Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O'Brian

Well, I guess it was bound to happen at some point.  This book was not that great.  It dragged on.  But being as I was stuck in a car for 52 hours over the course of last week, I had nothing better to do than read this book (while my sweet wife drove and listened to my music on my smart phone).

The Good
NOC starts where 13 Gun ended - with the crew stuck on an island.  The account of their battle with the Dyak pirates was thrilling ending with an amazing cannon shot.

Historically speaking, the description of the penal colonies in Australia was amazing.  I had no idea it was that brutal.  Up to this point, all the novels have had brutality in them, but reading the these parts of the book was chilling.

The Bad
Up to this book, I've thought the naturalist side of Maturin was interesting, but POB takes it to a whole new level in this book.  Granted the part about the Orangutans in the monk monastery mountains was neat; but the rest was kind of monotonous.  I kept asking my self, "when is this going to end" while reading the dialogue between Maturin and Martin.

And then there was the bad as in bad-ass!  Maturin does not like Captain Lowe's opinion of the Irish and is disgusted with him.  But Captain Lowe takes it a bit too far.  Read this incredible passage:

Stephen looked at him attentively.  The man was in a choking rage but he was perfectly steady on his feed; he was not drunk.  'Will you answer for that, sir?' he asked.

'There's my answer,' said the big man, with a blow that knocked Stephen's wig from his head.

Stephen leapt back, whipped out his sword and cried 'Draw, man, draw, or I shall stick you like a hog.'

Lowe unsheathed his sabre: little good did it do him.  In two hissing passes his right thigh was ploughed up.  At the third Stephen's sword was through his shoulder.  And at the issue of a confused struggle at close quarter he was flat on his back, Stephen's foot on his chest, Stephen's sword-point at his throat and the cold voice saying above him 'Ask my pardon or you are a dead man.  Ask my pardon, I say, or you are a dead man, a dead man.'

'I ask your pardon,' said Lowe, and his eyes filled with blood.

The Ugly
The ending was "blah"-ugly.  Really?! It ends with Maturin getting pierced by a male platypus.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Thirteen Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian

A quick word about the picture ... the version I'm reading is nearly identical to the one shown, except instead of cannon, it has a square knot.  But I like the cannon!  I've never seen a book cover with the cannon on it.

As usual, I won't summarize the book.  The Wikipedia entry does a perfect job summarizing this book.

Stephen is a cold-blooded reptile when it comes to intelligence and revenge.  After Ledward and Wray are banished from the court and shot in the heads, Stephen and a fellow intelligence agent dissect and dispose of their bodies!

With their long voyage, Jack has ample time to teach and train his young officers.  They have daily lessons on a variety of subjects.  One of these subjects were "general knowledge and literacy."  Jack had just given some feedback on a journal entry of one of the midshipmen and then asked him, "What do you know about the last American war?"

"Not very much, sir, except that the French and Spaniards joined in and were finely served out for doing so."

"Very true.  Do you know how it began?"

"Yes sir.  It was about tea, which they did not choose to pay duty on.  They called out No reproduction without copulation and tossed it into Boston harbour."

Jack frowned, considered, and said, "Well, in any event they accomplished little or nothing at sea, that bout."

Later, Jack asked Stephen about that battle cry to which Stephen told him the correct phrase!  It was quite a witty passage!

Overall - it was a boring book.  Indeed there were parts that were exciting, shocking and amazing, but you had to endure extremely long stretch of seemingly unimportant minutiae.

I'm finished with the 13th book (I wonder if POB intended that?)  I'm going on a week and half vacation now and plan to take Nutmeg of Consolation with me to read.  I've only 8 books left!