Patrick O’Brian’s HMS Surprise rides again thanks to Appledore author

PUBLISHED: 16:31 02 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:18 03 December 2017

Appledore author Alan Lawrence and his new book The Fireships of Gerontas - the continuing voyages of HMS Surprise

Appledore author Alan Lawrence and his new book The Fireships of Gerontas - the continuing voyages of HMS Surprise


Meet Appledore author Alan Lawrence in Barnstaple on Friday, December 8 as he talks about his recreation of the world of Patrick O’Brian and Master and Commander

One of four in a new series of HMS Surprise books by Appledore author Alan Lawrence. One of four in a new series of HMS Surprise books by Appledore author Alan Lawrence.

An Appledore author has strived to recreate the seafaring wonders of historical novelist Patrick O’Brian of Master and Commander fame.

Alan Lawrence so missed the tales of derring-do from the pen of the Master and Commander author about the gallant HMS Surprise, that he decided to start a new series and continue the ship’s adventures set in the 1800s.

Millions of people have enjoyed O’Brian’s sea-faring novels about the ship and the inseparable captain Jack Aubrey and Doctor Stephen Maturin and there was even a major Hollywood film starring Russell Crowe.

But after the author’s death in 2000, Alan was not alone in wishing there were more tales.

He said: “I fondly imagined for years that the many fans of Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring tales sorely lamented, as did I, the end of his wonderful, utterly exceptional stories.

“With no prospect, sadly, of any further historical novels from O’Brian and missing his wonderful characters so much myself, I decided I would write a sequel so as to bring them back, to enjoy their company all over again.”

There are a few necessary changes to O’Brian’s world in the four-book The continuing voyages of HMS Surprise series, as Alan explained: “After writing the first draft and by then in a dialogue with his estate, I was made aware of Patrick O’Brian’s wish that no sequel to his series should be published.

“Hence a changed course was subsequently plotted, the finished result being books with different characters, though ones which still draw inspiration of form and flavour from his genius.

“All are generously bestowed with a well-distributed sprinkling of many of those familiar traits reminiscent of our old friends Aubrey and Maturin.

“I do hope that they bring similar satisfaction to many other Patrick O’Brian fans.”

Alan will be holding a signing of the first four books in his new series plus an informal talk at Barnstaple’s White Moose gallery in Trinity Street this Friday (December 8) from 6.30pm.

Booking is essential as numbers at the gallery are limited – please email or call 01271 379872.

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