The Commodore (Aubrey/Maturin Novels #17) (Paperback)
The seventeenth novel in the best-selling Aubrey/Maturin series of naval tales, which the New York Times Book Review has described as "the best historical novels ever written."
Having survived a long and desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it is disastrous: his little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared, her house being looked after by the widowed Clarissa Oakes.
Much of The Commodore takes place on land, in sitting rooms and in drafty castles, but the roar of the great guns is never far from our hearing. Aubrey and Maturin are sent on a bizarre decoy mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland, where the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness as a secret intelligence agent.
The subtle interweaving of these disparate themes is an achievement of pure storytelling by one of our greatest living novelists.
— E. O. Wilson - Boston Globe
The Commodore is so satisfying...because it is crowded with so many different kinds of pleasures. O'Brian's genius is in his ability to arrange all this material upon the well-constructed frame of an adventure plot....A lyric poet working in the epic form.
— John Ferguson - Boston Sunday Globe
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
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
I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s 20-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog.
— Christopher Hitchens - Slate
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
[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
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
Gripping and vivid… a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit.
— A. S. Byatt
There is not a writer alive whose work I value over his.
— Stephen Becker - Chicago Sun-Times
Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.
— James Hamilton-Paterson - New Republic