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The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: Master and Commander (Book 1), Chapters 1-3 (pg. 1-114)

Your daily dose of off-topic shenanigans

Thomas Cochrane
Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, the inspiration for Jack Aubrey
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images


We meet our heroes almost from the first word, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, at a concert of some “Baroque music” on the island of Minorca, and as any great friendship, it begins with the urge to beat up the other person. But the former decides against doing so with a tiny white chair after the latter makes a comment about his overly enthusiastic music enjoyment, and instead they get to talking. Aubrey’s a boisterous, outgoing, emotional, large and loud man, mostly ignorant to the world outside the Royal Navy. Maturin’s pretty much the opposite in every respect. Opposites do attract! (And because I’ve seen the movie, one’s Russell Crowe, the other is Paul Bettany.) One’s a naval officer without a ship, the other a doctor without a patient (he had one, but they died you see).

And then that changes quickly, with Aubrey getting an assignment from the admiralty and a promotion from Lieutenant to “Master and Commander” (thus the title), and a (relatively) little ship (sloop-o’-war) called the HMS Sophie, with relatively little manpower to crew it and few resources to outfit it. But our man goes about securing things that need to be secured, including a cunning little move to get some new sails — though he finds out in the next chapter that the ship cannot handle 12-pound cannons, much to his chagrin.

And after holding some clear the air talks with Maturin, he invites the good doctor to grow some sealegs and join him as the ship’s surgeon. Seeing as how he’s got nothing to do, Maturin accepts, and thus we’re off on our first assignment, an escort run. Those were always the worst Starcraft missions.


As Jack and Steve-o begin their friendship by talking about the wonders of languages, and we meet First Lieutenant James Dillon, who as it turns out, shares some secret history with Maturin, seeing as how they’re both Irish Radicals. Well, were Irish Radicals. Now they’re just trying to hide that fact.

The rest of the chapter details the aforementioned outfitting of the ship, as well as a testdrive (testsail?), which doesn’t really go all that well, but Aubrey’s pleased well enough since he’s got his own command now, even if his quarters are awful lonely this way. Get this man a Nintendo Switch and some Wi-Fi, stat!


The escort mission is under way, bound across the Sea of Sardinia in the Mediterranean for Cagliari, but with the merchant vessels taking their sweet, careful time.

To fill the dead air, this chapter goes into great detail of the workings of the ship, from how watches are set to how the men sleep in such cramped quarters in hammocks, and just what all the myriad of sails and ropes and masts and stays are called. Maturin, who knows these things about as well as the dear reader serves as our proxy, though he gets lost in his own thoughts in the meantime, and who can blame him. Should’ve just read the Wiki, Stephen!

Aubrey, Maturin, and Dillon have a nice meal together as well — well, the port is passable, but the ham and the wine less so — and Maturin and Dillon definitely don’t talk about their shared history.





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