The sixteenth volume in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and Patrick O'Brian's first bestseller in the United States.
At the outset of this adventure filled with disaster and delight, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin pursue an American privateer through the Great South Sea. The strange color of the ocean reminds Stephen of Homer's famous description, and portends an underwater volcanic eruption that will create a new island overnight and leave an indelible impression on the reader's imagination.
Their ship, the Surprise, is now also a privateer, the better to escape diplomatic complications from Stephen's mission, which is to ignite the revolutionary tinder of South America. Jack will survive a desperate open boat journey and come face to face with his illegitimate black son; Stephen, caught up in the aftermath of his failed coup, will flee for his life into the high, frozen wastes of the Andes; and Patrick O'Brian's brilliantly detailed narrative will reunite them at last in a breathtaking chase through stormy seas and icebergs south of Cape Horn, where the hunters suddenly become the hunted.
About the Author
One of our greatest contemporary novelists, Patrick O’Brian is the author of the twenty volumes of the best-selling Aubrey/Maturin series, as well as many other books, including Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, The Unknown Shore, and biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso.
I haven’t read novels [in the past ten years] except for all of the Patrick O’Brian series. It was, unfortunately, like tripping on heroin. I started on those books and couldn’t stop. — E. O. Wilson - Boston Globe
Addictively readable. — Chicago Tribune
They're funny, they're exciting, they're informative. . . there are legions of us who gladly ship out time and time again under Captain Aubrey. — The New Yorker
lf Jane Austen had written rousing sea yarns, she would have produced something very close to the prose of Patrick O'Brian. — Time
The best historical novels ever written… On every page Mr. O’Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don’t, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives. — Richard Snow - New York Times Book Review
It has been something of a shock to find myself—an inveterate reader of girl books—obsessed with Patrick O’Brian’s Napoleonic-era historical novels… What keeps me hooked are the evolving relationships between Jack and Stephen and the women they love. — Tamar Lewin - New York Times
I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s 20-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog. — Christopher Hitchens - Slate
I fell in love with his writing straightaway, at first with Master and Commander. It wasn’t primarily the Nelson and Napoleonic period, more the human relationships. …And of course having characters isolated in the middle of the goddamn sea gives more scope. …It’s about friendship, camaraderie. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin always remind me a bit of Mick and me.
— Keith Richards
[O’Brian’s] Aubrey-Maturin series, 20 novels of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, is a masterpiece. It will outlive most of today’s putative literary gems as Sherlock Holmes has outlived Bulwer-Lytton, as Mark Twain has outlived Charles Reade. — David Mamet - New York Times
The Aubrey-Maturin series… far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart. — Ken Ringle - Washington Post
O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin volumes actually constitute a single 6,443-page novel, one that should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century. — George Will
Gripping and vivid… a whole, solidly living world for the imagination to inhabit. — A. S. Byatt
There is not a writer alive whose work I value over his. — Stephen Becker - Chicago Sun-Times
Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars. — James Hamilton-Paterson - New Republic