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A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian [Paperback]

Dean King , John B. Hattendorf , J. Worth Estes
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2000 0805066152 978-0805066159 Third Edition, Revised
This comprehensive lexicon provides definitions of nautical terms, historical entries describing the people and political events that shaped the period, and detailed explanations of the scientific, medical, and biblical references that appear in the novels.

Frequently Bought Together

A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian + Harbors and High Seas: An Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian, Third Edition + Patrick O'Brian's Navy
Price For All Three: CDN$ 54.12

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Product Description


"To any disoriented lubber who needs to take a quick bearing on Aubrey's world of staysails and sternposts, it will be a useful compass."--The Economist

"Dean King's lexicon will charm cultists."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"An outstandingly useful passkey to the wooden world of Britain's Royal Navy in the great age of sail."--Sea History

"A gem of a book."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

About the Author

John B. Hattenborf is a professor of maritime history at the United States Naval War College. J. Worth Estes, Ph.D., is a professor of pharmacology at Boston University and a specialist in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century maritime medicine.

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Aubrey-Maturin companion . . . Oct. 22 2002
Subtitled "A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian," this is an absolutely marvelous book, the Third Edition of which includes references to all twenty of the Aubrey-Maturin novels. It scores high in the first test given any alphabetically organized reference book, viz., in looking up an entry, ... There's a wide variety of nautical jargon, period medical terminology, the characters' references to natural history and music, and the foreign words and phrases that crop up in the novels. O'Brian describes a large number of real personages, too, all of whom are succinctly biographed. There's also a pretty detailed timeline for the period 1793-1818, a narrative essay on the ins and outs of the Napoleonic wars, a most illuminating discussion of naval medicine and surgery in Maturin's day, and a nice series of period illustrations of ships and boats for those who can't tell a frigate from a corvette, nor a barge from a launch. This is definitely a book to keep at hand while you work your way through the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You MUST have this book! March 25 2004
This book is absolutely indispensible for the O'Brian fan. Not only is it full of nautical terms for all us poor lubbers, but it contains much more as well. Herein are descriptions of food, wine, medical terms, natural science, a few people, places, ships, and events, and even foreign phrases lifted right out of the Aubrey/Maturin books and translated for your convenience. It also contains a meaty chapter on the Royal Navy, another on medical science of the era (scary!) and a Napoleonic war timeline. All I could ask for is more illustrations and a chapter explaining the basics of sailing.
I've had this book at my elbow constantly since HMS Surprise (3rd in the series). You'll wonder how you ever got along without it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's essential Sept. 19 2002
The one annoyance about this book (for people like me, who came to Patrick O'Brian's stories through my own devices, at least) is that, by the time you hear tell off this book, you are several volumes into Mr O'Brian's exquisite series... by which time, you've generally muddled through (with whatever miscellaneous assortment of secondhand reference works you have inherited from elderly relatives) and figured out, by yourself, what a "futtock shroud" might be, or (through sheer perseverance) discovered what a "Greek pollacca" looks like, and much of what this gem of a book could have given you in a flash is already lost!
If you ever find yourself in the privilaged position of being able to recommend Patrick O'Brian's magnificant novels to anyone who is so benighted as to have not yet heard of them, don't leave them in the lurch - funish them with a copy of this most excellent tome, to help them on their way! After all, you will remember the number of times you felt compelled to run to your meagre collection of reference sources to find out what O'Brian writes about with such unswerving authority. Even if you cannot gain from it youself, you know that this is _the_ book to have.
I cannot write too highly of it (and I am an able to write too highly of many things when the spirit takes me :). But, To give a copy of "Master and Commander" to a new initiate of Mr O'Brian without also furishing them with a copy of this book is, quite frankly, to condemn your fellow potential Aubreyites to the same fate as yourself - Heck, even I didn't know what a Dutch Galliot looked like until I bought this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Companion Piece to the Series March 18 2004
While I somewhat enjoyed the task of deciphering and tracking down the myriad of specialized, arcane and obsolete words employed by Patrick O'Brian in his majestic Aubrey-Maturin series, the discovery of this book provided a much more concise and handy way of doing this.
O'Brian's vast vocabulary and vast knowledge of seagoing nomenclature as well as late 18th and early 19th century social mores is impressive. This book allows one to appreciate the level of scholarship applied by O'Brian. However, this is much more than a simple glossary. It includes short biographies of leading personages of the day, histories of important battles, diagrams of ships and rigging and geographical references.
While one can probably get along without this book; assuming one has access to a good dictionary, encyclopedia and other reference books, this tome certainly eases the task.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable reference April 18 2002
Dean King has done all lovers of naval history novels a great service with this book. Aimed specifically at the Aubrey/Maturin series, it nevertheless provides an invaluable wealth of detailed information about the whole of the period around the turn of the 19th Century.
Not only does it translate obscure Naval terms, it also explains obsolete Georgian phraseology; describes major naval battles; eminent naval personalities & statesmen; Latin & French phrases common during the period; explanations of classical references; medical & natural history terminology - in short, all that you need as a companion to naval literature.
I got this book after reading all the Aubrey/Maturin series - if only I'd had this at the time, I could have saved myself hours of searching through multiple reference books.
A MUST for all naval history buffs.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely amazing resource
Wow, all I can say is wow. One of the finest glossaries of nautical and late 18th-early 19th century social terms that I have ever come across. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2006 by Travis Weir
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 Shinning Stars for this BOOK! Excellent!
When I started to read "Master and Commander", I was completely lost in the "sea of words", the nautical vocabulary. Read more
Published on June 12 2004 by Leslie A. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Handy companion
A good book to have along for the ride, when all those never-seen-before terms come up. And that doesn't include just the marine ones. Read more
Published on May 11 2004 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource
I'd actually read all of the books before finding this gem, and now I can look forward to enjoying the O'Brian books all over again. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2004 by Lady Shelley
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference for the Aubrey/Maturin Series
For someone starting out in the Aubrey/Maturin (or any other sea stories, for that matter), this is an excellent companion. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars For God's sake buy this!
The reason for that review title is to alleviate the inevitable brain hemorrage that will result if you attempt to read Patrick O'brian's novels without a thorough 18th Century... Read more
Published on Dec 8 2002 by D. A Butler
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but not perfect companion to O'Brian
I found the book, which does not appear to have been authorized or endorsed by O'Brian or his publishers, to be generally terrific, highly readable, and a way to help quench the... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002 by Frank Catalina
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST Have
If you are reading the Aubrey-Maturin books, this is an absolute MUST! Not only is it fascinating to browse, but it helps greatly to clarify the ubiquitous nautical jargon. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2001 by DBA
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