New Book Alert for Patrick O'Brian Lovers

Tuesday my girlfriend came home from the library with this book for me.

The book is called The Road to Samarcand, written by Patrick O’Brian in the early 1950’s but published for the first time in the U.S. only this past month. After I got over my initial Surprise (hah!) of seeing a POB book that I had never heard of and confirmed that it indeed was by him, I sat down and read the book’s description on the cover flap.

To compare me to a kid on Christmas, after I’d read this, would be a gross understatement. An Indiana Jones type story written by POB, complete with exotic locales, a treasure hunt, myth, and murderous intrigue? Its like a dream come true. My life lacked meaning before I heard of this book.

I’ve been busy, so as of now, I’m only about 1/4 of the way into the book. So far it has lived up to my expectations. The actual character of the archaeologist is sort of an anti-Indiana Jones, more like Marcus Brodie in the 3rd film than anything. POB does a masterful job of writing him though, and the character is hilarious. The only complaint I have about the book so far is that it seems like POB wrote it for a young adult audience and at times it has a Hardy Boys like feel to it. Some might also take issue with the character of Liu Han who is the most egregious Chinese stereotype since the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. He, however, is also written with POB’s tremendous wit.

For anyone who loves POB, and adventure stories in general, I highly recommend this book.

Despite the fact I love a ripping sea yarn, I’ve never been able to plod through any of the Aubrey-Maturin books. If you truly are a Patrick O’Brien freak, though, you ought to pick up a copy of The Horsemen by Joseph Kessel, which was translated by POB and made into a movie in the early '70s starring Omar Sharif. It’s wonderful.

As much as I love the Aubrey/Maturin series, I’ve never read anything else by POB. I think his prose is difficult to read until you’ve been hooked; I nearly gave up after the first book, and didn’t fall in love with them until the third.

I guess I’m afraid that I’m only a fan of Jack and Stephen, and not of sea yarns in general, but I really need to give his other books a try.

I once read a book of his short stories. Strange, creepy, stuff – if I’d read them without the cover, I don’t know if I would ever have guessed that the author wrote Aubrey/Maturin.

O’Brian was a complex character. (Which is to say, he was a novelist.)

I gave up on Master and Commander my first time reading it too. There is no question that he is tough if you’re not used to his writing style. I think the one thing, more than anything else, that makes him a hard read is his habit of changing the setting or the character in mid-stream without really giving the reader much in the way of indication that he is doing so; and, of course, the nautical language definitely takes some acclimation.

The one thing that I absolutely love about POB is his vocabulary. I pride myself on mine, but I am guaranteed to come across at least one word in each of his books that I’ve never heard before (like superogation).

Of his non-M&C books, I’ve only read three prior to this one. Unknown Shore and Golden Ocean, which are essentially the same as the M&C books, but with the same young-adult perspective as RtS; and Testimonies, which is a pretty dark and twisted tale, but the kind that you can’t easily shake off after you’ve read it.

I’ve put it on my Amazon wish list, MichaelQReilly. After I did so, Amazon recommended to me another new-to-me Patrick O’Brian novel: The Catalans. Have you or anyone in this thread read this one?