The Patrick O'Brian Compendium©

The Works of Dean H. King

Dean H. King has been instrumental in helping readers worldwide get a better understanding of all the concepts, geography, history and culture in Patrick O'Brian's work. He also gives those of us who have read all the Aubrey/Maturin series more books to feast on. Your webmaster still keeps a copy of Sea of Words nearby as he re-reads the A/M series. Click here to go to the official Dean King web site or go to Dean's Facebook page.

Lately, he has been writing of things far more arid - see below for details. Click on any title listed to read reviews or purchase from Amazon.


A Facebook Testimonial to Dean from His Pastor

Apart from God, family and the search committee, few people have been as pivotal to my being your rector as Dean King and his wife Jessica. Yep. Twenty-four years ago, they were invited to a party in Richmond, Virginia with the express purpose of showing Melanie and me how spiffy young people with Chapel Hill and New York City in their backgrounds might want to live in Richmond. And it worked. We might not have ended up in Richmond if not for Dean and Jessica, and it was from there that I was prepared to come to Raleigh.
It was Dean who inspired me to consider my own life of letters, and after several years of watching him write and sell books at the highest level, I wrote my first book under his guidance and acquired a publisher. Indeed that book deal came through before I even finished writing the book, and at the very time the search committee at St. Michael’s found me and called me to be your rector. That book gave me little fame and no fortune, but it did establish me somewhat credibly as a writer and teacher of the things of God, and you all hired me, in part, with that on my resume.

Dean King is not exactly a household name, but he is the kind of author that has fans all over the world who eagerly await his next project, each having loved his last. He began in magazine writing as a young Carolina graduate living in New York City. Always entrepreneurial, Dean found niche markets underserved by writers and publishers. One such was the fanbase of sea-faring adventure novelist Patrick O’Brian, whose Aubrey-Maturin series inspired the movie Master & Commander with Russell Crowe. Dean created a series of companion books—maps and dictionaries and so forth—to parallel the O’Brian books and made a name for himself. He then cracked the long mystery of Patrick O’Brian’s true identity, and wrote the definitive biography of the man. That book landed Dean a multi-page review in The New York Times Book Review, and a bigger career.

His next book, Skeletons on the Zahara, was a huge success for Dean, being an international hit with editions in several foreign languages. It was the tale of an American ship captain, who was wrecked off the coast of West Africa, enslaved by traders, and dragged across the Sahara. The captain’s memoirs were widely read in the mid-19th century, and are said to have inspired Lincoln’s growing animus against slavery. Dean recreated many of the adventures himself in preparation to tell the tale. Skeletons was followed by other historical nonfiction narratives including covering the women of Mao Tse Tung's infamous Long March and the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. The latter book, The Feud, continues to sell and gets Dean plugged into all sorts of bourbon and reality-tv boondoggles.
Dean’s new book is Guardians of the Valley: John Muir And The Friendship That Saved Yosemite, ‘a dramatic and uplifting story of friendship, the written word, and the transformative power of nature.’ I have been listening to Dean talk about this book from before he wrote the first sentence, to now that it is out in a major top-tier national release. And of course I love that the book is about the spiritual journey of John Muir, the fruit of a zealous Christian family, who was also a man of learning, science, business, and adventure, and his editor and friend, Robert Underwood Johnson. Likewise, writers, editors, friends and the transformative power of nature are a big part of my life. I hope you will plan to be at church for Adult Forum this Sunday to hear Dean King. Dean’s book does not come out until next week, but he will have some advance copies available for purchase after his talk.

Coming out on March 21. 2023 is Dean's latest work Guardians of the Valley.

Skeletons on the

An amazing tale of shipwreck and survival in Africa in the early decades of the 19th century. 

Unbound book cover


The story of the 30 women on the Long March in China in 1934, exhaustively researched and documented and, as always, told with excitement and enthusiasm.

Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed

A complete and sympathetic biography, wherein we find that Jack Aubrey and Steven Maturin may not have been the only fictional characters. Kudos may be found here.

Harbors and High Seas

Now in the 3rd Edition - a synopsis of each Aubrey/Maturin book, with maps of the voyage (even to the fictional destinations) and descriptions of the most important items in each work.

Here's what others say about this work

A Sea of Words

Also in the 3rd Edition - indispensable reference to almost all the terms in the Aubrey/Maturin series, organized alphabetically, with several informative essays about the Napoleonic era at sea. Find out what a galipot really is.

The reviews are here.

Every Man Will Do His Duty

A collection of descriptions of life in the Napoleonic era, as told by real-life sailors and others. Not everyone got to sail with the likes of Jack Aubrey.

Universal acclaim located here.

The Heart of Oak Sea Classic Series is edited by Dean King. They are all very good companions to the Aubrey/Maturin series, giving different perspectives on the events of the Napoleonic era. Click on any title listed to read reviews or purchase from Amazon.
The Black Ship An account of the mutiny of the crew of the H.M.S. Hermione, in which the real-life H.M.S. Surprise played a key role
Decision at Trafalgar Contains a unique social history of the decisive battle at Trafalgar, including what it meant to the English people and the environment surrounding it. Much more than just a description of the battle, though that's in there, too
Doctor Dogbody's Leg Tongue-in-cheek tall tales from one naval surgeon's perspective
Lord Cochrane, Seaman, Radical, Liberator : A Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald The real-life captain of H.M.S. Surprise, after whom Patrick O'Brian modeled several events in Jack Aubrey's career
Mr. Midshipman Easy A very readable account of Frederick Marryat's voyages with Lord Thomas Cochrane
Percival Keene Rags-to-riches at sea, in which the title character meets Napoleon
Peter Simple A good account of life aboard ship, but told from the point-of-view of the lower deck. Those tars seem to have to have an awful lot of fun at each other's expense
The Rover Vintage Joseph Conrad (his last book) lots of subtle philosophical insights into the period of the French Revolution and the age of Napoleon
The Wing-And-Wing or Le Feu-Folet : A Tale By James Fenimore Cooper, this one is a tad windy, if you get my drift (and if you have tried to read Last of the Mohicans, you will)


Dean King at 2010
                Virginia Festival of the Book


Dean King unveils his work, Unbound, at the Virginia Festival of the Book, March 19, 2010.

                King at 2004 Virginia Festival of the Book

Dean King at the 2004 Virginia Festival of the Book, leading the discussion session "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World".

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