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Extended Audio Sample The Commodore, by Patrick O’Brian Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,739 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Patrick O’Brian Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Aubrey–Maturin Series Release Date:
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This is the seventeenth novel in the bestselling 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, 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’s disastrous. His little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared. The child has been left in the care of the widowed Clarissa Oakes.

Much of the story takes place on land, but the roar of the great guns is never far. Soon 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 climax of the story is one of those grand, thrilling fleet actions on which the British Navy’s supremacy was founded.

The subtle interweaving of the disparate themes in this wonderfully wrought novel is an achievement of pure storytelling by one of our greatest novelists.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The acclaim that Patrick O’Brian’s prodigious…seafaring sequence is receiving must eventually make its two central characters…one of the most memorable literary double acts of the twentieth century…[It is] one of the best and most authentic historical time machines I have ever encountered.”

    William Boyd

  • 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.”

    Boston Sunday Globe

  • “O’Brian’s stunning range, coupled with his mind-bending command of minutiae, explain why James Hamilton-Paterson has called him ‘the Homer of the Napoleonic Wars.’”


  • “As always, O’Brian tells his tale with great historical and nautical accuracy. Those who have sailed these seas before will happily go along on this latest voyage.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “O’Brian’s tales offer many pleasures: complex, intriguing plots; strong relationships, particularly the friendship of Aubrey and Maturin; colorful supporting characters; rich historical detail; brisk description of ships and their rigging, and weather and its effects.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nelson | 2/16/2014

    " It's been a while (The Mauritius Command, if memory serves) since we've gotten to see Aubrey in the company of other commanders and profit by noting the differences. O'Brian is up to some of his usual tricks in having the different captains stand as symbols of what Jack might have become had he not possessed his particular blend of discipline and camaraderie. Duff, a pederast who sleeps with his favorites, is perhaps the most extreme example of a captain rewarding his underlings to the degree that they become his catamites; whereas Thomas is an inflexible disciplinarian more interested in petty appearances and regulations than fighting or sailing well. Both men are inadequate as captains because of their excesses and much of the novel's drama derives from Aubrey's need to meld them into a proper fighting force in order to carry out his orders. From Maturin's point of view, the drama is nearly entirely domestic: he finally returns home to meet his daughter (seemingly an autistic 'natural' but in fact a delicate and budding girl who needs only the inarticulate supervision of Padeen to begin to blossom into language) who has been left in the care of Clarissa Oakes (from a couple novels back) while his wife runs off to Ireland. There is some minor drama to be found in Aubrey's situation as well, due to his meddling (and now bookie) mother-in-law and mutual (somewhat merited) jealousy between himself and Sophie. Nearly all of this comes right, as it so often does in O'Brian's world. The end is perhaps the most vertiginous in the series to date. O'Brian has often evidenced a quickening of the plot as the pages dwindle, but nothing compared to this. In a matter of a handful of pages, the final decisive naval engagement occurs, and Maturin is, at very long last, reunited with his wife. The scene is absolutely, utterly pitch perfect, and as good as anything O'Brian has done to this point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Greg Bailey | 2/15/2014

    " Previously read June 1, 2009. Aubrey leads a squadron of ships against slave traders, then intercepts a French invasion fleet off Ireland. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ahf | 2/13/2014

    " I still love this series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Moses Operandi | 2/12/2014

    " Probably my favorite Aubreyad novel since Desolation Island--exquisite, fulfilling, satisfying. "

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