“Robert Hardy has a consummate knack of giving timbre and atmosphere to everything he reads. That’s not to dimiss O’Brian’s skilfully constructed adventures, where the dialogue and politics are of a very high order of authenticity.”
Time Out 5/2/97
'… full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein… Patrick O'Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.' James Hamilton-Paterson
‘If O’Brian’s novels have become a cult, this is because they are truly addictive… They are, quite magnificently, adventure yarns whose superb authenticity never distracts from the sheer thrill of the action.’
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
‘This is no mere sea story. It is history as it must have felt… Take up these books and you will share their dangers, taste their food and wine, tremble through their terrible battles, and understand for the first time the exacting and harsh nature of life in the Napoleonic era… Perhaps best of all is O’Brian’s mastery of the English language. He plays it like an orchestra, somehow bringing the rich, powerful speech of the period back to life.’
Peter Hitchens, Daily Express
"There are those already planning this afternoon's trip to the bookstore. Their only reaction is: Thank god, Patrick O'Brian is still writing. To you, I say, not a moment to lose."—John Balzar, Los Angeles Times
Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey in The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O'Brian's best-selling novel and eighteenth volume in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the Admiralty by his erratic voting as a Member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong Navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour: in the storm waters off Brest he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but this at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and this feeds into Jack's private fears for his career.
Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie's forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.