The novel The Far Side of the World is really very much different than the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I greatly enjoyed the movie, but I think it was a poor decision to burden it with that subtitle; not only is it unwieldy in the extreme, but it creates some odd expectations. As far as I can tell, the filmmakers took the very general skeleton of The Far Side of the World—a journey into the Pacific after an enemy ship that's preying on whalers—and fleshed it out with episodes from Master and Commander. (And the hapless Hollom, though his entire story is different as well.)
In itself, The Far Side of the World feels much more exciting than the past couple of books. It's a return to the single-voyage, single-mission volume that was last seen in Desolation Island, which I think I may have a slight preference for as a structure. Or perhaps I just happen to like this book a lot; I'll probably have to finish the whole series to really decide. At any rate, it has lots of exciting things happen and a fine rhythm and range of emotion. It even withstood a couple hours' worth of listening late, late at night while waiting for tests to be run in the emergency room (I'm fine, don't worry), which I doubt would be true of a lot of books.
In closing, I like this mini-portrait of Jack Aubrey:
There were two chief reasons for this steady preparation: the first was that Jack Aubrey thoroughly enjoyed life; he was of a cheerful sanguine disposition, his liver and lights were in capital order, and unless the world was treating him very roughly indeed, as it did from time to time, he generally woke up feeling pleased and filled with a lively expectation of enjoying the day. Since he took so much pleasure in life, therefore, he meant to go on living as long as ever he could, and it appeared to him that the best way of ensuring this in a naval action was to fire three broadsides for his enemy's two, and to fire them deadly straight. The second reason, closely allied to the first, was that his idea of a crack ship was one with a strong, highly-skilled crew that could outmanoeuvre and then outshoot the opponent, a taut but happy ship, an efficient man-of-war — in short a ship that was likely to win at any reasonable odds.
Have I said recently how much I like Jack and Stephen?
#1 :: Kate wrote on September 26, 2006 at 9:30 AM:
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