Author(s): Patrick O'Brian
Master and Commander establishes the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey RN and Stephen Maturin, who becomes his secretive ship's surgeon and an intelligence agent. It displays the qualities which have put O'Brian far ahead of any of his competitors: his depiction of the detail of life aboard an early 19th-century man-of-war, of weapons, food, conversation and ambience, of the landscape and of the sea. O'Brian's portrayal of each of these is faultless, and the sense of period throughout is acute. His power of characterisation is above all masterly.