Master and Commander


Master and Commander cover

Author:  Patrick O’Brian

Title: Master and Commander

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date:  1970

Geographical Setting:  The Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean Sea

Time Period:  The dawn of the 19th century

Series: The Aubrey/Maturin Series

Plot Summary:  Jack Aubrey, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy of Great Britain, has just received a promotion to Captain, and is granted command of his own ship: a 14-gun brig called the Sophie.  Based out of Port Mahon on the island of Minorca, Aubrey quickly transforms the old, slow brig into the bane of Spanish and French shipping in the waters of the western Mediterranean.  Hungry for prize money, Aubrey displays consummate seafaring skill in his various cruises around the Mediterranean, assisted by his crew and his new friend, confidant, and ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin.  Maturin himself is revealed to be harboring a double life as an intelligence agent for the British Crown, and their adventures harassing the French and Spanish climax in a showdown between the outgunned Sophie and the Spanish frigate, Cacafuego.

Subject Headings:  Historical Fiction; British Royal Navy; Napoleonic Wars; Sailing and Seamanship; Naval Tactics;

Appeal:  densely written, steady, atmospheric, detailed, realistic, well-developed, action-oriented, authentic, well-crafted, well-researched, details of sailing and seafaring, dramatic

Three terms that best describe this book:  detailed, authentic, historically accurate

Similar Authors and Works:

Non-Fiction –

Roy Adkins and Leslie Adkins – The war for all the oceans: from Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo:  A naval account of the Napoleonic Wars, this work uses eyewitness accounts to describe various naval engagements and also describes the lives of typical sailors of the period.

Frederick W. Kagan – The end of the old order: Napoleon and Europe, 1801-1805: An account of Napoleon’s rise to power that follows critical events and key personalities and their roles in the greater conflict.

Nathan Miller – Broadsides: the age of fighting sail, 1775-1815:  A history of naval warfare between the American Revolution and the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Fiction –

Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Tiger: Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Seringapatam, 1799:  The first book in the Richard Sharpe series.  Cornwell details the career of Richard Sharpe, a private in the British army who must infiltrate a city under siege to make contact with a Scottish spy.

Anthony Forest – Captain Justice:  British naval officer and agent of the Crown, Captain John Justice, is tasked with locating another missing agent and either assisting with or taking on himself the original plan to sabotage a French invasion fleet.

C.S. Forester – Mr. Midshipman Hornblower:  The first book in the Horatio Hornblower series, it follows a young Horatio Hornblower as he enters the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of 17 on the Indefatigable.  The book’s primary focus is on the rise of Hornblower as he relies upon his own merits and wits to climb the ranks.

Name:  Garrett Gottschalk


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