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Caesar & Hussein: Two Classic Novels from the Author of MASTER AND COMMANDER

By Patrick O’Brian

In Caesar and Hussein, Patrick O’Brian’s two debut novels appear in one volume for the first time, providing a revealing insight into the literary genius behind the Master and Commander series he began nearly 40 years later.

Caesar was Patrick O’Brian’s first novel, written when he was just fourteen, and is the enchanting, bloodthirsty story of a unique Panda Leopard – whose father was a giant panda, his mother a snow leopard. With the dry wit and unsentimental precision that O’Brian would come to be loved for, we see the tragedies of Caesar’s childhood, his capture and taming, and finally his rise to fatherhood under the iron rule of human masters. The book was feted on publication and O’Brian described as the ‘boy-Thoreau’.

Hussein was O’Brian’s second novel, a glittering adventure about a young mahout – or elephant handler – and his life among the elephants. An exotic story of love, murder, vengeance, snake-charming, sword-fighting, spying, stealing and triumph set against the evocative bazaars and temples of India at the height of the British Raj, Hussein was compared favourably by the New York Times to Kipling’s Kim, calling it ‘a gorgeous entertainment’.

Patrick O’Brian later wrote of Hussein: ‘In the writing of the book I learnt the rudiments of my calling: but more than that, it opened a well of joy that has not yet run dry.’

Caesar was first published in October 1930 and Hussein in April 1938 (interspersed by his enchanting book of short stories Beasts Royal in 1934). They were reprinted for the first time in April 1999 by the British Library, shortly before Patrick’s untimely death, and this new paperback edition brings these two enchanting novels together in one volume for the first time.

Format: Other Format
Release Date: 12 Dec 2019
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-0-00-833737-7
Price: £12.99 (Export Price) , £12.99, €None
Patrick O’Brian was born in 1914 and published his first book, Caesar, when he was only fifteen. In the 1960s he began work on the idea that, over the next four decades, evolved into the twenty-novel long Aubrey–Maturin series (with an extra unfinished volume published posthumously). In 1995 he was awarded the CBE, and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.

‘Both books are full of the fantasy that has made O’Brian’s seafaring yarns such a success. Like them, they are full of engaging adventures, curious lore, fond descriptions of food and scenes of battle… Caesar makes delightful, often hilarious reading… Hussein is more sophisticated. Here fully thirty years before Master and Commander was published is the unmistakable texture of O’Brian’s historical fiction. Hussein has it all: the immersion in another world, full of local colour, the delight in a specialised vocabulary, the relish of male camaraderie, travel, treasure and fighting.’David Sexton, Evening Standard -

‘We can see here a true storyteller in the making.’Juliet Townsend, Literary Review -

‘Sustained and well-written … highlights the foundations of O'Brian's mastery of writing, his value far beyond that of a historical novelist.’Martin Booth, Daily Telegraph -

‘O'Brian admirers can now appreciate another dimension to his writing’Alex O’Connell, The Times -

‘A gorgeous entertainment.’The New York Times -

‘Nothing will bring the creatures and myths of childhood back faster than an imaginary journey with O’Brian as guide.’Los Angeles Times Book Review -