Blue at the Mizzen

by Patrick O'Brian

Hardcover, 1999

Call number




W. W. Norton & Company (1999), Edition: 1st, 262 pages


Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML: Napoleon has been defeated at Waterloo, but the ensuing peace becomes ugly for Captain Jack Aubrey, with violent celebrations of the English sailors in Gibraltar and the desertion of nearly half his crew. To cap it all off, the Surprise is nearly sunk one night in a shattering collision on the first leg of her journey to South America, where Jack and his friend Stephen Maturin are to help Chile assert her independence from Spain. The delay for repairs reaps a harvest of strange consequences, and the South American expedition is a desperate affair, starting with near disaster in the ice-choked seas far south of the Horn. In the end, Jack, again the daring frigate commander of old, stakes all on a desperate solo night raid against the might of the Spanish viceroy in Peru. Jack's bold initiative to strike at the vastly superior Spanish fleet precipitates a spectacular naval action that will determine both Chile's fate and his own..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ehines
This series is long, but consistently satisfying. I can't point to any particular book and say this is a great one, but to have produced 20 good ones, with the same basic set of characters and to have done it with very few cheap or mawkish moments is an amazing feat. The natural expectation for
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these books is for them to be focussed on adventure, manly derring-do, and there is some of that. But at heart O'Brien's books are more "Jane Austen asea." Austen is an obvious and acknowledged influence--there is much concern for the nuances of human interaction, manners, and due consideration for our friends' failings. Great stuff.
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LibraryThing member chained_bear
This book rocks. I loved, loved, loved the ending. In fact I had "21" checked out from the library and was determined to get through that book once I had read the previous 20 (straight through--I'm a first-timer), but I liked the ending of "Blue at the Mizzen" so much that I didn't want to mess it
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up by reading just three chapters of the next book that O'Brian never got to finish.

Would not recommend reading this, though, without reading the first 19 books in the series...
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LibraryThing member iayork
Not one of the authers best, but still a good read.: Having read all of the series this last book is not up to earlier standards. It is still a good read and for followers of Aubrey and Maturin, it is an essential. It does not have the spark that first enticed me to the series, nor the exitement of
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the younger years. But like life, the series progressed through to a fitting conclusion with this book.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I'm sorry to be at the end of the series - I have so enjoyed sharing the adventures of Stephen and Jack. I want to know if Stephen will make a happier second marriage. I want to know how Jack will do as an admiral and will he continue at sea where his innate gifts come to the fore. Even in this
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novel we have great examples of his tactical mind and his ability to act when action is called for. Mostly, these two men, though human, are likeable and honorable. It's been a pleasure to be part of their world.
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LibraryThing member BobVTReader
THis is the last book in the series though Mr. O'Brian did start another book it was never completed and I hav little interest in reading the last volume.
This book had some slow spots and sme contrived plot scenerios, however overall it was not a bad last novel. The series held up pretty well
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though there were a few characters that seemed to disappear. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes rousing sea stories.
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LibraryThing member sben
A mostly-satisfying end to the series, though if it had been written with that in mind, it might have been a little more successful. Oddly, the final chapter almost reads as if it had been written as the first chapter of a different book.
LibraryThing member JBD1
Aubrey and Maturin in their twentieth outing. If you don't know what to expect by now, you've probably done it wrong. Not the best in the series, but certainly not the worst, either.
LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
Blue at the Mizzen, Patrick O’Brian’s twentieth and final complete book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Hundred Days, with Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin embarking on their mission to Chile that was laid out during The Yellow Admiral, but
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briefly interrupted by Napoleon’s final attempt to reclaim power. A collision with a Nordic timber ship further delays Surprise, forcing her to undergo temporary repairs in the hopes of reaching Funchal for more lasting work, only the crew finds the Funchal shipyard aflame. Maturin receives word that the Chilean independence movement has factionalized, so he boards Ringle in order to hasten to London to consult with Sir Joseph Blaine. There, he looks in on his daughter, Brigid, and Jack’s family at Woolcombe, learning that Surprise has returned for repairs. In London, the Duke of Clarence asks Jack to take Horatio Hanson aboard as a midshipman and Jack, though initially reluctant, finds that the boy is a prodigious mathematical talent and accepts him. With the Surprise repaired, the ship and crew head for Chile, picking up Dr. Amos Jacob in Funchal and stopping in Freetown, Sierra Leone to resupply and for Dr. Maturin to propose marriage to Christine Wood, a widow of his acquaintance. Having had an unhappy prior marriage, she turns him down, but plans to visit England and offers Stephen hope for the future.

In Chile, Jack finds conflicting orders, but works to aid the local juntas, in particular the Supreme Director, General Bernardo O’Higgins, and Colonel Eduardo Valdes, a cousin of Maturin’s. Maturin and Dr. Jacob learn that the Peruvian forces, loyal to the Spanish king, plan to invade Chile, so they confront them at Valdivia, bombarding a fort and seizing gold, silver, and other supplies. Despite the success, local sentiment turns against the British to the point that the junta plans to impound Surprise, so Aubrey makes a plan to cut out the Peruvian frigate Esmeralda, strengthen the Chilean navy, and thereby build up goodwill. The plan works, though Aubrey is wounded. As he recovers, Stephen and Dr. Jacob send word to Sir Joseph while Ringle brings the news to Valparaiso. Despite much celebration, Aubrey insists that his sailors must be paid or depart, and Don Miguel Carrera, the president of the Valparasio junta, authorizes the first of the funds. Aubrey begins training the Chilean navy as Surprise surveys the coast, while orders arrive for Aubrey to repair to HMS Implacable in the River Plate, take command of the South African squadron, and hoist his pennant as Rear Admiral of the Blue. Carrera states that it will take longer to complete the payments, so Aubrey respectfully departs Chile and accepts his long-sought promotion.

Blue at the Mizzen has all the character moments fans of this series have come to love, with Horatio Hanson being a fine addition to the crew. Stephen’s time with Christine Wood offers some moments of joy following his sorrow in the previous novel. Like The Yellow Admiral and The Hundred Days, O’Brian discusses the effects of changing land policy, specifically enclosure, and how the war’s end impacts not just sailors and soldiers, but every level of the British economy that had been on a war-footing for two decades. Though O’Brian did not intend this as his final novel, its publication a mere two months before his death made it so. As such, it will bring fans joy with the promise of happiness for the two characters that have led the series over its twenty novels. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes and an endpaper map centered on the Atlantic Ocean, with several labeled cities from throughout the series and an inset of the tip of South America.
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LibraryThing member malcrf
Simply excellent. I'm just sad I've come to the end of such an excellent series.

Will never be matched.




0000225959 / 9780000225955

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