December 30, 2002

Blue at the Mizzen, by Patrick O'Brian

So it ends. After nearly two years, reading approximately one volume a month (and skipping a couple of months), I've finally come to the ultimate conclusion of O'Brian's twenty-volume saga, reading this book for the first time ever just this month. I began it with some trepidation, given that its predecessor was only so-so; some of my fears were justified, but not all.

Jack does a lot of hurrying hither and thither in this book, more or less in clandestine pursuit of Chilean independance from Spain; some of the action is to the point, and some of it seems like filler. Stephen's romance with Christine Wood blossoms; I thought the sequences dealing with that topic were among the best in the book, which surprised me considering the cheap and sleazy way O'Brian got rid of Diana in the previous book.

O'Brian didn't know this was to be his last book; the reports of his death indicated that he was a chapter or two into a new Aubrey/Maturin book, and I think that's just as well. The closing pages of Blue at the Mizzen bring Jack the orders making him Rear Admiral of the Blue; and while Stephen's future with Christine Wood (a woman much more suited to him than Diana ever was) is by no means assured, there are promising signs. As this is the last book, I choose to believe that ultimately they are married, and live happily ever after.

And so they sail off into the sunset. What could be fairer than that?

Posted by Will Duquette at December 30, 2002 04:11 PM