H.M.S. Surprise - Patrick O'Brian

Now that's a surprise! Just when he needed it the most Captain Jack Aubrey received his command on the Royal Ship. His life was getting colors again. And the color that was the most attractive in this particular moment was as gold as money paid for the prizes. Captain Aubrey was far from the thought of retirement, but he had some land plans in mind. Having that golden color on his side was truly important for the plans to come true.
But that wasn't the only surprise...

book cover

After years of sailing under various sails Jack Aubrey returned on the deck of H.M.S. Surprise. This time he was to give orders not to take them. That was not a slightest problem – it never was. For an experienced sailor, such as Jack, adapting to new environments is just a matter of minutes. In short time H.M.S. Surprise became Aubrey's ship, and it's crew became Aubrey's men. He seemed to be not only a born seaman, but also a natural born captain.

And now for my personal surprise. Whenever I start to read any of O'Brian's novels I feel like stepping into a completely strange and exotic world. One could say that sailing across the seas cannot be fun with all the same sights every single morning and same people around. That's not what I think just after the second page of the book. There's some magic in a world of so called tall ships. They're less and less known and popular in the times of speed and lazy comfort. O'Brian refers to the early 19th century – the age when those beautiful vessels were the true Queens of the Seven Seas. O'Brian uses one more „magic” trick. Even though his characters are made up he writes the stories that are nearly true. His novels are built with a skilled eloquence of a person who knows his craft – they're well placed in timelines of any sea-conflict of that time and the seamen's language - despite it's originality – is still easily readible to us.

I'm not going to tell what's the story is about in „H.M.S. Surprise”. That could spoil the... well spoil the fun. One thing I can tell is that I keep discovering how many faces Stephen Maturin has. He's far more than just a surgeon. With every part of the Master and Commander series I find Maturin being skilled, interested or involved in something new, no less dangerous and no less exciting than before. And still he manages to convince everyone around about ineptitude of living in a real world.

„H.M.S. Surprise” is the third in the series of twenty novels on Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Doctor Maturin. They met in the first part and became close friends since then. They share life's ups and downs both on land and on deck fighting with fate, but also fighting with themselves. It's really exceptional bound between the peace loving doctor and the roaring cannons enthusiast – the captain.

O'Brian begins his tales with something You could call insignificant episode of great importance, and then, as his sails catch the winds, he speeds up carrying his words towards the horizon and leaving the readers in waiting of another story.

Kamil Świątkowski

Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-00-649917-6