives more scope. ...It's about friendship, camaraderie. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin always remind me a bit of Mick and me." -- Keith Richards "It has been something of a shock to find myself-an inveterate reader of girl books-obsessed with Patrick O'Brian's Napoleonic-era historical novels... What keeps me hooked are the evolving relationships between Jack and Stephen and the women they love." -- Tamar Lewin - New York Times "[O'Brian's] Aubrey-Maturin series, 20 novels of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, is a masterpiece. It will outlive most of today's putative literary gems as Sherlock Holmes has outlived Bulwer-Lytton, as Mark Twain has outlived Charles Reade." -- David Mamet - New York Times "The Aubrey-Maturin series... far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart." -- Ken Ringle - Washington Post "There is not a writer alive whose work I value over his." -- Stephen Becker - Chicago Sun-Times "The best historical novels ever written... On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives." -- Richard Snow - New York Times Book Review