• The Mauritius Command

  • Aubrey-Maturin Series, Book 4
  • By: Patrick O'Brian
  • Narrated by: Ric Jerrom
  • Length: 12 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In The Mauritius Command, Captain Jack Aubrey is ashore on half-pay without a command until his friend, occasional intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, arrives with secret orders for Aubrey to take a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope under a Commodore's pennant. But the difficulties of carrying out his orders are compounded by two of his own captains: one a pleasure-seeking dilettante, the other liable to provoke the crew to mutiny.

Based on an actual campaign of 1810 in the Indian Ocean, O'Brien's attention to the detail of early 19th-century life ashore and at sea is meticulous. This tale is as beautifully written and as gripping as any in the series; it also stands on its own as a superlative work of fiction.

©1977 Patrick O'Brian (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Mauritius Command

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Change of Narrator

I love this series. Best summer holiday read ever.
Unfortunately I started the Audible series with the narrator Patrick Tull. Ric Jerrom is an adequate narrator but doesn't hold a candle to Mr Tull (no longer available through Audible). Listening to Mr Tull is like having a 'man of the sea' tell the story. Unlike Mr Jerrom, he doesn't try too hard to do the accents (really badly in Mr Jerrom's version) and this makes the story far more authentic.
I won't be buying more of the series unless the Patrick Tull version is reissued.

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  • PJ
  • 04-29-21

Jack flies the pendant

Excellent story gripping all the way.... wanted more. Ric Jerrom cannot do the Ulster Prodestant ascent very well but nonetheless the mostly vile character of MacAdam was in no way spoilt by the performance.
Going to listen to the story again now.

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best action of the series so far

best action of the series so far. not that i mind the romance plots and slow character building of the previous novels, but the naval combat and surgical scenes in this one were particularly exciting and dynamic

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Literate Age of Sail Buddy Comfort Food with Bite

The fourth entry in Patrick O'Brien's Age of Sail books about the bosom buddies Jack Aubrey (navy man through and through) and Stephen Maturin (surgeon, naturalist, spy), The Mauritius Command (1977), probably features the most action in the series up to this point. The novel begins domestically enough, with Stephen visiting Jack at his poky Hampshire cottage where he lives with his wife Sophie, their twin girls ("bald babies" with "pale, globular faces," turnip-like noses, and the air of being "infinitely old, or members of another genus"), her obnoxious niece Cecelia, and her atrocious mother Mrs. Williams. They're struggling to get by on Jack's half-pay (as a post-captain without a ship), because Mrs. Williams lost all her money and Sophie's dowry in a foolish investment. Their hives house cobwebs rather than bees; their vegetable garden is rife with caterpillars and flies; their cow is cadaverous and dry. Jack, whose natural medium is the sea, is clumsy and lugubrious on land and spends long hours in his jury-rigged observatory gazing longingly at passing ships.

Luckily for Jack, Stephen has managed to get him an important commission: he is to captain a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope, where he will join a squadron of British ships to help them give Bonaparte and company a black eye by taking the French island colonies of and around Mauritius. Stephen is to deal with intel, propaganda, and diplomacy, while Jack is to be the Commodore of the entire action. This is but a temporary post, after which he will resume being a post-captain, but success may land him a baronetcy. It surely gives Jack a host of new worries and frustrations, partly because he frets at not being able to take part in the plans he designs, partly because he must give orders to captains who are the lords of their own ships and hope that they will perform well. It is thus vital that he accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses, and they don't get on well together. In fact, Lord Clonfert envies, admires, fears, worships, and hates Jack and feels an over-mastering desire to impress and surpass him, which, combined with his dashing behavior and manic-depressive personality, makes for a compelling character.

Throughout the novel O'Brien liberally (though never tediously) sprinkles age of sail details about food, ships, tactics, and the like, as well as about Stephen's interest in flora and fauna and human nature. And, of course, plenty of action: ferocious, "hammer and tongs" naval battles, delicately coordinated land and sea attacks, aborted actions, cat and mouse games, and more. O'Brien never repeats a battle scene, whether by its events or by how he narrates them. Now he thrusts us up close and personal into real-time action, so that we hear the thundering broadsides crashing into our ship and see the deadly wooden splinters flying around and smell the powder and blood; now he stops just before an action is about to begin and lets us see what happened in the fight by reading over Jack's shoulder as he writes an enthusiastic but circumspect letter about it to Sophie. Some of the most suspenseful scenes involve transferring landlubber Stephen from one vessel to another.

The most enjoyable part of O'Brien's books is the rich friendship between Stephen and Jack as they age, share more failures and triumphs, and gain more (not always accurate) insights into each other's character. For example, "Jack loved him, and had not the least objection to granting him all the erudition in the world, while remaining inwardly convinced that in all practical matters other than physic and surgery Stephen should never be allowed out alone." Another funny example occurs when Stephen warns Jack, "To swim so soon after dinner, and such a dinner? I cannot advise it. You are very corpulent; full of gross, viscous humours after these weeks and months of Poirier's cooking. . . . dinners have killed more men than ever Avicenna healed." Stephen's continuing ignorance about the navy is mildly exasperating to Jack and comforting to the reader. And they give each other warm endearments: "my dear," "joy," and "brother."

But O'Brien avoids writing simple bromance sea adventures by including the horrifying wounds resulting from naval warfare, the slimy politicking behind promotions and appointments, the insoluble psychological mystery of Clonfert, and the occasional misanthropy of Stephen, as when Jack says, "Without there were babies, we should have no next generation," and Stephen replies, "So much the better, when you consider the state to which we've reduced the world they must live in, the bloody-minded, wolfish stock from which they spring, and the wicked inhuman society that will form them."

With a sensual poetry O'Brien evokes the experience of being at sea in the age of sail, whether feeling so cut off from the land as to be in another world, being becalmed, surviving a hurricane, or getting under way in a frigate:

"The Raisonable began to speak as she bore up for Rodriguez, spreading sail after sail: the masts complained, the taut rigging sang with a greater urgency, the sound of the water racing along her side mounted to a diffused roar; the complex orchestra of cordage, wood under stress, moving sea and wind, all-pervading sound, exalting to the sea-borne ear."

Readers who like authentic, character-driven historical sea fiction (especially like that by Forester and Lambdin set during the Napoleonic wars) must like O'Brien's books, but should begin with the first in the series, Master and Commander, for although each book is self-contained, all work together to tell one composite story.

The reader Ric Jerrom is flawless; only he can be Jack and Stephen and O'Brien's narrator for me.

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  • L. Kelly
  • 10-05-16

Chapter 9 fixed. Excellently read.

Fear not.

Purchased reluctantly due to reviews suggesting chapter 9 was missing, however Chapter 9 is now present and well.

Jerrom captures spirit of each character so well, whilst avoiding being too comical. Terrific job.

I need not recommend the story itself. These books are without peer.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. N. W. Boothman
  • 01-29-19

Wonderful

If you've got to book 4, you probably know the Aubrey-Maturin series and you'll enjoy this as much as any of the others. My only comment concerns Ric Jerrom's reading of it - either I've got used to him or this is the best yet. Or both. Only a lost star for the grisly attempts at McAdam's Northern Irish accent. Otherwise superb.

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  • WaterBloom
  • 03-14-21

Great story and reading spoilt by 197 chapters

Excellently read, this (4th in the series) is well up to the high standard of the Aubrey-Maturin sequence, but almost wrecked (ha) by the absurd division into 197 tiny chapters, which makes it a dreadful voyage of exploration every time one loses one’s place, and makes the timer setting to the end of a chapter unusable.

3 people found this helpful

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  • "pop_novel_freak"
  • 03-25-21

bad chapterisation

book is good but audibile have not followed the chapters but instead have inserted random chapters at a few minutes interval.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Speaker No.5
  • 08-23-21

Jerrom’s accents rip through the nautical lexicon..

..which constitutes O’Brian’s prose, like a thundering broadside through a French Man o’War.

The trick to enjoying O’Brian’s novels is knowing just enough of the dense terminology to pick out the brisk plot and deep character within. This is helped immeasurably by Jerrom’s turning of the narrative into an absolute stage production of voices, accents, invective and partois; delivered with verve and affection for the material. Nobody else does ‘surly belligerent sea dog currently three sheets to the wind’ with quite such humour and commitment.

Close your eyes and you can almost feel the sea air on your face. A book, and a production to get lost in -23rd August, 2.24am

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  • sinbad4england
  • 07-07-21

enjoyable romp but.........

An enjoyable romp but 'Stephen ' does waffle on a bit and when he goes off on one of his discourses I switch off for a while.
I find that as the series of books (although very good) go one 'so does Stephen' !
The narrator does a really good job and this adds to the enjoyment. The description of life onboard is so good as to transport you far and wide, along with the crew !

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  • Dunc
  • 04-09-19

My favourite since the first book

The first book was full of character development and real Naval story. Since then it's been good but too much of a soap opera too. This book had less of the latter which to me, puts this back on form.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sonia
  • 09-19-18

Captain Aubrey brought to life by Ric Jerrom

Captain Aubrey’s adventures come to life with Ric Jerrom’s reading style and interpretation. I cannot get enough of Patrick O’Brian’s series of sailing adventure stories and Ric Jerrom’s reading simply takes your breath away.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr. T. Gettins
  • 11-04-14

The end of chapter nine is missing.

Any additional comments?

Terrific vocal work by Ric Jerrom, who was an inspired choice for the Aubrey/Maturin novels.

Unfortunately due to a production error the end of chapter nine was missing in its entirety.

3 people found this helpful

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  • John mitchell
  • 07-11-22

Great battle descriptions

A bit difficult to follow at times but another 'ripping good tail ' much enjoyed

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  • V
  • 05-23-17

addicted to life at sea

... still loving the Aubrey and Maturin capers !... so onwards to desolation Island.....predigious fun!

1 person found this helpful

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  • peter brazel
  • 01-03-17

lucky Jack.

loved this novel, very entertaining, and sometimes a bit slow, and the battle scenes, make you think, thatvyour on the deck, , fighting with Lucky Jack.
I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marshall Jackson
  • 03-25-20

Enjoyable (if not memorable) listening

O’Brian’s style is true to form, though I tend to agree with earlier reviews that the book lacks the tension and climaxes that I came to expect, and really only works as a steppingstone to his further novels; it could not stand alone. I also lost a little respect for Aubrey. His attitude toward his family and daughters (though an unfortunate product of the times I know) was disappointing, so I really appreciated Maturin’s more progressive reminders. Jerrom played a fantastic McAdam, and he and Maturin’s discourses were good fun. I’m looking forward to what the next tale has in store for our old favourites!

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  • Roderic
  • 11-06-19

O'Brian is excellent as always

Listening to this audiobook is my second "reading" of The Mauritius Command. Although I have not mastered all the nautical terms and sailing strategies I enjoyed it immensely. The narration is first-class.

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  • A Knight
  • 10-31-18

Another cracking Aubrey-Matutin adventure

The narrator really makes these books come alive, with accents and inflection making it clear who's speaking and the what's happening. I love this series and enjoyed the battles and action portrayed in this book.