The Unknown Shore

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Inspired by the Wager disaster, The Unknown Shore is an immediate precursor to Patrick O’Brian’s acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series that displays all the splendid prose and attention to detail that delight O’Brian’s millions of fans.

Patrick O’Brian’s first novel about the sea, The Golden Ocean, took inspiration from Commodore George Anson’s fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In The Unknown Shore, O’Brian returns to this rich source and mines it brilliantly for another, quite different tale of exploration and adventure.

The Wager was parted from Anson’s squadron in the fierce storms off Cape Horn and struggled alone up the coast of Chile until she was driven against the rocks and sank. The survivors were soon involved in trouble of every kind. A surplus of rum, a disappearing stock of food, and a hard, detested captain soon drove them into drunkenness, mutiny, and bloodshed. After many months of privation, a handful of men made their way northward under the guidance of a band of Indians, at last finding safety in Valparaiso.

This saga of survival is the background to the adventures of two young men aboard the Wager: midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon’s mate. Patrick O’Brian’s many devoted readers will take particular interest in this story, as Jack and Toby form a kind of blueprint for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the famed heroes of the great Aubrey/Maturin series to come.

Master and Commander (Aubrey-Maturin, Book 1) (Aubrey & Maturin series)

Master and Commander (Vol. Book 1) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
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Published: 1990-08-17
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The beginning of the sweeping Aubrey-Maturin series. “The best sea story I have ever read.”—Sir Francis Chichester This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.

Details of a life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson’s navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.