Blue at the Mizzen (novel #20) ended with Jack Aubrey getting the news, in Chile, of his elevation to flag rank: Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron, with orders to sail to the South Africa station. The next novel, unfinished and untitled at the time of the author's death, would have been the chronicle of that mission, and much else besides. The three chapters left on O'Brian's desk at the time of his death are presented here both in printed version-including his corrections to the typescript-and a facsimile of his manuscript, which goes several pages beyond the end of the typescript to include a duel between Stephen Maturin and an impertinent officer who is courting his fiancee. Of course we would rather have had the whole story; instead we have this proof that O'Brian's powers of observation, his humor, and his understanding of his characters were undiminished to the end.
I loved it. But tinged with such sadness that he never finished it. I'm somehow reassured that I have placed my fandom in the right place when I see just how much attention to detail went into
If you haven't tried these books yet then please do so, for if you like them you will like them a great deal.
I started the first book in this series in January, and determined to read through them all by the end of the year. (Could have read them all in a much shorter time, of course, but I wanted to draw it out, and make the experience last as long as possible. But, now its over, and I'm not
This last entry in a wonderful series is only three chapters. Less, really, as O'Brian stopped mid-sentence, and died without finishing it. Still, he left us with all our beloved friends seemingly healthy, and happy, and with much to look forward to. Really, in a way, its the best sort of ending, as the lack of resolution allows the reader the freedom to imagine what happens next. I'm sad that I'll never read another tale of Aubrey and Maturin, and their adventures on the sea, but so very happy for the 20 and a partial volumes we spent together.
Also, I think "21" is a fitting
Rest in peace.
With the arrival of the South African squadron, Jack repairs aboard HMS Suffolk, hoists his pennant, formally becoming Rear Admiral Aubrey. Finding the ship somewhat undermanned, he endeavors to bring aboard those Surprises who seek employ during the peace. Meeting Commander-in-Chief Admiral Lord Leyton, Jack finds him a hard man, though he avoids any lasting conflict. Sending Surprise and Ringle back to England, Jack sends for Sophie and his girls while Stephen sends for his daughter, Brigid, and his paramour Christine Wood. Unfortunately, Jack’s daughters had not got on with Brigid, but the sea travel gives her time to resist their bullying. From there, Jack takes the time to practice the Suffolk’s guns before he and Stephen repair aboard Admiral Leyton’s ship, there meeting with Captain Miller, a neighbor of Jack’s and cousin to Leyton. Leyton sends them to bring Miller to Saint Helena, where Napoleon now lives in his second exile and where Leyton plans to hold an interview with the former Emperor. Here O’Brian’s typed manuscript ends midsentence, though the handwritten manuscript continues on, describing a duel between Stephen and Captain Miller after Miller assumed an overfamiliarity with Christine Wood.
In many ways, The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey recalls the published collections of J.R.R. Tolkien’s notes or his Unfinished Tales. It gives a sense of how he intended to continue the series prior to his death, with some sections sketched out and others more nearly complete. The book also features both a facsimile of his handwritten manuscript and his typed copy, allowing those who are so inclined to study something of his method as an author. For O’Brian’s longstanding fans, this manuscript offers a pleasant send-off. While it is impossible to say what he intended for his characters’ futures, O’Brian’s manuscript leaves them with hope and a fair wind on the horizon.