atrick O’Brian was a big deal back in the nineties with his Aubrey/Maturin books. Anyway, he was so hot that they scraped the bottom of the barrel for anything else he’d produced. It’s not to say that The Golden Ocean was bad – it was just forty years old at that point. And really, it’s pretty good.
The novel follows a young Irish lad, Peter Palafox, who has gotten himself a berth on Commodore Anson’s flagship of his risky round-the-world, loot-everything-Spanish expedition (which I read about in The Wager, which reminded me I had these somewhere at stack-bottom). It’s a tale of a bold young lad who deals with all the agonies of this crazy trip, from the new places he sees to the heartaches (and bodily tortures) he endures. Imagine, going all the way around the world in a sailing ship. I know a guy who went round-the-world in a cruise ship and I wasn’t into that, either (and he went through the Panama Canal, and not ’round Cape Horn (which took them a month and killed off half their men)). But it was well written – especially when they finally, finally encounter the Manila Galleon (the huge Spanish ship carrying gold and silver about the Pacific). It was an amazingly well-written battle, and I was on the edge of my seat for it.
So yes, if you are an advance reader and know how to deal with slang and technologies you might not understand, you might want to dig this one up. Great sea-stories told right.
I’ve got to dig up his book he wrote about the Wager, but I’ve also got Mistborn and some Destroyermen books to get through, too.
So many books, so little time!