21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

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==Major characters in ''21''==
==Major characters in ''21''==
*'''[[John Aubrey]]''' Post-captain
*'''[[[[Jack Aubrey]] (Rear-Admiral John Aubrey)]]''' Naval officer, newly promoted to flag rank
*'''[[Sophia (Sophie) Aubrey]]''' His wife
*'''[[Sophia (Sophie) Aubrey]]''' His wife
*'''Charlotte and Frances (Fanny) Aubrey''' Jack and Sophie’s daughters
*'''Charlotte and Frances (Fanny) Aubrey''' Jack and Sophie’s daughters

Revision as of 15:09, 23 June 2007


21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey is the final episode of the Aubrey-Maturin series, an unfinished novel consisting of two chapters and the greater part of a third; written in November-December 1999 and published in 2004.

Page references are to the HarperCollins hardback edition


The manuscript

O’Brian left 61 hand-written A4 sheets, including a few which were deleted and replaced, and a further leaf of notes, together with a typed transcript (with some revisions) which breaks off nine pages from the end. A substantial passage of chapter 1 exists only in the typescript; evidently the author was experimenting with composition directly at the keyboard.

A marginal note on page 81 refers to ‘a sudden flurry [?] of hail 3.xii.99’. After this point O'Brian still had time to write most of Chapter 3 and to type out the greater part of the material (there are internal indications that he alternated between writing and typing instead of beginning to type after breaking off the manuscript itself). It appears, therefore, that he must still have been at work within three weeks at most of his death on 2nd January 2000.

Plot introduction

After the Chilean adventure detailed in Blue at the Mizzen, Jack Aubrey is on his way to take up his appointment as Rear-Admiral of the Blue. Fortune seems to be set fair for both him and Stephen Maturin: the one is arrived at the height of a sea-officer’s ambition, the other has high hopes of a second and far more congenial marriage with the beautiful Christine Wood, and their great enemy is fallen for ever. Jack finds his squadron off Buenos Aires and the two friends are joined by their nearest and dearest. But trouble awaits them both. For Jack it takes the form of a cantankerous Commander-in-Chief and an ominous suggestion of bad blood within his own family, while Stephen has to deal with an influential and potentially dangerous rival.

For more details about the plot, which will contain spoilers, see Summary for The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

Major characters in 21

  • [[Jack Aubrey (Rear-Admiral John Aubrey)]] Naval officer, newly promoted to flag rank
  • Sophia (Sophie) Aubrey His wife
  • Charlotte and Frances (Fanny) Aubrey Jack and Sophie’s daughters
  • Amos Jacob Jewel-merchant and intelligence agent
  • Preserved Killick Steward to Jack Aubrey
  • Admiral Lord Leyton Commander-in-chief on the Cape of Good Hope station
  • Mr Martin Admiral Leyton’s secretary
  • Stephen Maturin Irish-Catalan physician, naturalist and intelligence agent
  • Brigid Maturin Stephen’s daughter
  • Captain Randolph (or Henry) Miller Soldier, Lord Leyton’s nephew, neighbour of Jack Aubrey in Dorset and admirer of Christine Wood
  • Sam Panda Papal nuncio; natural son of Jack Aubrey
  • Doctor Quental Medical officer for the River Plate harbour
  • Wainwright Miller’s servant
  • Christine Wood Widow, naturalist, beloved of Stephen Maturin

Ships of 21

  • Ringle Schooner acting as tender to Surprise
  • HMS Suffolk (74) Jack Aubrey’s flagship as Rear-Admiral. (The Suffolk was a real ship, built in 1765. As with Surprise, the author has considerably extended her life, the real-life Suffolk having been broken up in 1803. There is plenty of historical precedent for the use of very old ships on outlying stations; compare the 50-year-old Victory in the Baltic and the 95-year-old French Canonnière in the Indian Ocean [mentioned in The Mauritius Command]). It is noticeable that O'Brian specifies 24-pounders as her main armament (p.52) whereas the historical Suffolk carried 32-pounders; this may be a deliberate change, based on the fact that an old ship could be seriously damaged by the recoil of very heavy firing. See Bruce Trinque’s website ‘The Ships of Jack Aubrey’, [1] .
  • Surprise (28) Former naval frigate, lately on hire to the Navy as a survey vessel

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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