The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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This, the eighth Aubrey and Maturing book, is far and away my least favourite in the series so far. In the first two thirds of the book both Aubrey and Maturin are plagued by self-doubts about both their courage and their abilities. Aubrey, already depressed by his legal issues at home, has been given a ship that was badly designed, badly made and only just holding together, and they set off to join a fleet blockading the French in the Mediterranean under the command of an Admiral in rapid decline both in body and morale, a job boring and depressing for both the protagonists and the reader. All of which might be very realistic but it’s really not much fun to read; everything has a tedious and downbeat feel to it. This all changes in the latter third where the book steps up a gear and feels more like O’Brian’s more normal exciting writing, but for me it was too late to revive a book that had up to this point barely limped along. And this was only compounded by an ending so abrupt I had to go and check that my ebook wasn’t actually missing a chunk off the end. So much, both politically and personally, was left unresolved that I was left both unsatisfied and disappointed.

At least, based upon other readers’ comments, it would appear O’Brian does return to form in the books following this one.

2/5 stars
 
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