The Reverse of the Medal

Written by: Patrick O'Brian

The Reverse of the Medal Book Cover
Captain Jack Aubrey, R. N., ashore after a successful cruise, is persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make certain investments in the City. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government espionage—the province of his friend Stephen Maturin. Is Aubrey's humiliation and the threatened ruin of his career a deliberate plot? This dark Captain Jack Aubrey, R. N., ashore after a successful cruise, is persuaded by a casual acquaintance to make certain investments in the City. This innocent decision ensnares him in the London criminal underground and in government espionage—the province of his friend Stephen Maturin. Is Aubrey's humiliation and the threatened ruin of his career a deliberate plot? This dark tale is a fitting backdrop to the brilliant characterization and sparkling dialogue which O'Brian's readers have come to expect.
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The Reverse of the Medal Reviews

Corto
Simply astonishing. One should really consider these 20 novels as separate chapters of a single book.
Phil
At the risk of redundancy, the series is my absolute fave and even better the second time through.
Carson McCord
I liked this book and would recommend it. I give it a four out of five stars.

The book was about Captain Jack Aubrey coming home with his ship, the HMS Surprise. On land, a man tells him that peace is coming in The War of 1812. The man advises Jack to invest heavily in the stock market. Jack then proceeds to tell all of his friends and family to invest too. Captain Aubrey is then arrested for manipulating the market. He goes to trial and loses. As a result he has to be publicly humiliated and lo I liked this book and would recommend it. I give it a four out of five stars.

The book was about Captain Jack Aubrey coming home with his ship, the HMS Surprise. On land, a man tells him that peace is coming in The War of 1812. The man advises Jack to invest heavily in the stock market. Jack then proceeds to tell all of his friends and family to invest too. Captain Aubrey is then arrested for manipulating the market. He goes to trial and loses. As a result he has to be publicly humiliated and loses his position in the Navy.

Now for what I liked about the book. I liked its witty humor dispersed out. "You were always grossly obese," observed Stephen. The quote occurred in a serious moment which added to its effect.

I also liked it for the many subplots. My favorite was about Stephen being left by Diana. "Diana had not waited for any explanation before leaving." The author uses this to develop Stephen's character.

Now for what I didn’t like. I felt that many of the characters introduced left the plot too soon. I would have liked for them to stay longer and to learn more about them. I also think the first 50 pages moved too slow.

In conclusion, you should read The Reverse of the Medal because the good far outweighs the bad
To Reign in Hell :: Yendi :: Issola :: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology :: The Unknown Shore
Alexander McAuliffe
As always O'Brian uses real but obscure events from the history of the Napoleonic period to set our heroes within. On this occasion it is a stock market fraud turned political show trial that our heroes are thrown into. Set primarily on land, this novel demonstrates O'Brian's knowledge of his chosen period as clearly as any of the sailing novels. Full of references to previous events in the series, some of which are seen now as foreshadowing, this novel moves the character arcs of Stephen Maturi As always O'Brian uses real but obscure events from the history of the Napoleonic period to set our heroes within. On this occasion it is a stock market fraud turned political show trial that our heroes are thrown into. Set primarily on land, this novel demonstrates O'Brian's knowledge of his chosen period as clearly as any of the sailing novels. Full of references to previous events in the series, some of which are seen now as foreshadowing, this novel moves the character arcs of Stephen Maturin and Jack Aubrey forward in a way that few of the episodic novels in this series have. I am excited to read the next book.
Jason Avant
After a prolonged "shore leave", I dove back into the Aubrey-Maturin series. This is an unusual entry in the series, as there's very little nautical action. Jack Aubrey is a great captain, but not much of a landsman, and certainly not good with his money. He finds himself the target of an investment scam, with game-changing consequences. Meanwhile, Stephen Maturin must figure out who has infiltrated the British naval intelligence service. Suspenseful, moving and drolly funny, this is another ste After a prolonged "shore leave", I dove back into the Aubrey-Maturin series. This is an unusual entry in the series, as there's very little nautical action. Jack Aubrey is a great captain, but not much of a landsman, and certainly not good with his money. He finds himself the target of an investment scam, with game-changing consequences. Meanwhile, Stephen Maturin must figure out who has infiltrated the British naval intelligence service. Suspenseful, moving and drolly funny, this is another stellar entry in one of the best historical fiction series ever written.
Grond
After the slow burn of background events in the last few books in 'The Reverse of the Medal' all that stuff comes roaring to the front. I was quite impressed with how much I was drawn into the narrative in the earlier portion of the book when a significant amount of 'nothing' actually happens. It is, once again, a testament to how good a writer O'Brian was. Saying very little about the book is necessary to avoid spoilers and so I can only give the tale a hearty thumbs up with a conclusion that f After the slow burn of background events in the last few books in 'The Reverse of the Medal' all that stuff comes roaring to the front. I was quite impressed with how much I was drawn into the narrative in the earlier portion of the book when a significant amount of 'nothing' actually happens. It is, once again, a testament to how good a writer O'Brian was. Saying very little about the book is necessary to avoid spoilers and so I can only give the tale a hearty thumbs up with a conclusion that feels emminently earned (cliffhangerish though it may be). A truly good read.
Luana
This book took a little while to get into the swing of things, largely because of the necessity (in the 11th book of some 20 or so) to explain the actions and relationships that have preceded the events of the book. But, once it gets going, it's back to O'Brian at his best - particularly enjoyable was our glimpse into the world of questionable English "justice" through the eyes of Dr Maturin.
Shuli
loved how Aubrey's sincere trust and believe in his country, it sprang from his love and devotion. heartbroken for him as he lost his innocence for the injustice he had to suffer.

the whole book has so many twists and turns with the under current of sadness because you know from the title that the ultimate fall will happen.
Will
Not much I can add to other reviewers. A spectacular addition to this series, better than the last two or three in all respects. That is not to denigrate them, all of which are fine works in their own right, but this is a really great book, with some fantastic descriptive writing.
Tim Collins
O'Brian has managed to perfectly combine seagoing warfare and spying into a brilliantly written story. You find yourself cheering with Stephen or being outraged with Jack; empathizing with the characters in a way that just hasn't come out in the preceding books.
Rachael
This was a really quick read for me. A pleasant little book that provides a seamless bridge for the events of the previous several two books with the next several, and does much to advance the plot of the Aubrey/Maturin saga.
David Hambling

Wonderful as always, but much of the book is taken up with recapitulation of the first ten books, the plot moves painfully slowly and is taken up largely with a court case unrelated to naval matters. The writing is great characters are terrific as always, but...
J
Is there an O'Brian book I don't like? Nope. I love these characters to an almost unhealthy degree.
Anne Sims
As always great story, which keeps you wanting to keep reading and now finished want to read next book.
Gerald Heath
Wow! This one was exceptionally good! However, since it is a 20 book series, and this was number 11, it probably will only be appreciated by those who have loved the previous books!
James Reagan
Another reliably engrossing novel from this master.
Vivek
Crackling with action like the 10 preceding books in the series, but this one is mostly set on land.
Joel
I am totally sucked in to the series. And so will just keep going...
Remi Monophaz
Excellent! Capital! The previous book was a little boring, this one is quite the opposite.
Rob
Well, one passage made me a bit teary-eyed...
Shawn
reread again 7 days later. just as good 2d time.
Brett
This book has to be the pinnacle of the Aubrey-Maturin stories. All previous volumes lead to this story, which reaches a powerful climax--a climax I would dare say is the most powerful piece of literature I've ever read.

(view spoiler)[
The is scene, painted in such vivid detail that one finds themselves transported to the place and time, and with characters that have become so real to us over the course of the preceding ten books. Jack Aubrey outmaneuvered by a French double-agent, highly placed This book has to be the pinnacle of the Aubrey-Maturin stories. All previous volumes lead to this story, which reaches a powerful climax--a climax I would dare say is the most powerful piece of literature I've ever read.

(view spoiler)[
The is scene, painted in such vivid detail that one finds themselves transported to the place and time, and with characters that have become so real to us over the course of the preceding ten books. Jack Aubrey outmaneuvered by a French double-agent, highly placed in the Ministry and harboring a grudge, finds himself convicted for a crime he didn't commit let lone understand and sentenced to the pillory and inevitable ejection from the Service that is very nearly an inseparable part of him.

At the same time, Sir Joseph Blaine has been outmaneuvered by the same unscrupulous man. This effectively cuts Maturin out of service in Naval Intelligence which is very nearly an inseparable part of him. At the same time the Doctor discovers that Diana Villiers has left him, outraged by the rumors of Stephen's alledged affair with Laura Fielding, with whom he was associating, platonically, in the course of his intelligence work. His letter explaining this association had been miscarried by our same French double-agent.

It's Noon in London. Jack Aubrey is being fastened into the pillory. Without his knowledge, friends and admirers--seamen--have filled the square, clearing away hecklers who would throw stones, muck, and other filth at the Captain's face while locked in the stocks. Here we see a stark comparison of the pale, meager, landsmen as cowards with the powerful, healthy, loyal seamen as heroes.

As Aubrey's punishment begins, his friends remove their hats in respect, and raise a cheer for their Captain. And thus they cheer him through his ordeal.
(hide spoiler)]

My summary is so very pale a reflection of the literature itself. It must be read in O'Brian's words to truly feel the impact.
Richard
Captain Aubrey reunites with members of his family, with mixed results in this installment of O'Brian's saga. Traveling to the West Indies in command of his favorite frigate, "Surprise", he meets the adult Sam Panda, the son born to Aubrey's youthful dalliance, as a young officer in training, with Sam's mother, island-girl stow-away Sally, in the "H.M.S. Resolution's" cable tiers. Sam is now studying to be a Catholic Priest in Bridgetown in Barbados. After returning to England, Jack hears about Captain Aubrey reunites with members of his family, with mixed results in this installment of O'Brian's saga. Traveling to the West Indies in command of his favorite frigate, "Surprise", he meets the adult Sam Panda, the son born to Aubrey's youthful dalliance, as a young officer in training, with Sam's mother, island-girl stow-away Sally, in the "H.M.S. Resolution's" cable tiers. Sam is now studying to be a Catholic Priest in Bridgetown in Barbados. After returning to England, Jack hears about a promising stock speculation that will make insiders rich when England declares peace with France. Jack's finance complications become more so when he involves none other than his father, the prickly Radical MP General Aubrey and his stock friends in the scheme.

Anything that can go wrong, often does when Jack and money are concerned, and his luck doesn't change. We get to see how debtors are treated in the early nineteenth century, especially those accused of fraudulent practices, in the form of confinement in the Marshalsea prison.

Stephen Maturin, Jack's special friend, meantime, is suffering marital problems due to rumors surrounding his need to engage in a phony flirtation with a female agent in an earlier episode. This is the episode in which he inherits a fortune from his Spanish godfather, and uses his newfound wealth to purchase the "Surprise", which has been stricken from the Royal Navy fleet. Also stricken, unfortunately, from the coveted Navy List of officers is Jack Aubrey, resulting from his legal troubles. Stephen can give Jack useful employment as a civilian captain of a ship under the Admiralty Court's letter of marque and reprisal, but can he save his marriage, or indeed save himself after falling back into heavy daily use of laudanum? There's much for Jack and Stephen to overcome as they sail into the next book's adventures.

Tim
Couldn't put this down. Read in less than a day. Patrick O'Brien at his best.
Andrew Conlon
I am nearly done reading this brilliant series of books, and to be honest the only thing slowing me down is the delay in obtaining the next titles in the series. O'Brian writes with great technical skill, attention to detail, and sense of adventure, but his humanity and eloquence really shine through with protagonists Maturin and Aubrey. I choose to review this title and no others because it is the only narrative to take place nearly entirely on terra firma- there are no great sea voyages in thi I am nearly done reading this brilliant series of books, and to be honest the only thing slowing me down is the delay in obtaining the next titles in the series. O'Brian writes with great technical skill, attention to detail, and sense of adventure, but his humanity and eloquence really shine through with protagonists Maturin and Aubrey. I choose to review this title and no others because it is the only narrative to take place nearly entirely on terra firma- there are no great sea voyages in this book. In spite of this, O'Brian delivers what I find to be the master work of the series. Without spoiling the plot too much, I took particular satisfaction in the loyalty and friendship between the two protagonists and the depiction of a good man (Aubrey) enduring trials that promised to ruin all he held dear- his career, his prospects of providing for his family, and his love of the open ocean, despite occasional squalls. This particular entry created a deep connection between myself and the characters, so subtly it was almost beneath my consciousness until I found myself immeasurably touched by the lengths to which Maturin and Aubrey's fellow shipmates and friends go in an attempt to preserve the captain's home, reputation, health, and his beloved HMS Surprise from certain and utter loss. This book contains countless examples of true friendship; one of the greatest aspirations and achievements of mankind.
Julia
This is the 11th installment in the Napoleonic-era British naval adventures of Jack Aubrey and his doctor/spy friend Stephen Maturin, and it certainly lives up to everything that has come before it. The book starts almost immediately where The Far Side of the World left off, with the Surprise very far off from home, having gone around the Cape into the Pacific. After a bit of rousing seagoing adventure as the crew heads home, the remainder of the book takes place back on land in England. The con This is the 11th installment in the Napoleonic-era British naval adventures of Jack Aubrey and his doctor/spy friend Stephen Maturin, and it certainly lives up to everything that has come before it. The book starts almost immediately where The Far Side of the World left off, with the Surprise very far off from home, having gone around the Cape into the Pacific. After a bit of rousing seagoing adventure as the crew heads home, the remainder of the book takes place back on land in England. The constant financial/legal troubles that have plagued Jack whenever he is on shore come to a disastrous climax with terrible consequences, and Stephen deals with heartbreak in his personal life and is obstructed in his work as a spy. Basically, things are going AWRY; it is an engrossing, erudite read but not a cheerful one. For whatever reason, I just flew through this book (in a matter of 3 days, I think) and like its predecessors, this one ended with a superdramatic cliffhanger doozy of a final paragraph or two, so I am off to get the next one from the library ASAP.
Chris Conrady
I've read this a few times before, and never really loved it. It opens with a wonderfully detailed chase but, from then on, deals mostly with political struggles and loads of dialog about legal issues. Not really any of the "scuppers running red" of some of the more action packed books. It wasn't until this recent reading, however, that I came to truly appreciate this unique aspect of the Age of Sail story and the ramp up into a new venture for the crew. There actually is a lot going on, it's ju I've read this a few times before, and never really loved it. It opens with a wonderfully detailed chase but, from then on, deals mostly with political struggles and loads of dialog about legal issues. Not really any of the "scuppers running red" of some of the more action packed books. It wasn't until this recent reading, however, that I came to truly appreciate this unique aspect of the Age of Sail story and the ramp up into a new venture for the crew. There actually is a lot going on, it's just different - and, this time, instead of Captain Aubrey being in command, it's really Dr. Maturin who steps up and readys for action.

Perhaps it's because of the craziness in the recent presidential elections in the US, but I found the political events in and around the Admiralty quite intriguing! Things are getting shaken up and are not as plain as they seem - which makes for a very interesting read. I've gone from rating this 3-stars to 5-starts, so that's saying something! It really presents a unique turn of events and provides an nice contrast between the Admiral's court at sea and the legal system on shore.
Stan
Excellent book in an outstanding series. Here we get another taste of the intrigue of Maturin's intelligence work, leading to the outing of certain double agents; and a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the legal system of the time, as Aubrey gets targeted in a con game trap. But my favorite parts of these books are the seagoing parts, where O'Brian has an almost magical way with words. I continually marvel at how he can engage the reader to such a degree that one can feel the unrelenting Excellent book in an outstanding series. Here we get another taste of the intrigue of Maturin's intelligence work, leading to the outing of certain double agents; and a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the legal system of the time, as Aubrey gets targeted in a con game trap. But my favorite parts of these books are the seagoing parts, where O'Brian has an almost magical way with words. I continually marvel at how he can engage the reader to such a degree that one can feel the unrelenting tension of a protracted high-speed sea chase, or feel the sea spray on one's face as the ship turns into the wind and picks up speed. An example of the writing, describing Aubrey enjoying an off-ship swim:
"There he would float with an infinity of pure sea on either hand and the whole hemisphere of sky above, already full of light; and then the sun would heave up on the eastern rim, turning the sails a brilliant white in quick succession, changing the sea to still another nameless blue, and filling his heart with joy."
Josh
Brilliant and gripping. I couldn't put it down.
Stephen Griffith
From the first page of Master and Commander, this series has been about the extremely unlikely friendship between Aubrey and Maturin. Usually it takes place on the high seas which is Jack's place of expertise but he has typically lurched into problems on dry land, which is where most of the action in this occurs, and he gets into a severe jam which the reader of this series sees coming as it unfolds. It is up to Stephen to marshal the resources to help his friend while dealing with the dissoluti From the first page of Master and Commander, this series has been about the extremely unlikely friendship between Aubrey and Maturin. Usually it takes place on the high seas which is Jack's place of expertise but he has typically lurched into problems on dry land, which is where most of the action in this occurs, and he gets into a severe jam which the reader of this series sees coming as it unfolds. It is up to Stephen to marshal the resources to help his friend while dealing with the dissolution of his marriage, another superbly portrayed relationship. He makes his share of mistakes in doing so but things sort themselves out in the end.

One of the bases of Aubrey and Maturin's relationship is a shared passion for music. While I was reading this I was listening to a long piece which reached a crescendo as the next to last chapter ended with an extremely emotional reversal of fortunes. It's nice when two artistic forms dovetail by sheer chance.
Kaye Stambaugh
Espionage, dirty tricks and differing perspectives of the main characters are key highlights of this book. This excellent series in The Reverse of the Medal turns away from seafaring battle with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin battling (and suffering from) political espionage. The scene at the pillory brought tears to my eyes. While we have some insight as to the English 'turncoat', the how and who else suspense is excellent.

A new character is introduced, a young black man who looks suspiciousl Espionage, dirty tricks and differing perspectives of the main characters are key highlights of this book. This excellent series in The Reverse of the Medal turns away from seafaring battle with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin battling (and suffering from) political espionage. The scene at the pillory brought tears to my eyes. While we have some insight as to the English 'turncoat', the how and who else suspense is excellent.

A new character is introduced, a young black man who looks suspiciously like Jack. Both Jack's and Sophie's responses to this young man are touching. A terrific ending for the HMS Surprise's naval duty is befitting.

We don't see justice done by the end of the novel so I immediately started the next book in the series. I'm bordering on groupie status for Patrick O'Brien!
Kathryn
Reverse of the Medal is one of the real gems of the Aubrey-Maturin series thus far. It's short but very rich in character development, with an unusual structure: Jack's situation (he goes to trial on trumped-up charges of stock fraud) provides the plot, but Stephen is the main character. This volume is especially appealing in its treatment of Jack and Stephen's friendship--after all that Jack has done for Stephen, we get to see Stephen pour himself out on behalf of his friend as he tries to salv Reverse of the Medal is one of the real gems of the Aubrey-Maturin series thus far. It's short but very rich in character development, with an unusual structure: Jack's situation (he goes to trial on trumped-up charges of stock fraud) provides the plot, but Stephen is the main character. This volume is especially appealing in its treatment of Jack and Stephen's friendship--after all that Jack has done for Stephen, we get to see Stephen pour himself out on behalf of his friend as he tries to salvage Jack's reputation, mental health, and naval career. There are plenty of extra goodies, too. My favorites: Sophie shows her true colors (she's a real brick, as Brits would say), Ashgrove Cottage gets a Navy-style makeover, sailors come to Jack's aid in the pillory, and French agent Duhamel reappears for a bombshell ending.
Serge Boivin
Another great installment in the series, but it somehow left me a bit wanting, and not just because of the abrupt ending. I fully understand, and enjoy, that this whole series is really one super long novel, and the next one often flows right from where the previous one ended. However, this one particularly felt like an in-between novel. The change of setting and focus was very refreshing and allowed us to catch our breath The characters are still as great as usual, and the events and details st Another great installment in the series, but it somehow left me a bit wanting, and not just because of the abrupt ending. I fully understand, and enjoy, that this whole series is really one super long novel, and the next one often flows right from where the previous one ended. However, this one particularly felt like an in-between novel. The change of setting and focus was very refreshing and allowed us to catch our breath The characters are still as great as usual, and the events and details still as interesting, but it felt like the turning point into a new direction, instead of the actual start of new adventures. Still, the events promise new and exciting adventures in the following novels, and I am looking forward to them.
Craig a.k.a Meatstack
So, if you have been reading this from the beginning, I don't think it's possible not to get emotional at Jack Aubrey getting drummed out of the service. And the heartache and depression portrayed by the author will move you to tears.

The moments are only driven home by the outpouring of respect and devotion shown by his crew and colleagues at the Pillary. These scenes, above all else, turned this book from a typical good Aubrey/Maturin book into an outstanding one.

For the readers who are not as So, if you have been reading this from the beginning, I don't think it's possible not to get emotional at Jack Aubrey getting drummed out of the service. And the heartache and depression portrayed by the author will move you to tears.

The moments are only driven home by the outpouring of respect and devotion shown by his crew and colleagues at the Pillary. These scenes, above all else, turned this book from a typical good Aubrey/Maturin book into an outstanding one.

For the readers who are not as versed in the workings of a ship, this one might be for you. The Majority of it happens on or around the land, with very little time afloat for the crew.

What an outstanding episode in the series, and I find myself longing to read the next.
Kellen Mcgee
This book seemed to serve as a reset button for O'Brian. He confesses in the introduction that he is running out of historical material to draw from, and hence from here on out the stories would be more purely fictional versus inspired by true accounts. Aubrey and Maturin's successes have been compounding thus far in the series, and in this book both characters are taken down several pegs - presumably so they can start overcoming obstacles from the bottom all over again.

Though this may be the p This book seemed to serve as a reset button for O'Brian. He confesses in the introduction that he is running out of historical material to draw from, and hence from here on out the stories would be more purely fictional versus inspired by true accounts. Aubrey and Maturin's successes have been compounding thus far in the series, and in this book both characters are taken down several pegs - presumably so they can start overcoming obstacles from the bottom all over again.

Though this may be the purpose of this novel, it is not a mere transition state. O'Brian's writing seems to be getting better with each installment, and this book provides several incredibly well-spun scenes. The account of Jack's sentence to the pillory may be the highlight of the series for me so far.
John
Each book in this series of 20 books is really just a long chapter in a work of historical fiction that reached 8,000+ pages prior to O'Brien's death. Some people start the first book, but never finish it. Others are swept into the culture and action of the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (1790's to ~ 1818), as was I, and push forward their reading of the enitre 20 volumes, with other good books having to wait at the bedside table for their turn. Some of the volumes are 5-star, some 3-star Each book in this series of 20 books is really just a long chapter in a work of historical fiction that reached 8,000+ pages prior to O'Brien's death. Some people start the first book, but never finish it. Others are swept into the culture and action of the Royal Navy at the turn of the century (1790's to ~ 1818), as was I, and push forward their reading of the enitre 20 volumes, with other good books having to wait at the bedside table for their turn. Some of the volumes are 5-star, some 3-star, thus an overall 4-star rating for the entire series. R; I don't know whether to thank or curse you for giving me the first book!
Mike Schneider
I've been reading the "Master and Commander" series by Patrick O'Brian over a number of years now. Each time I come back to the series, I wonder why I waited so long to pick it up again, losing myself once more in the language of 19th century England and its nautical officers. This book easily met the high standards set by the first ten and added a few new twists to the ongoing tale of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. I enjoyed this one a lot and the cliffhanger ending means it won't be long unt I've been reading the "Master and Commander" series by Patrick O'Brian over a number of years now. Each time I come back to the series, I wonder why I waited so long to pick it up again, losing myself once more in the language of 19th century England and its nautical officers. This book easily met the high standards set by the first ten and added a few new twists to the ongoing tale of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. I enjoyed this one a lot and the cliffhanger ending means it won't be long until I start on the next installment--I can't wait to see what happens to characters that now seem like old friends.
Jonathan
Since the almost 30 year old cassette tape broke in the middle of listening I had to reread this one. Proved to still be a quite enjoyable read. Not as many laughs but the tension was high during the climax. Not sure if a great ending is supposed to leave you wanting more....if so then this was a great ending. Looking back I think this one might be a turning point for future adventures. If nothing else, I LOVE these characters and want to hear more and more about them from Patrick O'Brian. Unfor Since the almost 30 year old cassette tape broke in the middle of listening I had to reread this one. Proved to still be a quite enjoyable read. Not as many laughs but the tension was high during the climax. Not sure if a great ending is supposed to leave you wanting more....if so then this was a great ending. Looking back I think this one might be a turning point for future adventures. If nothing else, I LOVE these characters and want to hear more and more about them from Patrick O'Brian. Unfortunately, this marks the hump/the middle of the book series...and I now begin my slow descent down...though I know there is plenty more adventure to have.
purplechick
So far I think my two favorites in the Aubrey/Maturin series are this one and Desolation Island. It is amazing that after 11 books O'Brian still has lots of surprises up his sleeve. In The Reverse of the Medal he uses an actual trial which took place at the time and just slightly adapts it to fit his purposes. I love his subtle witty writing and the way he gives you just enough hints and context to help you figure out the jargon and historical points you may not be familiar with. This series is So far I think my two favorites in the Aubrey/Maturin series are this one and Desolation Island. It is amazing that after 11 books O'Brian still has lots of surprises up his sleeve. In The Reverse of the Medal he uses an actual trial which took place at the time and just slightly adapts it to fit his purposes. I love his subtle witty writing and the way he gives you just enough hints and context to help you figure out the jargon and historical points you may not be familiar with. This series is highly recommended to anyone who loves good historical novels even if you think you won't like something about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars.
Alexander
Given how short this was on naval action, I loved it. Much better than Post Captain, which is the other A-M novel I think of as taking place mostly on land. Good to see things very much not going Jack's way for once, which makes him feel less protected by the Protagonist Shield. The moment when Jack is pilloried was a real heartwarmer. Stephen's subplot with Diana was also surprisingly effective, especially its culmination in the Blue Peter. The closing reveal about Wray was a great note to fini Given how short this was on naval action, I loved it. Much better than Post Captain, which is the other A-M novel I think of as taking place mostly on land. Good to see things very much not going Jack's way for once, which makes him feel less protected by the Protagonist Shield. The moment when Jack is pilloried was a real heartwarmer. Stephen's subplot with Diana was also surprisingly effective, especially its culmination in the Blue Peter. The closing reveal about Wray was a great note to finish on to set things up for the next book.
James
It may seem odd that one of my favorite Jack Aubrey books is the one where he is set up and falsely convicted of Stock Exchange Fraud, Pilloried, and removed from the Captain's list. In response, I would mention two passages.
1. The passage where, locked in the pillory stock, JA is surrounded by Naval Seamen who protect and salute him. One of the most moving passages in any of the books.
2. The passage where Maturin finally learns that Wray is the traitor.
This is arguably my favorite Aubrey/Matur It may seem odd that one of my favorite Jack Aubrey books is the one where he is set up and falsely convicted of Stock Exchange Fraud, Pilloried, and removed from the Captain's list. In response, I would mention two passages.
1. The passage where, locked in the pillory stock, JA is surrounded by Naval Seamen who protect and salute him. One of the most moving passages in any of the books.
2. The passage where Maturin finally learns that Wray is the traitor.
This is arguably my favorite Aubrey/Maturin book.
Michael
Another great read by O'Brian. The more of these you read, the more the characters take on in depth and complexity that is purely palpable. This novel sees the unwitting deception and failure played upon Capt Aubrey and it is so far from previous novels of his heroics that it makes him all the more real. It ends abruptly sizzling with newly discovered intelligence as to the identity of those betrayers of the British cause that I am ready to put aside other want-to-reads on the shelf and go strai Another great read by O'Brian. The more of these you read, the more the characters take on in depth and complexity that is purely palpable. This novel sees the unwitting deception and failure played upon Capt Aubrey and it is so far from previous novels of his heroics that it makes him all the more real. It ends abruptly sizzling with newly discovered intelligence as to the identity of those betrayers of the British cause that I am ready to put aside other want-to-reads on the shelf and go straight to the next in the series.
Judy
We listen to Patrick O'Brian sea novels on road trips, and find them entirely engrossing. I'm not sure I could actually read them, but the two readers we've heard are excellent, and on the road I can easily be swept up by the rhythm of the sea jargon as I become immersed in a world I know nothing about. This volume was a bit less satisfying than many, since most of the action is on land. Jack Aubrey, the heroic captain of the series, is preyed upon because of his innocence and ignorance of finan We listen to Patrick O'Brian sea novels on road trips, and find them entirely engrossing. I'm not sure I could actually read them, but the two readers we've heard are excellent, and on the road I can easily be swept up by the rhythm of the sea jargon as I become immersed in a world I know nothing about. This volume was a bit less satisfying than many, since most of the action is on land. Jack Aubrey, the heroic captain of the series, is preyed upon because of his innocence and ignorance of financial dealings.
Steve Shea
Rollicking, great historical fiction. The Aubrey-Maturin novels are as good as anyone says, and they make for a great listen as well. I especially liked the Blackstone Audio editions. The reader (sorry, forgot his name) is an excellent study in character voices and accents. Highly enjoyable. I do recommend pausing occasionally if you're driving, in case the intensity of nautical imagery, archaic language, and high drama overcome your visual senses.

I never did figure out what the title meant.
Bonnie
I have enjoyed all the previous books in this series and I liked this one a lot. Jack Aubrey does well when he's commanding a ship at sea, but on land things don't go so well. In this book he is again victimized when he speculates with his prize money. His friend Maturin and Sir Joseph Blaine know there is a traitor in the intelligence service, but have no idea who it is.

As in all the books of this series the characters are interesting and believable, definitely not Hollywood handsome, and thin I have enjoyed all the previous books in this series and I liked this one a lot. Jack Aubrey does well when he's commanding a ship at sea, but on land things don't go so well. In this book he is again victimized when he speculates with his prize money. His friend Maturin and Sir Joseph Blaine know there is a traitor in the intelligence service, but have no idea who it is.

As in all the books of this series the characters are interesting and believable, definitely not Hollywood handsome, and things don't always go as planned.
ghostlibrarian
There was not so much about sailing in this volume of the series but it was very good, nonetheless. Of particular note was the information about trials of a political nature and the truly horrible prosecution of such trials. For instance, in this story the judge insisted that the trial go on to the early hours of the morning. The goal was to put the defense at a disadvantage in the jury's eyes and it certainly did that. The ending was quite the cliffhanger but it's just too late to start the nex There was not so much about sailing in this volume of the series but it was very good, nonetheless. Of particular note was the information about trials of a political nature and the truly horrible prosecution of such trials. For instance, in this story the judge insisted that the trial go on to the early hours of the morning. The goal was to put the defense at a disadvantage in the jury's eyes and it certainly did that. The ending was quite the cliffhanger but it's just too late to start the next one tonight.
Mattias Olshausen
This was my favorite of the books since at least The Surgeon's Mate. Stephen is an enthralling character when he's in his element as a physician or a naturalist, but even more so in his element as an intelligence agent, and that role comes to the fore in this installment as he puts his talents and resources to work to save Jack from his own naivete - and from sinister forces in the British intelligence network itself.
Kevin
You should read all 20 of these books as one continuous novel -- I think you would miss out on a lot if you read them out of order.

This book is very Maturin centric, not a lot of Aubrey's heroics, but a lot of his naivete.

I felt the story line was sort of a mishmash of things. All written well, but all sort of inconclusive and not motivating.

Still a good book, just not as good as some of the others.
Cole Schoolland
Though it is a far remove from the blue-water sailing of his other novels, Reverse of the Medal is still a very enjoyable read. Even through the droll proceedings of the English legal system, O'Brian is able to evoke powerful emotion among his wonderfully-woven themes.

I feel that Reverse of the Medal (being 1/2 way into the entire Aubrey-Maturin series) reaches a climax that certainly ushers in another epoch.
Graham
This is a land book. Which means, that Jack is going to have a sore time of it; indeed, what with a trial on jumped up charges, a prosecution and a pillory he is in a poor way. But the main thrust of the book is with Stephen, whose intelligence operations have unexpected twists and turns, jigsaw pieces falling into place, and a rekindling of the fire which drives him. As a standalone book this would make no sense; this is a bridge between the first ten and the subsequent novels.
Graziella
My favorite story in my favorite series. Patrick O'Brien is Jane Austen with testosterone. Though I'm an avowed landlubber, have absolutely no inclination towards hoisting a sail, nor can tell a spinnaker from a jib, these stories are rich in character and adventure. When the world presses in and all seems bleak here, I set sail with Capt Aubrey and Medico Maturin and all is well. Someone once confided to me these stories are literary crack...yep.
Justin Mills
O'Brian has that great author's talent of never giving the reader exactly what they want but giving them what they need to keep coming back to more.

Furthermore, since I listen to this series on audio cassette, CD, or MP3 through Audible while I'm driving, I get the added benefit Patrick Tull's stellar narrative skills.

The Reverse of the Medal is one of the finest installments in this series so far, rivaling my favorites so far (The Mauritius Command and The Far Side of the World).
Matthew
I remember not particualrly enjoying this one the first time through. No idea why. I probably was frustrated by the central role of the English judicial/political system. What a second reading! Now perhaps my favorite of the series. O'Brian at sea can drag at times. On land, he proves a swift sailor. Definitely not for O'Brian beginners - I recommend Desolation Island if you're not starting at go.
Linda Barnett
This novel is more involved with land battles, than naval ones, but it still grabs you and won't let go until you're finished. This is one, of many, that I couldn't put down until the very end, sometime after daylight. Lucky me, I'm retired, so I can afford to sleep in after an Aubrey/Maturin all nighter!

Chaundra
This is I think perhaps the most heart breaking of all the books in the Aubrey/Maturin series, though it leads to some of the most critical character developments. The ending is pretty fab and keeps this from being less depressing than what it promises to be. Still, Jack will never be the same, and neither I suppose will Maturin.
Steph
Another good book in the series. I had a hard time getting into the book at first, but the last half I was able to read rather quickly. Very interesting series of events that take place over land. And once again the ending is left somewhat open-ended so it makes you want to read the next book in the series.
Andy
I'm going to have to write the same review for all if the 'Aubrey' series. Why change what the author has started!

Aubrey is without a vessel. Get's one....just. Sails round the world with his best mate. He fights the Spanish/French. Wins. Goes home. Get's promoted.

That sums all the books up.

Good reads. Very enjoyable, but can be a little repetitive. Just like this review!
Larry
It starts as a nautical tail and ends in espionage. The more I read, the better I liked it.

The politically radical father of Jack Aubrey causes calamity! The book examines the English court system and the impact the “Royals” have on the society of the 1800’s,

The author is able to set the scene so wonderfully. It’s a pleasure to read...and another cliff-hanger!

Tim
I enjoyed reading this book, except it's frustrating to see dear Jack take a fall. The intrigue with Andrew Wray and the spousal tensions with Jack and Stephen certainly make this a compelling read. Hated the cliff-hanger at the end. I didn't have the next in the series, and it took a few days to get it from the library.
Don
ONE OF THE VERY BEST in this exceptional series of novels. Much goes on. We perceive threats of a certain nature but they turn out to be of a different nature for Aubrey. In te end he is booted fro mthe service for a crime of which is innocent; Steven buys the surprise & clearly Aubrey will lead the Surprise in marauding the seas.
John
Another excellent addition to the series, though this one introduces a change to the formula laid out since book 1 (I wont go into details). There's enough dry humour, interesting characters and situations to alleviate what could be a 'boring' historical read. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Mom
The Master and Commander series keeps getting better and better. Usually I read one, then read a couple of other books before reading the next one. This time I went straight to the next, The Letter of Marque.
Kevin
I'm half way through the series now. I will soon get to the end of this wonderful series and i know when i do i will feel miserable for these are a series of brilliantly written, beautifully paced books that have no equal.
Tracy Groot
I adore Patrick O'Brian, but The Reverse of the Medal has turned out to be one of my Aubrey/Maturin faves. O'Brian has an amazing, hard-to-define, minimalist style while still delivering astonishing detail. I have no idea how he does it. (Did it.) But I'm glad he did.
Scott
Basically, when you're a sailor, nothing good ever happens on land. Still, even when someone like Captain Aubrey is experiencing some of the lowest moments of his life, there are unexpected moments of grace and triumph and redemption.
Brackman1066
Patrick O'Brian's conclusions make those of Neal Stephenson seem drawn-out. I don't mind, actually--this is really a novel over several books, often grouped. In this case, it's really a piece with the next book in the series.
Iain
My comfort books, which makes them sound soft and cuddly, which they aren't! The two central characters remain as engaging as ever, and the plots continue to be self-contained enough to work in a single book, while being even more satisfying if the reader is familiar with the series. Great fun.
Bill
Another classic tale from POB. I am now halfway through the series and I look forward to continuing. The details of life on the sea are amazing and you can almost hear the ocean and taste the air with a hint of salt water.
James F.
This book was read for the third time. Its story line was likely better understood in this read when compared to the first two reads concluded many years ago.

This review will NOT be a spoiler for those who have yet to read this novel for the very first time.
Scott
Aubrey is a victim of politics and loses his commission. But after some more of Stephen's spy stuff and thanks to his rich benefactor, things might be looking up.
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