This article is a brief overview of the Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian in five parts. I think Patrick O'Brian is one of the best novelists of the 20th century. His 20 book Aubrey/Maturin series, set during the Napoleonic wars, is a great look into lives, struggles, adventures of the people of early 19th century.
The series centers on the close, and intimate relationship of two very different people brought together by a love for music. One an officer in the great British navy who plays the violin, the other an Irish physician involved in the uprising of the late 1700s turned intelligence agent who can play the cello. As the series progress, we see how this relationship is growing.
The first book Master and Commander starts as Jack Aubrey encounters Stephen Maturin at a musical suare in Port Mahon. Later, Aubrey finds out that he is promoted to Master and Commander and given the command of the brig Sophie. He offers the vacant post of the ship's surgeon to his new friend Maturin. Maturin, being unemployed, accepts. Jack Aubrey's exploits in the Mediterranean with the Sophie becomes legendary so that he will be forever called Lucky Jack Aubrey by the other service members. At the end of the book, Aubrey captures a 32 gun Spanish frigate with his 14 gun brig. In the next book Post Captain, after some politics and a daring expedition across the channel, he is promoted to the rank of post captain with the help of Maturin's contacts and takes part in the capture of Spanish treasure ships. Post Captain also dwells into the struggles of the new friends and their personality clashes along with a dangerous competition to win the affection of Diana Villiers. They come to the brink of duelling. By the end of the book, their relationship reaches to its first level of maturity. Aubrey chooses Villiers' cousin Sophie to be his bride. In the third book, HMS Surprise, we meet the most important ship of the series, HMS Surprise, a 28 gun frigate. Maturin is sent to Spain for a mission by the Admiralty and is captured by the French. Aubrey saves him and kills his interrogaters, but is sent to prison ( sponging house ) for debt upon return to England. Maturin helps him get released and they go on a mission to carry an ambassador to East Indies. Due to damage from the storms, they put into India where Maturin runs into Diana and askes her to marry him, but does not get an answer. Sailing back, the Surpise encounters a French fleet that is after the Indiamen, the merchant fleet ships going back and forth between England and India. They warn the Indiamen and fend off the French with Surprise engaging a 74 gun warship.The Surprise then heads home.
The first three books are a great introduction to this wonderful and witty seafaring advantures of Aubrey and Maturin set during the Napoleonic wars.