Master and Commander

Master and Commander

Book - 1970
Average Rating:
Rate this:
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1970.
ISBN: 9780393307054
Branch Call Number: OBR
Characteristics: 411 p. : ill.
Alternative Title: Master & commander


From Library Staff

List - Curl up with a classic!
lexophile Apr 12, 2017

Patrick O'Brian creates a vivid portrait of life on board a naval ship in 1800. His wry sense of humour has been compared to Jane Austen's, and his characters, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are one of the great 'odd couple' friendships in literature. This is the book that inspired the Russell C... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Hillsboro_ChrisK Oct 16, 2018

Starts a bit slowly, but it picks up and by the end you'll be hooked for the whole 20-book series.

Jan 12, 2018

Just can't get through it. Aubrey has almost no sympathetic qualities. I hope that the French mock him, the Dutch fleece him, the Spanish thumbscrew him, and the Brits throw him in Newgate.

Jun 06, 2017

The opening salvo of the Aubrey-Maturin epic, in which the surgeon introduces himself to the captain by driving an elbow into his ribs during a chamber-music recital. Fortunately for millions of readers, the two quickly make up. Then they commence one of the great literary voyages of our century, set against an immaculately-detailed backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. This is the place to start--and in all likelihood, you won't be able to stop.

May 08, 2017

The Aubrey-Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian begin with Master and Commander (the series is loosely represented in the movie version starring Russell Crowe), and follow the exploits of Royal Navy captain, "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and his particular friend, a surgeon, naturalist and spy, Stephen Maturin, as the Napoleonic Wars threaten Britain and her allies. Filled with intrigue and couched in prose Jane Austen could have written, they are meticulously researched and filled with dry humor and exciting battles. Some people I know have complained that O'Brian spends too much time explaining the trim of the sails, but it's easy to overlook this flaw for such wonderful storytelling. This first story details the first meeting and voyage of Aubrey and Maturin and a bold sea battle as Aubrey's smaller, outgunned ship, Sophie, takes on a foe much larger than herself, and Aubrey narrowly escapes court-martial. For those who enjoy it, there are 20 other books in the cannon, as well as Harbors and High Seas, a geographical companion to the series, and Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, a gastronomical companion, written by fans. Highly recommend!

Dec 02, 2016

An enjoyable very fun book. I would highly recommend this book (and possibly the series) anytime you are looking for something new to read. But let me qualify and get myself into tons of trouble with the female persuasion. This is a mans book, not that it contains debauchery, sex, brutality, or the like. In fact it is the complete opposite. The long and short of it, this is a story about being a man, one's honor and integrity, truth, regard and protection for all, etc. Captain Aubrey, in light of his short comings, would be a very fair model ant young man would not be lacking in inspiration and role modeling.

The premise of the story takes place during the Napoleonic war. Capt. Aubrey has his first command on small vessel and along with his new friend, Ships Surgeon Maturin, who together battle the challenges of the sea, the enemy, the politics and traditions of the British navy, as well as discipling and maintaining a crew.

Three are a lot of nautical terms that at times get a little complicated, but as a whole, a very well written book. The characters are real, believable, and engaging. The story line and plot is also engaging, adventurous, real. There were times I could almost feel the cold sea spray in my face.

I would put this book as far as story telling along the lines of "Tom Sawyer" or an adult level of the "Hardy Boys". Self reliance, manhood, honesty and integrity, are fully intertwined throughout the whole story. A lot of meat and sound principles the reader can be inspired by.

I am not sure if I will ever get around to reading the whole series of 15 books, but I do know that when I am looking for something to read, this series offers a very good filler for the interim.

May 27, 2016

This is a wonderfully warm book to read. Just get through the initial avalanche of naval terms and I promise it's a funny, fascinating, and touching story.

Jul 23, 2012

When you first read this novel, you may be put off by the navel termonology. Don't let that stop you. I have read the entire series four times. It's trully amazing how OBrian can transport the reader into a believable world of 19th century sealife. But what's more, is the way he draws you into the personal lives of the complex charectors and uses a fine wit to make the stories even more entertaining. An absolute must for any history lover.

Jun 27, 2012

One of the best contemporary authors in the English language, God bless the old gentleman.

May 09, 2012

This is more like a time machine portal- an entry to a world that teems with vivid characters, exciting exploits and beauty. The entire series is over 6,000 pages long-but I was ready to begin again when I finished it the first time. A true epic, I would go so far as to say this is one of best books/series ever written. Nothing but superlatives can describe it.

Nov 20, 2011

My friend John has been recommending this series to me for a few years - he's read it through 3 times now - and I finally had a chance to pick it up and read it, uninterrupted. O'Brian throws the reader into the Napoleonic era, and between the two main characters, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Their friendship grows interestingly over the course of the book, and all the characters are precisely drawn and completely believable. For those of us who don't know seafaring terms, there is a companion book for all that; if you don't want to find that, just read through and you'll pick up on the plot. Great historical novel, with solid characters and setting.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jul 22, 2013

eddymerckx thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 35 and 99


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ORL

To Top