Book Log #52: Treason’s Harbour, by Patrick O’Brian

Some may say that listening to an audio book doesn’t count as reading it–that you lose something in the process of imagining the action for yourself, and that there’s an extra layer of interpretation between you and the author’s words because someone else is reading them to you.

Me, I don’t quibble about this much. As far as I’m concerned, a decent narrator can do a great deal to make a story come alive, and Patrick Tull did do a very fine job narrating the version of Treason’s Harbour I listened to. I did have to do various mental doubletakes at his portrayals of various character accents, since I have Aubrey and Maturin thoroughly imprinted into my brain as Mr. Crowe and Mr. Bettany from the movie–but aside from that, Mr. Tull did do very well distinguishing character accents from his own voice. And in general he seemed a fine narrator for the overall flavor of an Aubrey-Maturin adventure, very British, very proper, and sounding in character for the time frame in which the books are set.

As for the story itself, now we’re talking. This has been my favorite of the last few of the Aubrey-Maturins I’ve read, in no small part because of the delightful intrigue plot involving Stephen having to help Mrs. Laura Fielding, who’s been forced by the French to try to spy on their behalf because they’ve imprisoned her husband. There are quite a few hijinx involving Aubrey being mistaken for her lover while she is in fact trying to seduce Stephen, and Aubrey himself mistakenly believing that Stephen is in fact having an affair with her–all of which provides quite a bit of lovely character interaction between our two principles.

Played off against this is Stephen’s actual intrigue going on with Mrs. Fielding, as he enlists Mrs. Fielding’s willing help to turn the French’s efforts against them. Meanwhile, Jack has intrigue of his own as he’s ordered to go on an urgent mission into the Red Sea, which gives the reader a fine opportunity to see an older, more seasoned Jack desperately trying to turn his fortunes around by pulling off another spectacular success… and what happens when things don’t go quite so well as that.

Overall this was highly enjoyable, as the Aubrey-Maturins generally are for me, and I’m ready to take on The Far Side of the World! Four stars.