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#1
Old 06-16-2011, 05:00 PM
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Any Aubrey/Maturin experts here? I've a question or two about The Thirteen Gun Salute

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Every time I read through this series (and this is my fifth reading), more little subtle details reveal themselves. This is the mark of a great writer, that he can obliquely but effectively hint at things rather than clobber you over the head with them.

However, O'Brien is a bit too clever for me in The Thirteen Gun Salute, I think. I can't figure out why Stephen is drawing on local banks in Pulo Prabang for huge, secret sums. Unless I missed something, he is never described as putting said sums to use.

Then the traitors Ledward and Wray turn up dead, conveniently providing Stephen and van Buren some dissection specimens. Who killed them and why is never really revealed. Stephen coyly says "Perhaps they were fighting."

Did Stephen use all that cash to bring about the traitors' assassination?
#2
Old 06-16-2011, 06:02 PM
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I think it was implied, but not stated, that Stephen killed Ledward and Wray.

The section on Andrew Wray agrees:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurri...Maturin_series

Didn't Stephen sneak off, armed on the night before their death?

And wasn't the secret money used to counter the French bribes to the Sultan? It has been years since I read this...

Last edited by CaveMike; 06-16-2011 at 06:03 PM.
#3
Old 06-16-2011, 06:11 PM
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I thought it was clearly established that the financial transactions Maturin was conducting through the Chinese banker were all destined to undermine the French embassy and ensure that the English got their treaty with the Sultan of Pulo Prabang.

As to the deaths of Wray and Ledward, I think it's a Lady or the Tiger situation. Stephen had the means, opportunity, and more than enough motive. There's little question that he would have arranged it if he wanted it done. But O'Brian leaves just enough doubt as to the exact circumstances to lend Stephen a bit a plausible deniability. Wray and Ledward were ruined men -- penniless, out of favor, stripped of the immunity that had been guaranteed by their former ambassadorial status -- they probably wouldn't have survived for very long stranded in Malaya anyway.
#4
Old 06-16-2011, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaveMike View Post
I think it was implied, but not stated, that Stephen killed Ledward and Wray.

The section on Andrew Wray agrees:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurri...Maturin_series

Didn't Stephen sneak off, armed on the night before their death?

And wasn't the secret money used to counter the French bribes to the Sultan? It has been years since I read this...
This is my memory as well. I think it is pretty clear Stephen kills Ledward and Wray and uses the cash to frustrate the knavish tricks of the French but unfortunately I can't check as someone has made off with my copy of the book. Ggrr!

Last edited by MarcusF; 06-16-2011 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Can't spell!
#5
Old 06-16-2011, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Kizarvexius View Post
I thought it was clearly established that the financial transactions Maturin was conducting through the Chinese banker were all destined to undermine the French embassy and ensure that the English got their treaty with the Sultan of Pulo Prabang. . . .
That's what I of course assume, but there is never a bribery scene. Stephen withdraws the money, and then goes off to the monks' crater and wildlife sanctuary for a week. When he comes back, all hell has broken loose. If he has paid someone to tell the Sultan's wife that Abdul is bedding Ledward (and possibly Wray), it is never discussed.
#6
Old 06-16-2011, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by teela brown View Post
That's what I of course assume, but there is never a bribery scene. Stephen withdraws the money, and then goes off to the monks' crater and wildlife sanctuary for a week. When he comes back, all hell has broken loose. If he has paid someone to tell the Sultan's wife that Abdul is bedding Ledward (and possibly Wray), it is never discussed.
This is one of the things that I really like about his writing: Important pieces of the plot are skipped over. There might be a build up to a naval battle, but when the ships engage O'Brien moves on. I like this technique because if a scene is going to play out just like the reader expects, there is no need to spell it out. It keeps the story moving.

FWIW, I originally had these same questions as you teela.
#7
Old 06-22-2011, 10:57 PM
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Best evidence Stephen killed wray and ledward

Chapter 9 - page 309 of the 1992 norton paperback edition, while reflecting on how Wray had become loathed by the sailers of the Diane, Stephen notes "he had been grateful for Stephens help in the matter of ledward and wray"...

It's classic understatement; there is no other action in the book that Stephen takes related to them - it is the third and confirming hint that he had done away with them. The first was, "Tonight? I am afraid not...", pp288.

I've read the book three times and I admit I missed it the first two. O'Brian has a habit of giving you details that seem non-sequiturs until either a few paragraphs or pages later... Where the payoff comes. This was a uniquely subtle example.
#8
Old 07-21-2015, 05:06 PM
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another view

> I read the book (13 Gun..) when it came out, but I remember being a bit confused by how all the intrigue played out. What I did recall, however, was the twisted fun Stephen and his Dutch bud had cutting up the carcasses afterward.
Funny thing, I've just been re-reading some of these lately (NOT in order as I hit my favorites first, including the "Surprise" and the "Nutmeg"), so I can comment now about "The Salute". A hundredweight (or 3) in gold is a LOT, and recall that the Chinese "banker" in Batavia claimed that a tenth of that would be the equal to all the gold that could be scrapped up in PB. As near as I can tell, this gold of Stephen's is not official (agency) gold, but his private stash to carry on his own struggle with Bonaparte. It is NOT clear what he uses it for, but we can guess it was used to undermine the French Mission and buy a lot of good will.
Still, recall that Wray and Ledward (their fresh corpses) were described as being shot with a rifle. I suspect that Fox, who was mentioned several times as incessantly practicing with his pieces, and as HATING Ledward, is the one who drilled them. Perhaps Fox had some unhappy experiences (lovers' spats) with Ledward while both were in London? Stephen doesn't like any of them and does not mourn Fox after he is rubbed out by the typhoon. Jack knows that Wray was a card crook, and Wray almost certainly had his father-in-law killed in Treason's Harbour....what a monster! It's a hell of a book series........
And as an aside, the extended battle scene in "Nutmeg" between the Malays and the Diane's is one of the most hair-raising of the entire series.
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