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The Letter of Marque
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About the Author

Patrick O'Brian is the author of the acclaimed Aubrey-Maturin tales and the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. His first novel, Testimonies, and his Collected Short Stories have recently been reprinted by HarperCollins. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime's contribution to literature. In the same year he was awarded the CBE. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by Trinity College, Dublin. He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.

Reviews

If Jane Austen wrote Royal Navy yarns, they might read like this sequel to Master and Commander and Post Captain (which Norton issues in paperback in August). In the early 1800s, Captain Jack Aubrey, unjustly drummed out of service, is now master of the ``letter of marque'' (privateer) frigate Surprise , secretly owned by Stephen Maturin, ship's doctor/naturalist/abandoned husband/opium-eater and intelligence agent. The major events here are two great sea victories that make Jack a rich folk-hero, and Stephen's winning back of his wife and breaking his laudanum habit. Jack's seamanship and heroism are complemented by Stephen's absent-minded brilliance, their friendship cemented by their shared music-making (violin and cello, respectively). The early-19th-century locutions are fascinating, as are the evocation of period shipboard life (including ship-provisioning and naval lingo), Whitehall politics (rotten boroughs, etc.) and drug addiction (coca leaf-chewing as well as opium-eating). Seafarers and landlubbers alike will enjoy this swift, witty tale of money and love. (Sept.)

'...full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein... Patrick O'Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.' James Hamilton- Paterson 'You are in for the treat of your lives. Thank God for Patrick O'Brian: his genius illuminates the literature of the English language, and lightens the lives of those who read him.' Kevin Myers, Irish Times 'In a highly competitive field it goes straight to the top. A real first-rater.' Mary Renault 'I never enjoyed a novel about the sea more. It is not only that the author describes the handling of a ship of 1800 with an accuracy that is as comprehensible as it is detailed, a remarkable feat in itself. Mr O'Brian's three chief characters are drawn with no less depth of sympathy than the vessels he describes, a rare achievement save in the greatest writers of this genre. It deserves the widest readership.' Irish Times

Originally published in England in 1988, this U.S. publication is the long-awaited sequel to Master and Commander (LJ 12/15/69) and Post Captain (LJ 8/72). It continues the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, ship's doctor. Jack, who has been unfairly dismissed from the British Navy, continues his sea career under a ``Letter of Marque,'' a polite term for a privateer. Stephen struggles to balance his scientific interests, his own inclination toward addiction to laudanum, and his concern for his friend. The author has created two wonderfully contrasting characters in bluff, hearty Aubrey and reedy, intellectual Maturin. Readers will be glad to see these unlikely friends in action again. The historical background of the Napoleonic era, as well as the details of early 19th-century naval warfare, are authentically depicted. An exciting sea story with good character development. Recommended for public libraries.-- C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.

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