The Hundred Days

by Patrick O'Brian

Hardcover, 1998

Call number




W. W. Norton & Company (1998), 288 pages


Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML: When Napoleon escapes from Elba, the fate of Europe hinges on a desperate mission: Stephen Maturin must ferret out the French dictator's secret link to the powers of Islam, and Jack Aubrey must destroy it. Like a vengeful phoenix, Napoleon pursues his enemies across Europe. If he can corner the British and Prussians before their Russian and Austrian allies arrive, his genius will lead the French armies to triumph at Waterloo. In the Balkans, preparing a thrust northwards into Central Europe to block the Russians and Austrians, a horde of Muslim mercenaries is gathering in support of Napoleon. However, they will not move without a shipment of gold ingots from Sheik Ibn Hazm, which, according to British intelligence, is on its way via camel caravan to the coast of North Africa. It is this gold that Aubrey and Maturin must intercept at all costs. The colorful historical backdrop, engaging plot, and memorable characters make this nineteenth Aubrey-Maturin adventure a must-listen..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jolyonpatten
Not O'Brian at his best, I fear, though I think there is a marked diminution in power after the Letter of Marque anyway. This one is rather going through the motions and the deaths of two major characters is dealt with in such an off-hand manner that it rather allows you a glimpse into O'Brian's
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reported personal coldness.
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LibraryThing member iayork
Sad stuff?: This is a terribly disappointing book. I've long admired O'Brian and think him the finest writer of his generation. I've read and re-read the Aubrey/Maturin novels, I've looked forward eagerly to the each new installment in series; and I've never been disappointed - until now. This book
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is unworthy of the man. Has he lost interest in his creations, the immortal Killick, Bonden, Pullings et al? If so, it would have been far better to leave things well alone. His heart is perhaps no longer in it. Poor,thin, pale, weak, sickly stuff, as Dr Maturin might say.
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LibraryThing member littlegeek
Two sudden deaths of major characters dealt with summarily. hmmm. The lion hunt was good, tho.
LibraryThing member ehines
I understand the upset some people felt at the dramatic events dealt with "summarily" in this book. It's true . . . but O'Brian was often a bit elliptical in how he dealt with high drama--about some things he seemed to be a firm believer in "the less said the better"; and I suspect we'll read more
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of these events in the next book.

I'd be curious as to why he made some of the choices he did in this book. This might inspire me to look at one of his bios.

BUT all that said, O'Brian was still writing well here and I don't think this is so much a case of growing tired of his creations as wanting to settle some scores with the reader and some of his characters before the story ended.
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LibraryThing member budstooth
After enjoying the Yellow Admiral so very much....this book was quite a disappointment. So much so, that after leafing through #20 a bit, I decided not to spend any more time on it at all. Although I have not read O'Brian's biography, I suppose the death of his wife might have had something to do
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with his change in tone, and perhaps that's understandable...but still, I wish I hadn't read this one. I would have preferred to have my delight in the series remain unalloyed.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Recounting the time period when Napoleon made his abortive attempt to recapture his glory as emperor, this novel finds Jack & Stephen doing their best to keep ships from joining Napoleon and stopping a major transfer of wealth. Mr. O'Brien continues his mastery of writing, juxtaposing such scenes
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as the cramped sick hold where a sailor recounts what brought him to the seas, immediately followed by a stretch of sea and scenery amazing to behold. There are some terribly sorrowful events recounted in this book - all occurring "off-stage" and leaving the reader to mourn on his own, accompanied only in the imagination of the reader by the characters chiefly concerned.
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LibraryThing member BobVTReader
This is the is the next to last book in the series and it is a well written and interesting little tale. Technically there is another book after the next one but it was never completed.
LibraryThing member paakre
Another winner from O'Brian, which has Stephen adopting through purchasing as slaves two young Irish children. Other things I loved about this volume:

-- how O'Brian shows that warfare is changing through preemptive strikes
-- the thrilling lion hunt
-- the precarious nature of being named a Dey in
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the Arab lands
-- the importance of money in warfare, both in buying mercenaries, and in doling out prizes
-- the politics of the admiralty, and how Jack gets lucky again
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LibraryThing member sben
More of a nautical romp than the last book, though not as light-hearted as some.
LibraryThing member JBD1
Not perhaps the best in the series, I'm afraid. The deaths of several long-important characters are just sort of lobbed in offhand, it seems like ... and much of the "hundred days" action is of course offstage. There are some lovely moments here, including Stephen's rescue of two Irish children,
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but this certainly wasn't one of my favorite volumes in the series.
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LibraryThing member wvlibrarydude
Another wonderful book of Aubrey and Maturin. I hate that there is only one full story left in the series to read.
LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
The Hundred Days, Patrick O’Brian’s nineteenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Yellow Admiral, with Napoleon having escaped from his exile on Elba. On land, the Allies are joining to stop Napoleon, but the Austrian and Russian forces are blocked
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partly by geography and partly through mutual distrust. In order to drive them apart, Napoleon has reached out to Muslim forces in North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, seeking funds to hire Assassins as mercenaries. He also works to rebuild his fleet in order to challenge those forces loyal to Louis XVIII.

As the story begins, Dr. Stephen Maturin had briefly left the squadron to bury his wife, Diana, after she died in a carriage accident. O’Brian had foreshadowed this in The Yellow Admiral, but it still feels shocking to have so familiar a character die. Maturin throws himself into his intelligence work, relishing the opportunity to stop Napoleon once and for all. Admiral Lord Keith gives Commodore Jack Aubrey new orders to stop the gold from making its way to Napoleon and to convince any French captains he meets to join the side of Louis XVIII. Along with the expected sea maneuvers, O’Brian further examines the nature of luck as Killick accidentally breaks Maturin’s narwhal horn, which the crew held to bring the luck of a unicorn horn. Maturin himself is full in his grief, seeming at times a different character, but the regularity of sea life helps him to find some familiarity in which to recover.

By land, O’Brian uses Maturin to examine the different loyalties of the Muslim leaders regarding the Sunni-Shiite divide and how Napoleon worked to take advantage of it to gain allies, while a trip to meet the local Dey, Omar Pasha, provides some land-based action. Maturin studies the local fauna, gains the necessary intelligence, but worries if it will be actionable when a sirocco wind coming off the land delays either the Surprise or its tender, the Ringle, from returning for him. Fortunately, he makes it in time and brings Aubrey the intelligence and they make a plan to intercept a xebec carrying the gold in the Strait of Gibraltar. The battle goes on for days with Barrett Bonden dying in the first blow, adding yet another shocking death as Bonden had been with Jack’s crew since the first book, Master and Commander. The Surprise and her crew manage to capture the xebec and all its gold, learning on their return to Gibraltar that Napoleon was defeated in the Low Countries and the war is over. Jack now heads off on his mission to Chile.

With The Hundred Days, O’Brian brings the Napoleonic Wars to a close. The series began during the War of the Second Coalition, a war many of the European monarchies fought against revolutionary France, which in turn led to the War of the Third Coalition under Napoleon, who also fought the Wars of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Coalitions. O’Brian uses Aubrey to comment on the fact that the period was marked by twenty years of almost constant war with few interruptions. He also demonstrates a great deal of narrative maturity in this novel, for while many members of Aubrey’s ships’ companies had died during the course of the series, the death of Diana and Bonden stand out for the large role they played in Aubrey and Maturin’s lives. The Hundred Days further offers a bit of a look back, with the crew visiting Gibraltar and Port Mahon in Minorca, showing what has changed or remained the same since the events of Master and Commander. This nineteenth novel is easily one of the strongest books in the Aubrey-Maturin series. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes and maps of the Mediterranean coast on the endpapers.
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LibraryThing member malcrf
A re-read as I'd originally read this hopelessly out of sync and the Aubrey/Maturin series does carry over from one book to another, it is a series best read in sync. Another typically excellent yarn in the series, excellent characterization, vivid prose, realistic action and inaction.




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