Friday, April 18, 2014

Give you joy of your flag, Jack

Having finished the "Wheel of Time", my next book was "Blue at the Mizzen", the last complete Aubrey/Maturin novel by Patrick O'Brian. (There is one more, incomplete, book which I shall read next month, but there's very little to that.) And so, twenty months after it began, my adventure on Jack's ocean comes to an end.

The series began at a nice, clean threshold - Lieutenant Jack Aubrey is promoted to "Master and Commander", and thus given his first command. In the first chapter he also makes the acquaintance of a fellow music-lover, an Irish doctor named Maturin. And so it begins.

The series then follows the ups and downs of these two fast friends across the years, as they serve in Britain's wars against Napoleon's France, against the US in the War of 1812, and, in the last volume, in the post-war period after Waterloo.

And they're great. It's hard to encapsulate just how great the series is - the movie is good enough in itself (and was the reason I read the series), but it pales before the novels - with both the extremely-human protagonists, their friendship, their fallings-out, their strengths, and their weaknesses; the depiction of the world that is at once very different from ours, and yet utterly relatable; and, of course, the simple adventure of it all.

And then, the series ends at a nice, clean threshold - Commodore Jack Aubrey is promoted to "Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron", the culmination of his career, and the fulfilment of the ambition he had expressed right in the first book. It's almost perfect in its symmetry.

I can't recommend the series enough.

There's just one problem: I'm done now. So, what now?

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