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Patrick O’Brian’s Navy – Illustrated Companion to Aubrey’s World

This beautiful book, richly illustrated, gives a tantalising glimpse into British naval history at the time of Napoleonic Wars. This covers the time when the fictional Jack Aubrey served, and also his friend Dr Stephan Maturin.

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The text is written by several experts on naval history: Richard O’Neil – consultant editor with contributions from Chris Chant, David Miller and Dr Clive Wilkinson. And it is beautifully written, authentic and clear.

The layout of this large volume lends itself to the coffee table – but there is much more to it than that. On every page, illustrations break up the text into easy to read chunks – which is great because some of the subject matter is quite difficult to understand. However, with the aid of diagram, maps and charts the path is easier to follow.

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Special mention should be made of the drawings of the ships, sails and rigging which make reading some of the more technical parts of O’Brian’s books somewhat clearer – and also lets us enjoy Maturin’s misdescription of naval matters.

But throughout, the book is adorned with beautiful pictures. Taken from paintings of mostly naval battles but also of ships, together with a collection of cartoons, to show us not only the life but also the clothes and uniforms of the period. It is this, extraordinary collection of fine paintings, interesting and evocative, which give the volume so much character.

This is far more than just a companion to the Jack Aubrey series – it is an education in itself. It covers world politics as well as the intricate workings of the ships and the guns, it puts us in the position of a person of that time.

For anyone entranced by the Aubrey/Maturin series, this book is a wonderful companion – and to anyone with an interest on the history of that time, especially naval history I thoroughly recommend this enchanting book.

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Written by Liz H

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