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That may sound like a lot to keep track of. However, it's not necessary to carry around a scorecard or ship's roster while reading Blue at the Mizzen. The ostensible issue is whether Jack will finally be promoted to Admiral of the Blue. But long before he hears any word from the Napoleonic era's equivalent of Personnel, he loses half his crew to desertion, his ship undergoes a disastrous collision, and the entire company comes close to perishing in the ice-choked seas off Cape Horn. Meanwhile, the widowed Maturin issues a surprising proposal of marriage to a beautiful, mud-bespattered fellow naturalist while trekking through an African mangrove swamp. (The two lovebirds happen to be searching for a rare variant of Caprimulgus longipennis, the long-tailed nightjar, which they hope to surprise in full mating plumage.)
Still, this is hardly a plot-driven novel. O'Brian takes time to get anywhere, and invariably enjoys the journey more than the arrival. So even as we get constant hints of the climax to come--Jack's spectacular naval action on behalf of the infant Republic of Chile--we don't mind hearing about the nuances of shipboard existence or the secret life of the white-faced tree duck. We're treated, for example, to this snippet about managed care, circa 1816:
Poll, Maggie and a horse-leech from the starboard watch have been administering enemas to the many, many cases of gross surfeit that have now replaced the frostbites, torsions, and debility of the recent past, the very recent past. Strong, fresh, seal-meat has not its equal for upsetting the seaman's metabolism: he is much better kept on biscuits, Essex cheese, and a very little well-seethed salt pork--kept on short commons.And we're grateful! We can only hope that the elderly author will favor us with at least one more novel, so that his avid followers can avoid their own form of short commons. Life without Aubrey and Maturin would be a deprivation indeed. --Andrew Himes --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Mr. O'Brian made his scholarship eminently readable; without his novels, I would never have understood the term "Mizzen" or the full meaning of personal integrity in a man... Read morePublished 22 months ago by David MaY
As close to eroticism as Patrick O'Brian is going to get. Also, many more dinners with 6 removes. Once more for the Horn.Published on May 24 2013 by Arnold Wiren
The end of a great book always produces a letdown for me so it was a double whammy to realize as I turned the last page of Blue at the Mizzen that it was book-series-match. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2002 by David Owen
Thanks to the late Patrick O'Brian for wrapping up the series on an up note. I grew as a mariner with each book in this series from a landlubber to...maybe a ships boy. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2001 by "arrowears"
Patrick O'brien has left this world. His books and charachters have stayed at the turn of the century long ago and far away. Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2000 by david milne
I've read the whole A/M series at least 3-4 times and just can't get enough of it. Commuting 45 minutes each way to work and back daily, I rent a lot of CD/books from a... Read morePublished on May 31 2000 by rentscds
I have read,and bought all of the series. I was disappointed, when comparing with the others in the series. Read morePublished on April 12 2000 by L B Thomas
I picture O'Brian near the end, facing his mortality, wrestling ghosts from WWII, writing in a lonely room at Trinity College in his adopted Ireland, finishing what surely was a... Read morePublished on March 23 2000 by William Charles Daniel
Another great sea story. Goodby my friends. May you allways have the weather gauge.Published on March 19 2000 by TODD R CASPELL