O’Brian, Patrick: (04) The Mauritius Command (spoilers)

SPOILERS for The Mauritius Command; here’s the non-spoiler post if you got here by mistake.

A new ship, the Boadicea, which Jack gets along very well on. Admiral Bertie is a sharp dealer, but not without feeling; I laughed out loud at Stephen’s machinations at the end, regarding rumors of Jack’s father’s influence, having spotted them just before the narrator said that it was Stephen.

I’m already forgetting things; when did Jack get that long wound on his back?

I was briefly disappointed that the final conquest was treated with such brevity, but given the ease of it, I guess it makes sense. The taking of the Vénus has to suffice to avenge the Néréide (and were the colors nailed to the mast, I wonder, and why?) and the Africaine (and why did the French continue firing for so long after she’d struck?).

I was sad but unsurprised at Clonfert’s suicide. I thought it an admirably clear portrait of a man who was anything but clear. I was not sad (or surprised) at Corbett’s demise; anyone who flogs Pippin Bonden deserves it. (Apropos of the movie, Pullings has the right body type, it seems to me, but not quite the right face; the actor looks more serious than amiable.) I don’t think we know what happens to Pym; it was good to see that the big solid types aren’t infalliable in the Navy. (Also, the book was really good about setting things up, like that and Bertie’s ambition. I should’ve known, if Jack was a baronet there’d be no additional 16 books!)

Romance ramifications: Stephen is bleak over Diana, and using opium again, though not as much. Jack is less than happy in his marital bed; I’m not sure if Sophie dislikes sex, or the possiblity of children after the difficult birth of the twins, or both. (I presume that Jack isn’t incompetent, because Molly Harte wouldn’t have put up with that, but it’s very possible that Jack’s style, for lack of a better word, isn’t compatible with Sophie’s.) Jack is quite realistically a product of his time, in his comments about girl children and slaves, but just amiable enough about it to not be offensive. Much.


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  1. I could speculate on the answers to some of your questions, but, well, that would be spoilerish for the rest of the series, and you would probably have to kill me with your brain.
    I think O’Brian showed a very deft touch with Clonfert. One of the things that makes him (O’Brian) great, in my mind, is he does lovely psychological character sketches, both in the lengthy trans-book arc of Jack and Stephen, but also in one-offs like Dillon and Clonfert (and others to come that I might mention, but again, not so thrilled about the prospect of death-by-brain, so I’ll refrain).

  2. I agree about not spoiling future books, but I expect to enjoy the discussion that will revolve around how some of the “romance ramifications” are developed, later in the series.

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