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Sep 5, 2006 4:47am


I never mentioned it, but I finished Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series earlier this year. It's a collection of 20 historical novels set in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars (early 19th century). Gem turned me on to the series after we saw Master and Commander, and the books are absolutely brilliant.

The most interesting thing about the books as a whole is the arc of the plot(s). Very few of the books begin and end a single story. Instead, there tend to be three scales of plot: the mission that gives each book its title typically provides only a loose framework for microplot elements (battles, shipwrecks, etc.) of which there are dozens per volume. The macroplot moves from book to book, and concerns friendships, legal troubles, courtships, and marriages. Taken as a whole, the series is one long story spanning as many as two decades.

They're very much worth reading, if you take the necessary six-to-eight months to do so. It also helps to have the right dictionary.

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