The Golden Ocean

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, Oct 17, 1996 - Fiction - 288 pages
3 Reviews

The first novel Patrick O'Brian ever wrote about the sea, a precursor to the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series.

In the year 1740, Commodore (later Admiral) George Anson embarked on a voyage that would become one of the most famous exploits in British naval history. Sailing through poorly charted waters, Anson and his men encountered disaster, disease, and astonishing success. They circumnavigated the globe and seized a nearly incalcuable sum of Spanish gold and silver, but only one of the five ships survived.

This is the background to the first novel Patrick O'Brian ever wrote about the sea, a precursor to the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series that shares the excitement and rich humor of those books. The protagonist is Peter Palafox, son of a poor Irish parson, who signs on as a midshipman, never before having seen a ship. Together with his lifelong friend Sean, Peter sets out to seek his fortune, embarking upon a journey of danger, disappointment, foreign lands, and excitement.

Here is a tale certain to please not only admirers of O'Brian's work but also any reader with an adventurous soul.

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The golden ocean

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Although this 1956 title preceded O'Brian's popular Aubrey/Maturin series, it set the course they later followed. The Golden Ocean relates the adventures--or misadventures--of Peter Palafox, a ... Read full review

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I've long enjoyed Patrick O'Brian's "The Golden Ocean" and "The Unknown Shore". The "Manila Galleon" provides more of a point of view from the lower deck. While there is a wealth of detail in personalities he lacks the depth of character that O'Brian provides. His opening chapters make the ship and its discipline sound like it is on par with a prison movie. He seems to get a voyeuristic thrill from describing ship board conditions during the worst of Anson's circumnavigation. While I believe his accuracy his characters are very two dimensional with the hero of the story being an American colonial and the villain a discredited British peer. O'Brian's accounts are in two parts with "The Golden Ocean" being the better of the two books. While he doesn't pull any punches with his description of shipboard conditions he has a writing style and sense of humour that catches me by surprise. I find O'Brian's accounts much more human and three dimensional. Mason's is good but lacks the personality that O'Brian expresses.  

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About the author (1996)

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 Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

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