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The Yellow Admiral [Paperback]

Patrick Obrian
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 14 2008
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. All twenty books are being re-issued by Harper Perennial with stunning new jackets. 'The Yellow Admiral' -- the eighteenth novel in the sequence hailed as the greatest series of historical novels ever written -- sets the fall and rise of Jack Aubrey in brilliant counterpoint to the fall and rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour in the storm waters off Brest. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814 peace breaks out. But Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with news that the Chileans require the service of English officers. Jack is savouring this reprieve for his career when he receives an urgent despatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

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From Amazon

At last! Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are back as Patrick O'Brian provides his indomitably loyal fans with another adventure, this one by land as well as by sea. Lucky Jack Aubrey finds himself not so lucky as his troubles amount ashore, his prospects of admiralty dimmed and Sophie's affection waning. At sea, he fares little better: in the storms off Brest he captures a French privateer ladden with gold and ivory at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. And worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out...

Fortunately, Maturin returns from a mission in Chile with news that may help restore Aubrey to good favor with both his beloved navy and wife. Then, off to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

The Yellow Admiral is a change of pace, a reversion to the themes of the earlier novels in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Much of the story takes place on land, giving scope to O'Brian's fascination with the landscape, physical and social, of early nineteenth-century England. In vivid glimpses of various rural pursuits, and nuanced observation of politics and domestic arrangements, O'Brian proves himself ever more surely to be the heir of Jane Austen. Not to say there aren't some rousing and bloody sea-battles! --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

As befits a popular and enduring fictional hero, Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy is besieged on all sides in the 18th installment of O'Brian's splendid 19th-century historical adventure series (The Commodore, etc.). Jack is fighting expensive, possibly ruinous, legal battles with slavers, as well as with rich landowners trying to enclose common lands around his family estate. He must also deal with a Navy superior with a financial interest in the enclosure, who is trying to wreck Jack's career. (If a captain becomes an admiral without a command he is "in the cant phrase... yellowed"). Jack, on blockade duty off Brittany, frets that the impending peace will indeed yellow him; and he's also in for some rough marital weather with his wife, Sophie. Meanwhile, the series' other hero, Irish-Catalan physician Stephen Maturin, who's Jack's best friend, connects in "the dark of the moon" with Chilean independence leaders who may hire Jack to head their own young navy. O'Brian is at the top of his elegant form here. He offers a wealth of sly humor (Navy officers' talk is "really not fit for mixed company because of its profoundly nautical character"), some splendid set pieces (a bare-knuckle boxing match, lively sea actions), characters who are palpably real and, as always, lapidary prose. This is splendid storytelling from a true master. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage O'Brian: as good as books get,. July 15 1998
The Yellow Admiral is as good as any of the previous 17 Aubrey/Maturin novels: as good as novels get. It has occurred to me, and not for the first time as I have read and reread the entire series and observed the whole cast of characters mature, that what we call the Aubrey/Maturin series is really one very long book with eighteen chapters.
One can read the Holmes/Watson books in any order; the characters never change, and I don't recall references by Doyle to previous events, such as those backwards glimpses O'Brian slyly slips to us steady fans from time to time that must sail right over the heads of hit-and-run readers.
With not a molecule of discredit to her genius intended, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot remained the same character through 25 stories, and I'm not aware of any maturation of Miss Jane Marple. Of course, Agatha Christie probably felt that her readers preferred the familiarity that the sameness of characters provided.
What gives me the feat tha! ! t The Yellow Admiral might be the final Aubrey/Maturin episode? Diana never once jumps the traces; Jack mends all his fences at home; Sir Joseph Blaine is very much back in control in his seemingly obscure but influential position with "the Committee;" and Stephen has lived through a volume without a crisis. Then, just as Jack Aubrey has gotten used to the idea of building the Chileans a navy, while on a little respite in Funchal, Madeira, with his family and almost everyone else dear to him, he receives an urgent dispatch from Lord Keith of the Admiralty, advising him that Napoleon has escaped from Elba. Writes Keith: "You are to take all His Majesty's ships and vessels at present in Funchal under your command, hoisting your broad pennant in 'Pamone,' and . . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wait! Wait! June 26 1998
If you have become an Aubrey/Maturin reader, and really like them, save this one for last. It's the last in the series and you need all the history of the previous 17 to appreciate it. It's not the best one, but it is the last. If you don't know what a Yellow Admiral is, for God's sake stop! When you know, and have read up to number 17, then take a break, find a good time to read, and jump into The Yellow Admiral. I wish there were 18 more.
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By A Customer
For those of us who have avidly followed the exploits and conversations of O'Brian's remarkable characters, "The Yellow Admiral"
is a disappointment. Just as the Napoleonic wars have gone flat in this episode, so, too, has the world Aubrey and Maturin. For the first
time I had the feeling that the author was uncertain where to take the tale. Perhaps the characters have now grown too much within themselves
and thus find very little that is fresh in their world. In any event, in this story the sheer joy of life and discovery, and the thrill of
competence that is theirs at sea, is gone, gone, gone. Sour elder middle-age seems to have taken their place.

For those who have followed this series, of course, "The Yellow Admiral" is a must read. But were it not for the long association with
these characters, I would have found the book tedious, undirected, and boring.
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By A Customer
This is another "land-based" book in the series, which is a good thing. Jack Aubry's troubles dealing with land lubbers (whose dishonesty and unstructured ways mystify him to no end) and the often tumultuous relationship between Stephen and Diana are always entertaining. Less exciting than previous books in the series, the characters are definitely slowing down as they get older. Also, not much new happens here; the characters are not really developed further. Despite these shortcomings, is there any writer whose prose is more enjoyable? O'Brian's polished writing, his sly wit, his eye for fascinating detail, his descriptive powers: they're all here in full force. Another caveat: the jacket description reveals almost every plot point in the book. It would have been much more enjoyable not knowing many of these events were going to happen
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By A Customer
In typical O'Brian fashion, the current state of our heroes is reversed in this book. Here we find Aubrey on the downgrade, while Maturin is repairing the damage done him in the previous episode. Certainly a rivetting story that is a pleasure to read, yet the real "happy ending" is left 'til the next installment (we hope!) For those looking solely for naval action, this book is not the best of series. Most of the plot involves Aubrey's difficulties on land and admiralty politics. Personally, I couldn't put it down and am yearning for the next installment
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3.0 out of 5 stars If you got this far in the series, why stop now? Sept. 3 1997
By A Customer
Aubrey & Maturin will always be worth reading, but
this series is definitely getting tired. After
the first three or four books, O'Brian started struggling
and this novel continues the long, long downhill path.

For alternatives, try the grandaddy of them all, the
Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, or the Bolitho stories
from Alexander Kent. Harder to find, try the Drinkwater
series from Richard Woodman (e.g., "An Eye of the Fleet")
or the Ramage series from Dudley Pope. On land, Bernard
Cornwell's Sharpe is pretty good too.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the end?
I have enjoyed this series immensely, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in historical novels with excellent character development. O'Brien is a super writer. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2000 by grafmax
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, so it's a mistake to jump in at the end of the series
My mistake. This is the first of Patrick O'Brien's series that I have read. I found it slow and somewhat puzzling. Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999 by Doug Vaughn
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a pleasant experience
While a more than adequate insight into everyday life in the England of George III, this book serves the uninitiated reader of O'Brian's work poorly. Read more
Published on July 14 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Painfully disappointing
I am an absolute devotee of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. I have read all of them at least three times each. But "The Yellow Admiral" appalled me. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 1998 by
2.0 out of 5 stars O'Brian is running out of steam. So what?
There is an awful lot of recycling going on in this book. The research is still prodigious, but I suspect at this point O'Brian has the topography and culture of early 19th Century... Read more
Published on Dec 5 1997
3.0 out of 5 stars If you got this far in the series, why stop now?
Aubrey & Maturin will always be worth reading, but
this series is definitely getting tired. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 1997 by
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but more to come
O'Brian is never dull, of course, but this installment is too didactic for me. Where before Maturin's naivete is a natural cue for exploration of many topics, here it's just too... Read more
Published on Aug. 2 1997
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for the series reader, but not the most exciting.....
Not the most action packed of the novels, however, the storyline and history are as always fun to follow...
Published on Jan. 4 1997
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