Last night I finished my fourth book of the year, which also happens to be the fourth book of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. The Mauritius Command opens with Jack Aubrey ashore, beset by domestic cares at his cottage, where he lives with his wife, infant twin daughters, mother-in-law, and toddler niece. Stephen Maturin arrives with news that Jack is to take command of the HMS Boadicea and lead a squadron in the attempted capture of French-held islands Mauritius and La Reunion in the Indian Ocean. The French have recently added four large frigates to their forces on the islands, making the task extremely difficult.
Jack accepts the command with enthusiasm and sets sail in his new ship for the Cape. With the full support of the Admiral of the Cape station, Jack hoists his pendant as a Commodore and proceeds to the islands. His plans are successful (with the aid of Stephen’s intelligence work) and La Reunion is captured. Unfortunately, various setbacks delay the attempt on Mauritius. Just as the situation is again in hand, the Admiral arrives and supersedes Jack, claiming all of the glory after Jack’s hard work. This tremendous blow is offset by the news that Jack’s wife has given birth to a son.
As with all of the Aubrey/Maturin books, The Mauritius Command is a highly entertaining read. O’Brian’s use of the logs from real battles lends an authenticity to the narrative that heightens the excitement. By the fourth book, the reader comes to see the cast of characters as old friends, but O’Brian manages to keep them vibrant and interesting. Patrick O’Brian is perhaps the greatest author of historical fiction ever to put pen to paper.
The Current Count
4 Read, 96 To Go