Treason’s Harbour

Patrick O’Brian

Uniquely among authors of naval fiction, Patrick O’Brian allows his characters to develop with experience. The Jack Aubrey of Treason’s Harbour has a record of successes equal to that of the most brilliant of Nelson’s band of brothers, and he is no less formidable or decisive in action or strategy. But he is wiser, kinder, gentler too.

Much of the plot of Treason’s Harbour depends on intelligence and counter-intelligence, a field in which Aubrey’s friend Stephen Maturin excels. Through him we get a clearer insight into the life and habits of the sea officers of Nelson’s time than we would ever obtain seeing things through their own eyes. There is plenty of action and excitement in this novel, but it is the atmosphere of a Malta crowded with senior officers waiting for news of what the French are up to, and wondering whether the war will end before their turn comes for prize money and for fame, that is here so freshly and vividly conveyed.

Reviews of Treason’s Harbour

  • ‘Full of the energy that comes from a writer having struck a vein…Patrick O’Brian is unquestionably the Homer of the Napoleonic wars.’ James Hamilton-Paterson

    ‘You are in for the treat of your lives. Thank God for Patrick O’Brian: his genius illuminates the literature of the English language, and lightens the lives of those who read him.’ Kevin Myers, Irish Times

    ‘In a highly competitive field it goes straight to the top. A real first-rater.’ Mary Renault

    ‘I never enjoyed a novel about the sea more. It is not only that the author describes the handling of a ship of 1800 with an accuracy that is as comprehensible as it is detailed, a remarkable feat in itself. Mr O’Brian’s three chief characters are drawn with no less depth of sympathy than the vessels he describes, a rare achievement save in the greatest writers of this genre. It deserves the widest readership.’ Irish Times