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Summary

It is still the War of 1812 and Jack Aubrey - with his tetchy, sardonic friend Stephen Maturin - has set course across the South Atlantic to intercept a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. If they do not come up with her before she rounds the Horn, they must follow her into the Great South Sea and as far across the Pacific as she may lead them.

But Aubrey has to cope with a succession of disasters - men overboard, castaways, encounters with savages, storms, typhoons, groundings, shipwrecks, to say nothing of murder and criminal insanity.

©1984 The Estate of the late Patrick O'Brian CBE (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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Great but shame about the editing

Having been a Patrick O'Brian fan since the 1990s I am delighted that the novels are now being produced as unabridged audio books with the talented Ric Jerrom managing to capture every character with a different and convincing voice, often within the same sentence. Robert Hardy made some great audio recordings about 10 years ago but, being abridged, they did not do justice to this a amazing canon of work. For anyone new to the Aubrey-Maturin novels, you have a treat in store, this is Hornblower meets John Le Carre with Origin of Species, as these unlikely friends travel the world in the service of the Royal Navy of the Napoloeonic era. Maturin is a surgeon, spy and naturalist and shares with Captain Aubrey and the reader the complex political issues of the time and the discoveries of science. However he knows nothing of the sea, giving Aubrey a reason to explain to him and us the workings of the ship and the tactics of naval warfare. This book, The Far Side of the World perhaps contains more action than any other, with the pair going round the Horn into the Pacific and surviving, amongst many other adventures, being lost overboard and, after their miraculous rescue, being plucked from a desert island occupied by mutineers.

The publishers are releasing each new recording on the 1st of the month which is great for us enthusiasts. However, this time they have slipped up on the editing. Ric Jerrom is clearly a perfectionist, if he is not satisfied with the intonation or emphasis of a sentence he reads it again. Several of these have not been edited out and if they would please attend to this in future releases, a perfect outcome will have been achieved.

16 people found this helpful

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badly edited

Good story well narrated but lots of repeated sentences due to poor production. way below the usual standard.

4 people found this helpful

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School boy editorial errors

As usual a wonderful story from Patrick O Brian read with brilliance by Ric Jerorom. Only let down by a few editing errors by the production staff which really should have been checked before release.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent with some similarities to the film

This is the book that the original film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is based upon however much of the storyline is different. It’s a very good story though.

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a wonderful naval tranche of sea life

the best narrator so far in audible and a wonderful tale of naval action on board hms surprise with irrepressible caotain Aubrey

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Excellent narrator

Well read by narrator Typically excellent story by Patrick O Brian Totally recommend this book

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Flawless

I was left breathless at the end. The best yet, in terms of performance and story!! What a tale!

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great story.

thrilling with hardly a shot fired. fascinating flora and fauna of the Galapagos, awful weather, great seamanship and the politics of war make for a great story. needless to say, great narration too

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Exciting as always pity for the ed. errors

Exciting and full of action, excellent performance from Rick Jerrom. Pity for the many editorial errors.

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Good entertaining plot

Not sure why I have to write another story about why I liked the story...

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  • Jefferson
  • 09-11-20

Cape Horn, Whales, Jonahs, Amazons, Weather

In the tenth novel in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series of age of sail novels, Post-Captain Jack Aubrey and his best friend, naturalist, surgeon, and spy Stephen Maturin are off again aboard the HMS Surprise, this time around Cape Horn to “the far side of the world” in the Pacific off the coast of South America to protect British whaling ships from the depredations of the USS Norfolk. The War of 1812 is ongoing, and the French and British are still at war. The beginning of the novel summarizes the climax of the previous novel (Treason’s Harbour) and then details Jack’s efforts to outfit his ship and its crew of 200 men with provisions for six months. He adds to his crew the 40-year-old loser Midshipman Hollom (whom Jack fears may become “a Jonah” aboard the Surprise), a new Master Mr. Allen (who knows whaling and the Pacific), long-time friend Mr. Pullings (who’s now a post-captain without a ship), and the impotent gunner Mr. Horner (who’ll be sailing with his comely young wife). Jack will also have several new midshipmen, little boy sons of fellow captains, and hence will need a schoolmaster, so Mr. Martin, a learned chaplain, will also join the Surprise. Finally, Jack is conned by the port-admiral of Gibraltar into taking on an assortment of “mutineers and maniacs,” most of them “landsmen,” whom he and his officers will have to drill into shape. While Jack is preparing the Surprise, Stephen is sitting atop the rock of Gibraltar, watching the myriad birds from black storks to Barbary partridges passing the strait between Africa and Europe. Stephen also gets his own men to join the Surprise: Mr. Higgins to pull teeth and a huge illiterate guy from the insane ward to be his servant. After leaving Gibraltar the Surprise faces numerous challenges: reefs, rivers, swells, tides, trades, and storms (Jack says at one point “I have never known any commission with so much weather in it”) as well as fraught human relationships. However, apart from one skirmish between castrating Polynesian Amazons and the Surprise crew briefly recounted afterwards to Stephen by a participant and one engagement between the Surprise and an American whaler briefly witnessed from a distance by Stephen, readers impatient for violent naval action featuring ferocious broadsides and desperate boardings may be bored. In lieu of nautical war scenes, O’Brian evokes what it felt like to be at sea on a man of war in the age of sail in various climates and weathers and conditions, as well as to experience the flora and fauna of the jungles of South America and the denizens of the southern Pacific seas (sperm whales in groups of 100-200!) in the early 19th century. Sometimes things are quiet: “The frigate ran sweetly before the wind, in almost total silence, little more than the song of the water down her side, and the rhythmic creak of the masts, yards, and countless blocks, as she shouldered the remnants of the long western swell, with that living rise and turn her captain knew so well.” Sometimes severe: “the world’s grim end, a tall blackness on the rim of the sea that continually flashed white as the rollers broke at its foot and dashed far up the towering rock.” Sometimes sublime: “A tropic bird came clipping fast across the breeze, and circled above the ship, a satiny white bird with a pearly pink flush, and two immensely long tail feathers trailing far behind.” *It doesn’t matter that I often have no exact idea what the men are doing with the ship (e.g., “You must grackle your cables”), because O’Brian writes clearly enough for lubbers like me to follow the action or has Stephen (who has not “not attained the slightest tincture of seamanship”) receive an explanation or explain something to the even more unseamanly Martin. O’Brian writes insightful lines about individual personality (“Wit rarely flashed spontaneously upon him [Jack], which was a pity, since no man took more delight in it, even at infinitesimal doses, in himself or others”) and human nature (“The heart is perverse among all things, and unsearchable”). He’s often funny, as when Stephen tells Jack, “You are not unlike Shakespeare . . . Because his clowns make quips of that bludgeoning knock me down nature.” Jack and Stephen and their deep and pleasing friendship also make the novel a pleasure to read, when they’re playing their violin and cello together at night in the Captain’s cabin, dealing with a crisis, or saying to each other something like, “Never distress yourself, brother.” They are the consummate odd couple. Ashore Jack is a gullible fool caught in a web of financial and legal entanglements but at sea is an efficient and successful fighter and leader, “Lucky Jack Aubrey,” while Stephen is “the most hopeless lubber,” swims by drowning, and makes boarding any ship a dangerous adventure but is adept at delicate and dangerous cloak and dagger espionage on land. Indeed, one flaw I felt in the ninth novel (Treason’s Harbour) and in this tenth one is that despite obvious clues Stephen is too obtuse when it comes to the “Judas” traitor selling out the British to the French, the acting second secretary of the Admiralty Andrew Wray. O’Brian says here that Stephen, although experienced, “wary, percipient, and acute . . . was capable of making mistakes,” but it smacks of conflict-enabling plot contrivance. About the audiobook, Ric Jerrom continues to be The Reader for the series, having become for me the voice of Jack (beefy good-natured British) and Stephen (intelligent slightly misanthropic Irish) and their shipmates (and he sings a mean sailor’s song too). Just one flaw: for some reason he several times repeats a clause or phrase, which should have been removed from the audiobook. This entry in the series is solid, but although it avoids ending with a cliffhanger, it does end abruptly, leaving the micro situation unexplained and the macro situation unresolved, so you will be left wanting to start the next novel right away.

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  • Taylor Britton
  • 10-11-20

a highlight of the series

while the plot is scaled towards seamanship and away from spycraft once again, the book still serves as a template for the whole series thus far. it is clear why it was used as an entry point to the development of the movie, though if anything I now wish more elements from this tale were used in the film in place of its substitutes. the depiction of the conflict with the americans alone would have made an interesting twist american audiences, finding themselves cheering on the british for once.

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  • Dr. Terence M. Dwyer
  • 10-11-20

Superb reading

Mr Jerrom does a wonderful job bringing characters to life and keeping them consistent in character and voice book to book.

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  • EC Williams
  • 11-07-20

Poor editing

There were a few repeated lines, due to poor editing, but Jerrom's performance remains excellent.