Please help me continue my reading binge
September 5, 2010 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I have just finished reading Patrick O'Brian's 21 volume Aubrey-Maturin series and C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower books. Can anyone suggest any other series like these focused on naval warfare during the Napoleonic wars so I can continue on my reading binge? Thanks!
posted by Daddy-O to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Every few weeks I stand in my local bookstore in front of a shelf sagging with Dudley Pope's Ramage novels and I wonder if I should start reading them or if, after O'Brian, they'll disappoint.

I haven't read one yet, but I'm tempted.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:13 PM on September 5, 2010

The "Alexander Kent" (actually Douglas Reeman) novels featuring the career of one "Richard Bolitho" were favorites of mine years ago. Not nearly as well-written as O'Brian or Forester, but suitably swashbuckling genre fiction.

There is also a series by Richard Woodman featuring a character called "Nathaniel Drinkwater". I only read one or two of these, so I can't give much of an opinion on the series as a whole.
posted by briank at 8:14 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm reading Aubrey-Maturin and the Temeraire fantasy books by Naomi Novik. It's amusing me to see Novik mention battles I know Aubrey was in.

The Temeraire books have less of a naval aspect to it, but the main human character is a navy captain turned aviator and there are sea battles. Maybe you can try some sample chapters.
posted by dragonplayer at 8:36 PM on September 5, 2010

I see BitterOldPunk mentioned it but, I just finished Ramage by Dudley Pope, first of the Lord Ramage series, and enjoyed it. He even mentions Hornblower in passing. I am planning on picking up a few more in the series.

When you get tired of the naval action, I will recommend Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels. (Also the very good TV film versions, with Sean Bean as Sharpe.)

You might also check out C.S. Forester's Death to the French (aka Rifleman Dodd)
posted by fings at 8:48 PM on September 5, 2010

Depending on what you like about these books, my husband suggests the Mr Midshipman Easy books by Francis Marryat. These books were written by someone who was around at the time, so they're written in genuine Dickens-era language, which you may or may not dig. (He calls it "the original Thomas Cochrane fanfic," Cochrane being the crazy fellow on whom Aubrey and Hornblower's exploits were based. So you might enjoy reading up on him, as well, if you haven't already.)

My husband enjoyed the Temeraire books too, by the way.
posted by wintersweet at 8:56 PM on September 5, 2010

This is going to sound weird, but David Weber's "Honor Harrington" books are more or less about Napoleonic naval combat... IIIIN SPAAAAACE. He even gives his universe technology so that interstellar warships have to exchange broadsides. Me, I found the couple I read too bad to be a guilty pleasure, but you might find that they have a certain somethin'.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:05 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I found this choose-your-own adventure game, while not a book, to keep some of my post-Aubrey/Maturin blues at bay. (via this metafilter thread)
posted by coppermoss at 9:08 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I know it's not naval warfare, but the Sharp's Rifles series by Bernard Cornwell is similar and awesome. From the Amazon review:

"Sharpe may come to personify the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars in the same way that Horatio Hornblower does the Royal Navy."
posted by jpeacock at 10:01 PM on September 5, 2010

You might enjoy Julian Stockwin's Kydd series, which starts here. I picked the first one up at my local library after finishing the Aubrey/Maturin books. It was decent, but it didn't suck me into the entire series the way that O'Brian did. YMMV.

While not strictly about the Napoleonic wars, you should also read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, the Newberry-winning biography of the man who gave his name to the standard celestial navigation text of the last 200 years.

Looking at Amazon for the above also turned up this list, which appears to be aimed at the very question you're asking. A nice feature is that the list's compiler has only listed the first book of each series, so it's a list of 14 different jumping-off points.
posted by richyoung at 10:06 PM on September 5, 2010

Seconding the Richard Sharpe series. It's not naval battles normally, but if you want navy you can start by reading "Sharpe's Trafalgar" to get a feel for the books. I'm currently binging on Sharpe for the second time, and they are really fun.
posted by gemmy at 11:58 PM on September 5, 2010

Dewey Lambdin is a American, maritime, historical fiction author writing about the Napoleonic era. His protagonist is Alan Lewrie.
posted by adamvasco at 12:53 AM on September 6, 2010

Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels of that era have been mentioned, so I want to suggest Allan Mallinson's "The Nizam's Daughters", set in India.
"'Captain Hervey of the 6th Light Dragoons and ADC to the Duke of Wellington is back in the saddle...He is as fascinating on horseback as Jack Aubrey is on the quarterdeck.'The Times". (Army, not Navy).
posted by lungtaworld at 4:25 AM on September 6, 2010

Why not give Melville's Billy Budd a try? It's not Napoleonic warfare, but it takes place in the 18th or 19th century on a ship.
posted by cropshy at 5:10 AM on September 6, 2010

I read Ramage and enjoyed it. I've only read the first of the Sharpe books and really disliked it, mostly because the characters seemed one-dimensional.
I find that it gets easier as I age to be entertained by rereading, which I have done with Patrick O'Brian. I'm pretty sure that in a few years I'll be able to make do with a single Sudoku puzzle and an eraser.
posted by Killick at 6:01 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love the suggestions here. My first reaction upon reading the question was like, "Where's my next multi-volume series about involuntary recollection of tiny cakes?"
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:05 AM on September 6, 2010

A couple of people mentioned Novak's Temeraire books, but no one really explained them.

They are sort of O'Brien meets Jane Austen meets... dragons. They reimagine the Napoleonic wars as if there had been an air force as well as a navy -- and the air force is, you guessed it, dragons. The main human character is an up-and-coming naval captain whose career is derailed when he acquires (possession? no. control? no. companionship? maybe..) of a dragon. Joining the "air force" is considered a dodgy thing to do -- a big step down from a naval career -- but he does it anyway, somewhat reluctantly.

Fantasy might not be your thing, but these books do involve a fair amount of military strategizing about actual historical battles. Good fun.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2010

As was mentioned above, for something slightly different you might want to try the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. It is an alternative history series which has been described as "Patrick O'Brian with dragons." Not as fanciful a series as the inclusion of dragons would seem to imply and lots of rich naval battles who's strategies have been augmented by the presence of the Aerial Corps.
posted by WaywardSean at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2010

Sadly, Patrick O'Brian is like The Wire; you should read him towards the end of your life, because otherwise, you'll spend the rest of your life feeling like nothing else quite meets the standard. That said, Bernard Cornwell and Alexander Kent are the best of what's left, though not nearly as good as O'Brian or Forester.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 5:42 PM on September 6, 2010

Thanks all! I appreciate your suggestions.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:24 AM on September 7, 2010

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