so i have been considering reading master and commander because even though i have no idea what’s going on here i’m enjoying your posts about it thoroughly but i think the casual coffee thievery (?) is what will tip me over the edge. thank you for previous content and if you have anything else that may convince me to try this book please i would love to hear it

Gawd.  Master and Commander. THE AUBREY-MATURIN SERIES. 

Okay Anon this may or may not be the encouragement you’re looking for, but I got hyperfixated on a 21-NOVEL SAGA AND MOVIE at the best/worst of times, and I WANT TO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT IT. ALL HANDS TO MAKE SAIL!!!!

So THIS POST gives a pretty awesome overview of the Aubreyad (alternatively: the Maturineid) in all its ridiculous glory, especially the funny parts.  And THIS POST gives you a quick snapshot of the first novel, Master and Commander. 

BASICALLY: Master and Commander is the first book of a 20 (21, if you count the last unfinished book) novel series revolving around Captain “Lucky Jack” Aubrey, a captain in the British Navy in the early 1800s, and Doctor Stephen Maturin, his ship’s surgeon/ardent naturalist/revolutionary/secret spy against Napoleon.  They meet-cute in Master and Commander when Jack gets his very first ship.   Shenanigans Ensue for the rest of their married lives, including:

  • The famous escape from France with Jack wearing a fursuit
  • Jack’s ridiculous 14 gun sloop taking a 32 gun xebec, his half-drowned fourth-rate one-shotting a
    74 gun ship of the line in the middle of a storm (Scary Bote!!!), and other exciting historically accurate feats of naval daring
  • 60,000 bees loose on the ship (Stephen feels zero remorse)
  • Pride and Prejudice, but with more Needless Drama and sea voyages
  • “Jack, you have debauched my sloth!”
  • Winning the Hearts of the Crew ™ with Good Leadership and Rousing Out the Gunner’s Brains
  • Alliances with the most noble Nutmeg of Consolation, in more than one way

Although Patrick O’brian began writing this series in the 1960s, the entire thing is written in Regency-era Austen-esque prose.  The pros of this are a TON of dry humor and a lot of jokes and tongue-in-cheek moments revolving around period conventions that would be unremarkable in an actual Regency-era novel, but which Patrick O’brian can sort of wink-wink nudge-nudge with a modern audience.  The cons are some unfortunate period-accurate slurs (O’Brian works hard to make Jack and Stephen problematic enough to be men of their time, while as unobjectionable as possible in their essential behavior/beliefs/morals) and a CRAP-TON of naval jargon, tall-ship lingo, and references to countries and political entities that no longer exist by that name. 

It is a wonderfully detailed and endearing read-through the first time around, although I’m on my first re-read and honestly?  The Aubreyad is almost better the SECOND time through.  This time, I understand enough of the naval jargon to really appreciate how improbable and explosive some of Jack’s victories are, and to notice the little emotional moments that sometimes get lost when you aren’t used to the prose.  Jack and Stephen are such vividly drawn characters, both in their flaws and their preferences and the way their relationship affects them that you can’t help but get attached. 

Also, if you can see the movie first, I would recommend it.  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is named after a book in the middle of the Aubreyad, but really the movie is a pastiche of some of the most memorable scenes in the books.  I watched the movie before and after the Aubreyad, and honestly? The movie is SPOT ON.  Besides going balls to the wall for historical accuracy, the movie really just CAPTURES Jack and Stephen right down to the little mannerisms that they have in battle and with each other.  It always helps me personally to have a face canon that I like when reading :))). 

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Tags: okay, going back in, perhaps.

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