The Unknown Shore

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - Fiction - 313 pages
4 Reviews
Patrick O'Brian's first novel about the sea, The Golden Ocean, took inspiration from Commodore Anson's fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740. In The Unknown Shore, O'Brian returns to this rich source and mines it brilliantly for another, quite different tale of exploration and adventure. The Wager was parted from Anson's squadron in the fierce storms off Cape Horn and struggled alone up the coast of Chile until it was driven against the rocks and sank. The survivors were soon involved in trouble of every kind. A surplus of rum, a disappearing stock of food, and a hard, detested captain soon drove them into drunkenness, mutiny, and bloodshed. After many months of privation, a handful of men made their way northward under the guidance of a band of Indians, at last finding safety in Valparaiso. This saga of survival is the background to the adventures of two young men aboard the Wager: midshipman Jack Byron and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon's mate. An immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels, The Unknown Shore displays all the splendid prose and attention to detail that O'Brian's readers have come to expect. Yet perhaps this novel's most fascinating aspect is the characterization of Jack and Toby, for in them we catch tantalizing glimpses of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, famed heroes of the great series to come.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Algybama - LibraryThing

The narration hardly ever cracks - a pretty astounding thing, given how drawn-out the descriptions can be. The dialogue's formatting is really masterful, but I didn't appreciate the lazy and often ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Mining the same material that he used for his first sea-tale (The Golden Ocean, 1956), O'Brian returned three years later to Commodore Anson's 1740 globe-circling voyage in The Unknown Shore ... Read full review

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About the author (1995)

Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherri re's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

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