‘That’s the man: the only post captain in the navy who was ever condemned to death for mutiny’
Aubrey and Maturin set sail for Australia to rescue Governor William Bligh from the settlers rebelling against his rule. Accompanying them on board H.M.S. Leopard are a group of convicts hell-bent on escape and the beginnings of a fever that will decimate the crew. Desolation Island is a turning point in the Aubrey–Maturin series. As well as featuring some of the most breathtaking battle descriptions of the whole series, it further deepens the mystery of Maturin’s character: loyal friend, sensitive naturalist and steely secret agent whose machinations may one day rebound on him.
Read more about the life and work of Patrick O'Brian
In 1991, an article appeared in The New York Times entitled ‘An Author I’d Walk the Plank For’. Like millions of readers around the world, the writer, Richard Snow, had become addicted to Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series. Set against the sprawling canvas of the Napoleonic Wars, O’Brian’s naval adventure novels evoke this period in history like no others. Their success is down to the vim and vigour of O’Brian’s prose, his extraordinary eye for period detail and his ear for language. In Snow’s words: ‘O’Brian summoned up with casual omniscience the workaday magic of a vanished time.’
The partnership between Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin is at the heart of Patrick O’Brian’s masterful series. Beyond the beautifully textured period setting and the thrilling skirmishes and naval battles (many based on real events), the popularity of the novels stems from these two engaging, intriguing protagonists, with Aubrey’s passionate nature providing a marvellous foil for Maturin’s more enigmatic character. Two centuries may separate us from them, but O’Brian creates an utterly compelling portrait of two men and a world at war.