The Wine-Dark Sea

by Patrick O'Brian

Hardcover, 1993

Call number




W. W. Norton (1993), Edition: 1st, 261 pages


1st American ed.

User reviews

LibraryThing member JBD1
Another excellent installment in the series, featuring an underwater volcanic eruption, Pacific travels, Maturin's trek in the Andes observing the wildlife and fomenting rebellion, and the usual Aubrey-Maturin dynamic. I'm beginning to think that as soon as I finish the last volume, I may just
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start over again ...
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LibraryThing member iayork
Amazing, As Usual: Wine-Dark Sea is the sixteenth in Patrick O'Brian's wonderful 20-part nautical series. It is also the final in a four-part mini-series, as volumes thirteen through sixteen are an ongoing circumnavigation of the world. In this installment, Aubrey and Maturin and the HMS Surprise
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finish their adventures in the Pacific, land in Peru and then round the Cape into the Atlantic on their way home to England. For fans of the naval wars, there are some good 'ol rip-roaring chase and battle scenes. The Maturin crowd will find their hero high in the Andes examining wildlife and carrying on his intelligence activities. A wonderful worthy addition to O'Brian's series.
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LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Doctor Stephen Maturin, an intelligence agent of formidable powers, is dispatched to discomfit the Napoleonic French and their allies. With him comes his particular friend, naval captain Jack Aubrey. Each of them has some successes on this long voyage--Jack takes a truly ridiculous number of
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prizes--but are battered by their adventures and happy to head home.

I love this series so much. At this point,the continued travails of the Surprise's crew, captain, and surgeon are as comforting and interesting as hearing about my home town.
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LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O’Brian’s sixteenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up immediately where the previous novel, Clarissa Oakes, left off with Captain Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin, and Thomas Pullings aboard the Surprise chasing the American privateer Franklin, under command of
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French privateersmen, from Moahu where they recently thwarted French ambitions on the strategic island. Turbulent seas from an underwater volcanic eruption enable the Surprise to overtake and capture the Franklin, gaining the crew another prize.

Aboard the Franklin, Aubrey finds her owner, Jean Dutourd, who had sought to finance a utopia on Moahu by enticing one group to overthrow the monarch. Doutard sails without papers for himself, putting Aubrey in the awkward position of how to classify him – either a privateer or a pirate. An encounter with a whaler brings news of the Alastor, a French vessel flying the black flag of piracy, and Aubrey determines to find and take her. Once the crew of the Surprise accomplishes that, they send the Surprise and the Alastor into Callao, the port for Lima, along with Maturin who can finally begin the mission upon which he embarked in The Thirteen Gun Salute. While Stephen begins making contact with locals who might support Peruvian independence, Jack looks for further prizes in the Franklin. Unfortunately for Stephen, Doutard manages to stowaway on one of the prizes and reaches Peru, intending to send up an alarm. Though neither the French nor Spanish authorities trust Doutard – he showing an alarming lack of tact and his views on religion putting him at odds with the Spanish – his words do pose a threat to any English attempt to support Peruvian independence and Stephen must flee overland. The breeze being against them, Aubrey attempts to reach Callao by cutter, though the winds delay and batter them. Fortunately, Captain Pullings finds them struggling to enter the harbor and brings them aboard Surprise, where word of Stephen’s overland trek meets them. The Surprise sails down the coast and rendezvous with Stephen before heading to the Cape to try and take three American China ships. There they encounter further misfortune when an unexpected U.S. frigate appears, giving the Surprise a brief chase in which she suffers ice damage. The Surprise escapes, but a lightning strike further damages her mast. The novel closes with the HMS Berenice under Captain Heneage Dundas finding them and transferring provisions to repair Surprise in order that they may return home.

Like the previous nine novels, The Wine-Dark Sea exists outside the normal flow of time – this novel being the tenth of eleven to exist in what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. Further, this continues the circumnavigation of the globe that began in The Thirteen Gun Salute and will end in The Commodore. The title quotes Homer’s Odyssey: “And if some god should strike me, out on the wine-dark sea, I will endure it.” O’Brian uses this novel to examine the nature of fortune, with Captain Dundas commenting on it when he finds Surprise damaged while Aubrey remarks that the failure in the mission is balanced by the joy of being alive and homeward bound. While the events of the previous nine novels would normally take several years, those looking for a perfect chronology are advised to simply enjoy the story and the way in which O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic Wars, using Aubrey and Stephen’s activities to comment on the rapid changes occurring in this era and the passage of time in the series’ internal chronology. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes.
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LibraryThing member Miro
This was the first of O'Brian's Aubrey / Maturin series that I read and I really liked it (along with most of the others).
LibraryThing member name99
Perhaps I missed something by jumping into this series so near to the end; while I got the gist of the story, I imagine I'd have understood more if I'd started with book one.
On the other hand, after this I saw the movie Master and Commander, and I think between this book and the movie I've picked
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out what I consider to be the interesting history in the series, while I don't find the rest compelling enough to justify attacking the other books.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Jack and Stephen find themselves in the middle of a Pacific volcanic eruption and the reader is treated to Stephen's trek across the Andes. These are just a few of the things that give "The Wine Dark Sea" a unique feel. Mr. O'Brian's ability to offer up something different in the midst of such
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familiarity is truly a gift. I was particularly taken with the descriptions of llamas - and their reactions to Stephen. Lots of humor and tragedy equally mixed.
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LibraryThing member BobVTReader
Tbook is towards the end of the series and close to the end of Patrick O'Brian's life. Stell a good tale and crisp writing, but like The Truelove it does not stand up as well as the earilier books in the series. I think that it is the plot of this tale is awkward.
LibraryThing member paakre
Among the pleasures of this volume was the tour of the high altitudes of Peru and of their particular flora and fauna. Stephen Maturin examines condors first hand, and bromeliads, and three kinds of llamas. Adventures include Maturin's party being sideswiped by a sudden blizzard, and Jack Aubrey
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being seriously wounded in the eye and leg. Even though I barely follow the political events that inform Stephen's espionage missions, Stephen survives through his wits, and with very helpful allies, and Jack survives miraculously one injury after another. I wonder how Maturin can manage all of his various addictions. First came laudanum, now coca leaves.

I can hardly wait for the two friends to touch down on native soil so that we can hear from Sophie and Diana again.
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LibraryThing member elenchus
IN WHICH Surprise's chase of Franklin ventures into waters strange to both captain and seasoned crew; and yet which leads eventually to prizes in the offing several times, a rich haul should even half be brought to heel. Amidst all this activity, Maturin's South American mission finally gets
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underway, involving rebels, subversives, and a trek across the Andes. Mother Nature influences the various sea ventures more than typical even for the Royal Navy, but also the Surprises reunite with an old acquaintance, possibly putting them back on track.


Jack saves another Surprise overboard: Reade, but also in boarding action himself suffers yet another headwound, yet another body wound (this time from a pike).

Pullings commands another prize crew.

Stephen engages in a prodigious amount of naturalism this voyage, including his observation of the peculiar musculature of the frigate-bird. In his intelligence work, Stephen discovers Sam to be a valuable asset and able defender among Peruvian activists. A descent in a snowstorm leaves Stephen frostbitten in the leg, serious enough he is carried in a Peruvian Chair, and eventually forced to amputate a "few unimportant toes".

Events pick up immediately after Clarissa Oakes and close a number of months later, in the South Atlantic. Per Seltzer's chronology, events take place in the repeating year of 1813. See also the online Patrick O'Brien Mapping Project for conjectured plot of the journey this volume.
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LibraryThing member malcrf
Lacked a certain something. Usual evocative prose, rich characterisation, but somehow a little less focused than other Aubrey/Maturins.

Would really like to have given it a 3.75.
LibraryThing member kslade
Another good one in the series. This time the Dr. is in Peru among the Incas for a while. A French prisoner escapes and ruins the Dr.'s intelligence mission. Jack is getting old and more injured. The Surprise ends up in bad shape. Great story!




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