Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian - Book Review (KINDLE)

This year I'm trying to review all the books, TV series, and films I see so that I can keep track.  At the moment there's a bit of a glut because January was a busy month!

So yes, Master and Commander as per the title.

This was a book club read, and I had it on the 'to read' bookshelf in any case so I was quite pleased.  I'd bought it ages ago as one of those books I thought I really should get round to, so here was the perfect excuse.

I didn't not like this, because what's not to like.  OK there was a not of navy schmavy talk about different sails and ropes and whatnots, but since I found the first passage  explaining it all completely incomprehensible I just skipped over any others I came across. Now, once I got to book club I discovered that in the hard copy you get a diagram that tells you all the sails and stuff and that would have made it a hell of a lot easier, but on the e-read you don't so I was none the wiser by the end of the book.

The characters are lovely and funny and nicely observed.  I didn't totally believe them, but I didn't think they were absurd either.  I liked them, and that is the key. The captain (sorry that is probably the wrong term, another thing that's hard to understand), Aubrey, is wonderfully thick, and the doctor, Maturin, is marvelously odd. He also has a brilliant name.

Other than that there's not much to say, because nothing happens.  That's a bit harsh, but really, there's several times you hear about something happening because one of the incidental characters is talking about it, but that's it.  You hear about it in passing. Also the narrative keeps skipping in what seems like important places.  It's all set up for a big scene, and then suddenly you are somewhere else on a ship having lunch.  448 pages of a nice read, but not much going on. No wonder there's 20-odd books in the series.  I'd happily read more, but I'm not going to go and buy the set.

Having said all that and damned the thing by faint praise, there is one scene between Maturin and a French counterpart that totally makes the book for me.  I laughed out loud, which doesn't happen too often with books.

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