Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML: Shipwrecked on a remote island in the Dutch East Indies, Captain Jack Aubrey, surgeon and secret intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, and the crew of the Diane fashion a schooner from the wreck. Though a vicious attack by Malay pirates is repulsed, the makeshift vessel burns, and Aubrey and his crew are truly marooned. Their escape from this predicament is one that only the whimsy and ingenuity of Patrick O'Brianâ??or Stephen Maturinâ??could devise. In command now of a new ship, the Nutmeg, Aubrey pursues his interrupted mission. The dreadful penal colony in New South Wales, harrowingly described, is the backdrop to a diplomatic crisis provoked by Maturin's Irish temper and to a near-fatal encounter with the wildlife of the Australian outback
Aubrey, Stephen, and others transfer back to the Surprise and continue on to New South Wales. They find conditions in the penal colony shocking and the general corruption daunting. Having run out of his coca leaves, Stephen finds himself on-edge and ends up in a duel with Captain Lowe, who insulted the Irish to no end. Fortunately, Stephen wins and receives happy news. He visits Padeen Colman, who had been transported following earlier events resulting from his addiction to laudanum. Stephen plans to help Padeen escape, but Aubrey warns him against it due to the delicate position in which the Surprise finds itself vis-Ă -vis local politics. Stephen travels to the arranged meeting place in order to view duck-billed platypuses, successfully capturing one, only to be poisoned by its spurs. When the Surprise arrives, Padeen is brought aboard with the shore party, where Stephen recovers.
At one point, Stephen, Mr. Martin, and Paulton discuss novels, allowing Oâ€™Brian to describe his philosophy for endings. Through Stephen, he writes, â€śThere is another Frenchman whose name escapes me but who is even more to the point: La bĂŞtise câ€™est de vouloir conclure. The conventional ending, with virture rewarded and loose ends tied up is often sadly chilling; and its platitude and falsity tend to infect what has gone before, however excellent. Many books would be far better without their last chapter: or at least with no more than a brief, cool, unemotional statement of the outcomeâ€ť (pg. 242). This perfectly captures many of Oâ€™Brianâ€™s endings.
Like the previous sevel novels, The Nutmeg of Consolation exists outside the normal flow of time â€“ this novel being the eighth of twelve to exist in what Oâ€™Brian described as an extended 1812, with these dozen books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. Those looking for a perfect chronology are advised to simply enjoy the story and the way in which Oâ€™Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic Wars, using Aubrey and Stephenâ€™s activities to comment on the rapid changes occurring in this era and the passage of time in the seriesâ€™ internal chronology. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes.
All of the books in the series are great. The first one, Master and Commander, is tough
Lots of great character moments, and the writing when Stephen is contemplating his great happiness at
Stephen withstands several reversals of fortune, striving to maintain an even keel throughout. Jack reveals in letter to Sophie his idea of purchasing Surprise from Stephen, with prize money from American merchants. Stephen puts down Lowe handily with a sword in a duel after Lowe insults Stephen at Government House, leading to much friction with Surprise through remainder of stay at Port Jackson. Stephen and Martin go on walkabout, and Stephen is bit by a courting platypus.
Joined by two old hands, Adams from Lively who comes aboard as Jack's clerk, and Stephen's old mate Padeen. Two stranded mids are picked up in Java, Miller and Oakes, and while rated do not serve as midshipmen. Jack does his level best to avoid killing Christy-Palliere's son, Pierrot (Jean-Pierre Demesnil) in a cutting out action in waters east of Borneo. Jack receives a letter from his son, Sam, now a vicar. Stephen unexpectedly meets his cousin James FitzGerald while visiting Lady McQuarrie. Sarah & Emily Sweeting taken aboard, sole survivors of smallpox after whalers visit their village on Sweeting Island. Stephen learns from an old patient Diana's had a daughter.
Nutmeg is a sweet temporary ship.