O’Brian, Patrick: (12) The Letter of Marque (spoilers)

SPOILERS for The Letter of Marque; here’s the non-spoiler post if you got here by mistake.

Perhaps if I just type a bunch of exclamation marks here, I won’t overuse them in the rest of the post: !!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that that’s out of my system:

The actions, of course, and Jack’s eventual reinstatement—not that I doubted it was coming, since I know what the title of the last book is, but still. And the disguises and strings of prizes and desparate cutting-out expeditions; it really did feel like the Sophie to me, except for the horses. Dear William (not Charles!) Babbington; and I bet that a pistol ball pressing on the sciatic hurts like anything, having had an infinitesimally small difficulty with that nerve myself. Somehow I doubt that Jack’s resolution to keep mum in Parliament will last, given his on-shore judgment; but that’s okay, there has to be some source of future land-based trouble for him. (Philip Aubrey is awfully cute, and I hope we see more of him.)

I was surprised that Wray and Ledward were not taken, further spinning out this plot thread. There’s a suggestion, I believe, that they are homosexual, which makes me glad that there was a homosexual character of unquestionably good character in the first book, so I don’t have to fear that authorial (perhaps unconscious) homophobia is behind the Evil Gays.

Poor dear Stephen and his addiction, now finally out in the open to both good and bad effect (by which I mean, Padeen would be unlikely to have become addicted if Stephen didn’t treat the possibility so lightly out of his own denial). I understand why O’Brian stuck so closely to Stephen’s point-of-view after his accident (and what remarkable writing that was), but I would have liked Diana’s change of heart to be filled in just a bit more. That’s about my only complaint.

Yay, happy endings.


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  1. Definitely not Evil Gays–elsewhere there are gay characters whose morals and personalities vary as much as the straights. Stephen is quite clearly sympathetic, and Jack shrugs the subject off.

  2. No, I didn’t think so, but if they had been the only prominent gay characters to date, it would have made me wonder.
    I should check _The Butcher’s Bill_ to see if we meet that master from the first book again.

  3. No, but there are a couple other gay officers–the first lieutenant on Yorke’s ship, who comments about Parlow’s beauty, and the admiral or captain who keeps Richardson (oblivious as he is) as a lieutenant–this is after Richardson stops being Spotted Dick and becomes handsome. There are a few others, too.
    The thing about Ledward and Wray, if I recall rightly is not that they are gay, it’s implied that they and their particular group like a molly shop in which it’s implied that the participants may not be willing.

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