By Aubry D'Arminio
Updated July 20, 2007 04:00 AM

Published here for the first time, The Road to Sarmarcand, Patrick O’Brian’s charming 1954 adventure, features his original seafaring duo, Irish Sullivan and Scottish Ross, in a series of increasingly perilous, mostly implausible escapades. In 1930s Asia, the sailors and their posse — including an indestructible Swede and three Mongol warriors — travel to Oxford by way of the Gobi desert. Warring Kazaks, bloodthirsty monks, and horny husband hunters abound. Each encounter — related with one part double entendre (”women…they always get you down”), two parts grit (”through helmet, skull, and bone the sword bit to the ground”) — is utterly entertaining. A-