HMS Surprise (novel)

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HMS Surprise is the third book of the Aubrey-Maturin series and seeing Jack and Stephen off to India and the shipping of the East India Company.

HMS Surprise -- originally published in 1973

For more details about the plot, which will contain spoilers, see Summary for HMS Surprise


Important New Characters:

Richard Canning: A Jewish merchant and ship builder. He offers Jack a chance to captain one of his newest ships as a letter of marque. He also takes Diana Villiers into keeping, upsetting British society not to mention his wife and family and he leaves, with Diana, for India.

Dil: a peasant girl Stephen meets in Bombay, she is his guide while he is in the city. Stephen sees a pure innocence in her that he would love to preserve, but is unsure how he can.

Mr Stanhope: the new envoy to Kampong. Stanhope is not a good sailor, constantly ill.

Officers in HMS Lively

  • Simmons -- First Lieutenant
  • Randall -- Second Lieutenant
  • Fielding -- Lieutenant (not to be confused with Charles Fielding or James Fielding seen in later books)
  • John Dashwood -- Lieutenant
  • Lord Garron -- Lieutenant
  • Butler -- Midshipman
  • Norry -- Master
  • Carew -- Chaplain

Officers of HMS Surprise

  • Hervey -- First Lieutenant (promoted master and commander when Surprise reaches Bombay)
  • Stourton -- First Lieutenant after Hervey is promoted
  • Nicolls -- Second Lieutenant (lost during a storm)
  • Thomas Pullings -- Third Lieutenant (made second after the loss of Nicolls)
  • William Babbington - Midshipman (made acting lieutenant after Nicolls' death)
  • Braithwaite -- Senior Midshipman
  • Callow -- Midshipman
  • Joliffe -- Midshipman
  • William Church -- Midshipman
  • Meadows -- Midshipman
  • Harrowby -- Master
  • Bowes -- Purser
  • Hailes -- Gunner
  • Peters -- Master at Arms
  • Barret Bonden -- Coxswain
  • Nevin -- Clerk
  • Rev. White -- Chaplain


  • Animals:

Sea Serpent -- Pg 189 (Norton) Stephen has captured a sea-serpent in a net. While still netted, the snake bites itself several times and dies; its colors fading before Stephen's eyes. The snake works as a symbol for Diana and how her capture by Canning has faded her own vivacity and spark.

Books in the Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian

Master and Commander | Post Captain | HMS Surprise | The Mauritius Command | Desolation Island | The Fortune of War | The Surgeon's Mate | The Ionian Mission | Treason's Harbour | The Far Side of the World | The Reverse of the Medal | The Letter of  Marque | The Thirteen-Gun Salute | The Nutmeg of Consolation | Clarissa Oakes/The Truelove | The Wine-Dark Sea | The Commodore | The Yellow Admiral | The Hundred Days | Blue at the Mizzen | 21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

Other books by Patrick O'Brian
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