Tuesday, 8 July 2003

The letter of marque

Listening to:

Dvořák, Cello concerto.

Just read:

Patrick O’Brian, The letter of marque.

The 12th book in the series, and not a bad one at that. It’s not as good as its predecessor, but the characters’ story remains interesting. My beef with this installment of the saga is that the plot is rather lacking in dramatic tension, particularly given the interesting situation that holds as it begins. Jack Aubrey has been removed from the Navy, and is forced to adventure as a privateer, with a letter of marque. This only makes a difference in a number of subtle ways, and the naval action could really be out of any of the early books.

As the story progresses, everything continues to get better and better for the characters, meaning that there is no mid-story ‘hour of darkness’ to be worked through and surpassed. This again makes things a little uninvolving. There is one neat sub-splot involving Maturin and his servant Padeen though.

Now reading:

J. R. R. Tolkien, The lord of the rings. I'm now up to the early chapters of The two towers. Incidentally, Tolkien neatly deflects one of my earlier criticisms of inconsistency with The Hobbit. In his prologue on the nature of hobbits, Tolkien says that hobbits would say that a person hadn’t heard of the king to indicate the person was lawless or wild. This even though the hobbits well knew that there wasn’t a king. It’s a slightly hack-ish retrospective fix-up, but it’s there.

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