Friday, August 14, 2009

The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian

I couldn't close out a summer of reading without reviewing a Patrick O'Brian book -- he's my very favorite author, and his series of 20 "Aubrey/Maturin" books make up one of the great epic adventures in all of literature. I happen to be re-reading this one right now (I tend to read the whole series and then go back and start right in at the beginning again, so I constantly have at least one O'Brian book going) -- this is the volume that the Russell Crowe movie "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" was partially based on (you can also find the movie DVD in the Leatherby Libraries - and it's good, but the books are oceans better!). So this is sort of a review of the whole Aubrey/Maturin series.

I could write MUCH more, but suffice it to say that this is not just a series about a British Navy captain (Aubrey) and his ship's-surgeon/spy sidekick (Maturin) -- these novels re-create the entire world of the early 1800s, from history and sociology to language (oh, the language!), culture, politics, religion, science, philosophy, and so much more. When you read O'Brian, you fully and completely enter that world. But more than that, his characters come so vividly to life - you completely fall in love with the robust Jack Aubrey and clever Stephen Maturin and their shipmates and their women and even their enemies (sometimes). And then there's all that sailing stuff - the books are packed with the lamguage and jargon of sailing ships, and you can even buy lexicons to help you understand what the heck all those terms mean. But it doesn't matter -- you figure it out in the end, and you're swept away by the magic of the adventure and the sheer beauty of O'Brian's writing. Read them -- read them all!

Leatherby Libraries Call Number: PR6029.B55 F37 1992
2nd Floor Humanities Library
Review submitted by: Mary Platt, Director of Communications
Rating: Highly Recommended

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