From the moment that Master and Commander , the first of Patrick O'Brian's sequence of 20 novels about the 19th century British Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and his surgeon colleague Stephen Maturin, was published in 1970, critics hailed his work as a masterpiece of historical recreation. Called "the best historical novels ever written" by the New York Times , the books have sold millions of copies. This first full-color illustrated companion to the Aubrey-Maturin series, timed to coincide with the release of the blockbuster Twentieth-Century Fox film adaptation starring Russell Crowe, explains the fascinating physical details of Jack Aubrey's fictional world. An in-depth historical reference, it brings to life the political, cultural, and physical setting of O'Brian's novels. Annotated drawings, paintings, and diagrams reveal the complex parts of a ship and its rigging, weaponry, crew quarters and duties, below-deck conditions, and fighting tactics, while maps illustrate the location featured in each novel.