George V. Reilly

Review: The Letter of Marque

The Letter of Marque
Title: The Letter of Marque
Author: Patrick O’Brian
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 336
Keywords: historical fiction
Aubrey-Maturin #12
Reading period: 22–23 August, 2009

Jack Aubrey was disgraced in The Reverse of the Medal. He is now a civilian privateer, bitter at having been framed. Two ex­tra­or­di­nary actions do much to recommend him to the general public and make him wealthy, and by the end of this book, it seems certain that he will soon be restored to the Navy List. Stephen Maturin’s own fortunes improve as he effects a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with his wife.

The Letter of Marque is the twelfth novel in the Aubrey-Maturin series. O’Brian once again writes a convincing seafaring Jane Austen novel. The naval lingo is dense and im­pen­e­tra­ble, but no matter: it adds texture and color. The naval en­gage­ments are exciting, the voyages, richly described. Jack Aubrey, heart­struck, is at his lowest ebb. Stephen Maturin is much concerned for his friend. The humor is subtle, coming to the fore when each man is out of his element, Jack on land, Stephen at sea.


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