Master and Commander
by Patrick O'Brian (1970, 458 pages). I picked up this book several years ago after seeing the movie of the same
name...but I just never got around to finishing it. After visiting
Portsmouth in January and touring the
HMS Victory, my interest was re-kindled in reading this book. In the room where Victory's sails from the Battle
of Trafalgar were displayed, they had scenes from the movie "Master and Commander" playing. I can't think of
a stronger endorsement. One of the ex-Royal Navy guys I met in Portsmouth, on the HMS Warrier, had read the whole
Aubrey/Matruin novels by Patrick O'Brian.
I enjoyed the book but I really needed a dictionary of Maritime terms nearby while reading. The author expects a good understanding of nautical and Royal Navy terms in his writing. Still, it's a good story set around 1800 when the seas were battlefields for the British, French and Spanish fleets. The story is about Jack Aubrey's first command of a sloop, a small 16-gun vessel, the HMS Sophie and his honing the crew into a fine fighting and prize-taking ship. The defining friendship in the books is between Aubrey and his ship's surgeon, Dr, Maturin.
It's a good story and if you like battles and strategy, you'll like this..