Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

March Books 9) Desolation Island, by Patrick O'Brian

I read the first two Aubrey/Maturin books many many years ago, and while I enjoyed them I never quite got into the habit of pursuing the series. A couple of years back I picked up Desolation Island from Bookmooch (which seems incidentally to have lurched back into activity in the last month or so, which is good news) and have now submitted to various people's urgings in my last couple of what-shall-I-read-next-year posts and digested it.

It is a cracking good read. There's an awful lot packed in here; apart from the basic plot of Aubrey commanding a mission both transporting convicts and recsuing Bligh (of Bounty fame) and Maturin finding his personal and political allegiances increasingly tangled as the War of 1812 looms. Loads of the ship's crew are killed by violence or disease. The high point of the book is an engagement with a Dutch ship, brilliantly described from Aubrey's point of view as a testing to destruction of both vessels; the victorious but severely damaged British limp to what we now call Kerguelen Island, the island of the title of the book, and have a diplomatically tricky encounter with an American crew while they are there. O'Brian's sensitivity to language and nuance is rather lovely, and I shall try and develop this habit a little more.
Tags: bookblog 2012, writer: patrick o'brian
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