Patrick Tull, reader of the books on tapeIf one were to begin the series of Patrick O' Brian books, should they be read in the order in which they were written? I'm finding good prices for some of the later books and looking to get through 1 or 2 while I am out of the country for a few weeks without internet access and distractions.

Gibbons Burke comments:

Yes, the series should be read in order, though some recommend that some readers may find that the second book of the series is a better introduction to the canon because there are more scenes on land.

I found it tremendously helpful reading the novels the first time through to have a dictionary and a pocket atlas readily available. Dean King's "A Sea of Words" is a most helpful companion to the series, as are his book of maps detailing the voyages in the novels, "Harbors & High Seas".

Google maps would be an even better resource these days. An iPad with the novels loaded into the Kindle app (they're not yet available in iBookstore), or audiobooks in the iPod app, combined with the Maps app, and the built-in dictionary would be a great way to circumnavigate the canon. Capt. Aubrey, who was ever interested in the latest go-fast sailing tech, might even approve, though it is likely O'Brian would express contempt.

Chris Tucker writes:

When Victor first introduced me to the books I mentioned that I had a bone to pick with him about them and that is that I was staying up until all hours of the night reading and I wasn't getting enough sleep. He wisely recommended that I try books on CD and listen to them while driving or whenever I had time to do so and so I forgave him for depriving me of sleep. I took advantage of the local library to get ahold of the recordings because they are a bit pricey.

If using a library, I find that tapes are actually better than CDs because if there is bad patch on a tape you may miss a few words or perhaps still here them but with derogated quality, but with a CD you may miss an entire track or two. Also important to note if listening to this series on CD or tape, Chair highly recommends, and I emphatically second, that you listen to the series as read by Patrick Tull, who manages to add to the already incredible drama that O'Brian evokes. Books read by Tull are available at RecordedBooks.com here.





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