Book review Book Review: "THE FRIGATE SURPRISE" by Brian Lavery & Geoff Hunt

Uwek

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THE FRIGATE SURPRISE;
The Complete Story of the Ship Made Famous in the Novels of Patrick O´Brian
The Design, Construction and Careers of Jack Aubrey's Favourite Command


By Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt


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  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Conway; Limited edition edition (November 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • Package Dimensions: 12.4 x 11.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 pounds
Actual Price at amazon.co.uk appr. 20 to 25 GBP

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Synopsis:

There is no more famous a vessel in naval fiction than HMS Surprise, the principal ship in Patrick O'Brian's much-celebrated Aubrey-Maturin series of sea stories. Yet, this 28-gun frigate also had a most eventful true historical career serving in both the French and then Royal navies and which included capture by the Inconstant in 1796 the much celebrated cutting-out action on the mutinous crew of HMS Hermione. Surprise was decomissioned in 1802 and delivered into the fictional captaincy of Jack Aubrey. This sumptuous new volume, written by acclaimed naval historian Brian Lavery, not only reveals the complete career history and commentary of HMS Surprise in both its guises, but also presents an all-embracing construction and fitting history of the Fifth Rate including some 30 line drawings as well as historical artworks and detailed photographs. The book is presented in full colour throughout and additionally includes a series of specially-commissioned sketches and some 30 paintings by co-author Geoff Hunt RSMA, the acclaimed artist of the Patrick O'Brian cover artworks and related prints. Geoff Hunt also contributes a most illuminating chapter on his experiences in, and challenges faced, when illustrating this ship. The detailed line and isometric plans are being drawn by prolific marine draughtsman Karl Heinz Marquardt.

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Contents:

Introduction by Nikolai Tolstoy
1) L’Unité Joins the Royal Navy (page 8 to 19)
2) The Voyage to Trieste (page 20 to 33)
3) Captain Hamilton (page 34 to 45)
4) A visit on Board (page 46 to 63)
5) The Drawings by Karl Heinz Marquardt (page 64 to 71)
6) The West Indies (page 72 to 83)
7) Taking the Hermione (page 84 to 93)
8) The Last Years (page 94 to 103)
9) Jack Aubrey´s Surprise (page 104 to 115)
10) Constructing a Picture of Surprise by Geoff Hunt (page 116 to 123)
The Aubrey/Maturin Novels cover by cover (page 124 to 135)
Appendices like Crew list Masts, Yards and Stores, Maintenance History, Armaments
Endnotes, Bibliography, original sources, Glossary, Index

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Review:

It is the well known and former Curator of the british National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Brian Lavery, attended to himself the subject of the “fregate HSM Surprise”. And it was the president of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Geoff Hunt, giving him the inspiration for this extraordinary book.

It was not an accident, that the well known marine artist Geoff Hunt had the idea, to make write a book about the relatively unimportant and a little bit bizarre ship from the Nelson´s fleet. The british prise, originally a French frigate L’Unité, which was renamed to HMS Surprise, was the paradigm for the well known novels by Patrick O´Brians HMS Surprise with Captain Jack Aubrey. Geoff Hunt made the the paintings for the covers of the 21 published novels, in which he often showed different details and situations of the fictitious Surprise.
Latest after Peter Weir´s film “Master and Comander”, for which Lavery assisted as naval specialist, the “Surprise” was well known. Based on this the interest for the real historical background and also for the real HMS Surprise was grown. The real Surpise, launched in January 1794 as the French L'Unité, she was captured by the British a couple of years later and renamed Surprise. By 1802, after a short but distinguished career, she was sold out of the service and broken up. This is the story told by this book!

With extensive and thorough research he describes the ship, her adventures and the people who sailed her. These chapters are accompanied by many and varied illustrations, including Hunt's paintings and a set of plans by Karl Heinz Marquardt, and conclude with an outline of her fictional career under Jack Aubrey. In the book's final two chapters Geoff Hunt discusses the complexities of painting these ships, and then takes us through his drawings and details of cover paintings accompanied by brief descriptions. The book concludes with appendices giving detailed chronology, crew list (at October 1799) and more.

Several construction drawings, photos, sketches and paintings, detailed technical data, partly in sheets, partly inside the text are completing the book, which should stand in the shelf (after reading) of every historical and / or maritime interested person, modeler or other friends of books.

A real enjoyable book!

The K.H. Marquardt drawings of the frigate HMS Surprise 1794 in the book
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More Look Inside photos in the following post
 
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THE FRIGATE SURPRISE;
The Complete Story of the Ship Made Famous in the Novels of Patrick O´Brian
The Design, Construction and Careers of Jack Aubrey's Favourite Command

By Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt


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Contents:
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The 'Surprise' used in the film was originally called 'Rose' and is still a sea going museum. Apparently the film company made serious alterations to suit their use, like cutting gun-ports into the hull, which have compromised the structure. She is still an imposing sight, for those lucky to get to see her.
Wish I could find a copy of the book at a reasonable price.
 

Uwek

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Take a look here: The used copies are starting with 33 US$


 
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For 12 Euro you will never find if you search for it. It was luck. I didn´t search for it, it was a coincidence. I have done a lot of goode deals with books on this way. If you can wait, your day will arrive. A problem is, when you need the book for your project. Then you have to pay the price from the market.
 
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