‘Master and Commander’ by Patrick O’Brian

Overall Rating: Recommended (How I Rate Books)

Personal Rating: Great setting. Felt like the Napoleonic Era.

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Genres: Napoleonic Era, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Military Fiction

Similar books:

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:


Spoilers below. You’ve been warned!

I’m keeping this review short because I’ve been writing a ton lately.

This book felt like the Temeraire books (at least those I’ve read). I’m guessing the Temeraire books were based in part on this. Like, a LOT.

This story is a Napoleonic era Naval story, about British sailors adventuring on the high seas, fighting corsairs, dastardly French, Spaniards and at times their own men’s worse natures. It was good.

For my Fantasy readers, I’ll use Temeraire as a touchstone to compare to this. Did you like book 1 of the Temeraire series, about ships and the relationships between officers and enlistedmen, and the foibles of British society? How about the whole British vs French sort of thing, and the men of the British Navy/Military behaving like honorable gentlemen? Perhaps you want to see that, but without the magic/dragons? Check this out.

To compare the two,

  • I think this book
    • did the whole Napoleonic era setting better. This is a big selling point for Historical Fiction, because it helped with immersion a ton. Even 200 years after the Napoleonic Era, reading this I was immediately immersed.
    • did the whole ‘gentlemen warrior’ thing better, and did the whole ‘foibles of everyday military life’ better. If you like military fiction, check this out, it’s sweet.
  • I think the first Temeraire book
    • had a more streamlined plot and pacing, and
    • was more on-the-nose about the social commentary
      • This isn’t bad! I liked the social commentary. But it was more obvious than the social commentary in Master&Commander.
    • had Dragons
  • Both
    • had good characters
    • had good-to-great prose

I’d recommend you read them both. If you’re a Fantasy fan, start with Temeraire. If you like that, try Master and Commander. If you’re a Historical Fiction fan, start with Master and Commander. Honestly, these two books complement one another very well, so read both if you’re so inclined. I’m going to be reading more in this series.

Have a good day!

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