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Discussion Guide

Master and Commander

By Patrick O'Brian

“I love these books.… [They offer] the same sense of lived experience as Hilary Mantel.… They will sweep you away and return you delighted, increased and stunned. If the phrase ‘Napoleonic war fiction’ fills you with anticipation, then you don’t need me to convince you to read [Patrick] O’Brian. But for the rest of you.… [P]lease, just trust me.” ―Nicola Griffith, NPR


“A few books work their way… onto [bestseller] lists by genuine, lasting excellence―witness The Lord of the Rings, or Patrick O’Brian’s sea stories.”―Ursula K. Le Guin


“O’Brian’s eloquent admirers include not merely distinguished critics and reviewers but… thousands upon thousands of fervent readers who thank the gods for him.… [H]is work accomplishes nobly the three grand purposes of art: to entertain, to edify, and to awe.” ―Stephen Becker, Paris Review


“For escapist reading, I especially like the sea novels of Patrick O’Brian.”―Bill Bryson


“[Patrick O’Brian has] the power of bringing near to the reader… savagery and tenderness, beauty and mystery and boldness and dignity.”―Eudora Welty