Thursday, December 28, 2006

BOOKS | Reading The Mauritius Command

I've just finished H.M.S. Surprise and have leapt straight into The Mauritius Command. When I last left Aubrey, he was honoured for defending the Company fleet from a notorious French admiral, and he was going to marry sweet Sophie. Now, a few pages into The Mauritius Command, Aubrey is without a command, on half-pay, married with to Sophie with twin daughters. They live in a squalid little cottage with Sophie's niece, Cecilia, and with Mrs Williams, his mother-in-law who has fallen into hard time. Sophie lost her dowry when Mrs Williams lost her fortune, and money is tight.

At this point in the series I notice the Aubrey-Maturin books have this structure that is so predictable — the novels always end on a (naval) high note for Aubrey. But by the next book Aubrey (on land) is destitute or at least in some kind of distress — worrying about being made post-captain, being cheated of his prize or something similar. Each book is about the rise and fall of the fortunes of Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, and in between you see Aubrey and Maturin looking out for each other, playing out their weaknesses and their strength in moments of human drama. You know how it's going to end — yet it is still intoxicating when you do come to the grand finale. Because O'Brian gives you just what you want every time — the good prevails, solid human gallantry rising above petty politics and intrigue.

I've just finished H.M.S. Surprise and have leapt straight into The Mauritius Command. When I last left Aubrey, he was honoured for defending the Company fleet from a notorious French admiral, and he was going to marry sweet Sophie. Now, a few pages into The Mauritius Command, Aubrey is without a command, on half-pay, married with to Sophie with twin daughters. They live in a squalid little cottage with Sophie's niece, Cecilia, and with Mrs Williams, his mother-in-law who has fallen into hard time. Sophie lost her dowry when Mrs Williams lost her fortune, and money is tight.

At this point in the series I notice the Aubrey-Maturin books have this structure that is so predictable — the novels always end on a (naval) high note for Aubrey. But by the next book Aubrey (on land) is destitute or at least in some kind of distress — worrying about being made post-captain, being cheated of his prize or something similar. Each book is about the rise and fall of the fortunes of Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, and in between you see Aubrey and Maturin looking out for each other, playing out their weaknesses and their strength in moments of human drama. You know how it's going to end — yet it is still intoxicating when you do come to the grand finale. Because O'Brian gives you just what you want every time — the good prevails, solid human gallantry rising above petty politics and intrigue.

So every Aubrey-Maturin novel throws Aubrey to the ground, and allows the man to rise to his feet, fists ready for one big fight at the end.

I am hooked, I am oddly hooked and I want to read all the Aubrey-Maturin books in sequence.

6 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

I'm interested in these books -- I've read the first -- but not quite hooked yet, and not sure I want to embark on reading all 20 of them. But maybe ???

Dark Orpheus said...

I admit it took a while before I was truly hooked. Probably around "Post-Captain" or "H.M.S. Surprise" -- Aubrey and Maturin just sort of grow into you.

I'm not sure why I signed myself up for a 20 books commitment. Ah. I am foolish human.

Imani said...

I've never tried the books but I did love "Master and Commander" (the movie) and the soundtrack, along with the classical albums Amazon recommends if you read the series. Very nice stuff.

Dark Orpheus said...

Imani: Ah, I read "Master and Commander" because I enjoyed the film. I am a Russell Crow fan in spite of the weird looks I keep getting from my friends. Hee. And Paul Bettany is always good.

I think Russell Crowe makes a convincing sea Captain. He has that beefy masculine charisma, and he looks like he could command respect on a man-of-war, and hack at a few heads if he has to.

Imani said...

Probably because he's hacked at a few heads in real life. Ha!

bloglily said...

I've been watching my husband read these books -- in order -- every night for years and years. He only reads a few pages, he only reads them at night, and he loves them. Jane Austen on the water, I say, and he nods distractedly, wanting me to shut up so he can get back to Aubrey and Maturin, who're as real to him as the woman next to him yammering on about Austen (maybe more real, come to think of it). When he's done, I might begin them and then he can interrupt me!