EPS Review #19 - The Yellow Admiral

I am sad to see I have only two more volumes to go in this series by Patrick O'Brian, of which this is number eighteen.

I am a bit behind on my reviews, so I read this a while back. I felt that not a lot happened, but I am way beyond complaining at this point. I intend to reread all twenty volumes of this series at my leisure. If you had told me at the beginning that I would become so attached to books about Napoleonic naval battles, I would have laughed in disbelief. Two things persuaded me to start: a friend's firm recommendation, and an article in the Economist calling them the ultimate "boys' books" -- lots of action and fascinating facts, though O'Brian has also been called the man's Jane Austen. I particularly enjoy the Natural History angle, as pursued by Stephen Maturin, the doctor/spy. Surprisingly, my grandfather Albert Pitkin, a big sailor (he used to leave sailing books on my bed, and was very disappointed I went to Harvard rather than Annapolis), never got interested in them. I think they were a bit too erudite.

Reading these books, I imagined meeting the wonderful Mr O'Brian. How surprising when a Panorama show revealed that he is really rather nasty (though he's dead now), and not Irish or named O'Brian. His first book was "Caesar" (the story of a panda-leopard), written when he was 15, under the name Patrick Russ. I scored a first edition on Ebay, a while back, a big thrill for me, though the price jumped from $20 to $150 in the last few seconds.

If you do start the Aubrey/Maturin series, don't quit after the first (Master and Commander) because the second is better (Post Captain).

Luke wrote: Glad to hear you like the O'Brien books. I too became completely hooked and have read most of them twice. Like you, if anyone had told me I'd be reading eighteenth century navy tales with any passion I'd have laughed and laughed. The yellow admiral was one of my least favorite of the series, but I'd still read it before many another book.

Ed wrote: God, I love these. I have just started the series and am reading Post Captain at the moment!