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The Hundred Days
by Patrick O'Brian


Overview - Napoleon escapes from Elba, and 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. Napoleon, like a vengeful phoenix, pursues his enemies across Europe.  Read more...

 
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More About The Hundred Days by Patrick O'Brian
 
 
 
Overview
Napoleon escapes from Elba, and 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. Napoleon, like a vengeful phoenix, 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. They are inclined toward Napoleon because of his conversion to Islam during the Egyptian campaign, but 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 at all costs intercept. In Algiers, Maturin navigates the violent currents of oriental politics and braves a desert journey that ends in a moonlit lion hunt high in the Atlas Mountains. Aubrey's quarry is a swift xebek of the Algerian corsairs: through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic, he chases them to a bleak and apparently impregnable fortress island. Boldly conceived and brilliantly executed, The Hundred Days is Patrick O'Brian's most ambitious book yet, and surely one of his most rewarding. In this climactic but not final! adventure in the celebrated Aubrey Maturin series, O'Brian succeeds in grafting his familiar, ever compelling principal characters to an historical event of tumultuous significance: the final defeat of Napoleon. The result is entertainment, excitement, and an intriguing exercise in "what if..." history, all encompassed in a magnificently rounded and complex work of fiction.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393046748
  • ISBN-10: 0393046745
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: October 1998
  • Page Count: 280
  • Dimensions: 8.72 x 5.76 x 1.07 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.09 pounds

Series: Aubrey-Maturin (Hardcover) #12

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > War & Military
Books > Fiction > Sea Stories

 
BookPage Reviews

If you have read O'Brian's work, then you are probably addicted to him. To this group of readers, I offer reassurance: the master has turned another great performance.

To the not yet addicted, I owe an explanation. This is the 18th novel in a series which has been called "the best historical novels ever written." The two central characters, Jack Aubrey, a Royal Navy officer, and his "particular friend," Stephen Maturin, an Irish/Catalan physician, natural philosopher, and intelligence agent, roam the seas in search of the King's enemies. Aubrey's officers and men more often than not defeat these enemies in thrilling actions whose accounts, we are assured by the author, are perfectly accurate renditions of real battles in the Napoleonic wars.

But there is far more than that. O'Brian places the reader in his world in much the same way one comes to know a foreign country by traveling there. You overhear a bit of conversation which conveys where the plot is going, rather than having it explained. The nautical vocabulary is used rather than defined, and soon enough, as with a foreign language, you begin to understand the difference between a cathead, catting the anchor, and a cat o' nine tails. And there is wit. Aubrey remarks of a Dalmation headland, "Cape San Giorgio . . . Have you noticed how foreigners can never get English names quite right?"

With the dialogue doing most of the work, O'Brian's exposition can be jewel-like. Here he describes the arrival of a one-handed midshipman before an action: "William Reade came up the side, his hook gleaming and with something of the look of a keen, intelligent dog that believes it may have heard someone taking down a fowling-piece."

One of O'Brian's most intriguing talents is that of ellipse, of letting a fact of immense importance be dropped, almost casually, in the dialog of a minor character, or en passant in the past tense. He is capable of building the tension before a naval battle for a third of a book and then calling off the battle - and he can do this without irritating the reader. Sadly, two of our veteran characters, members of the literary family, are killed off in this volume, and O'Brian spends no more than a dozen words on either death. It is told without a hint of sentiment but with a resonance that pervades the book.

In the end, of course, it is the richness of O'Brian's characters which explain his abiding appeal. After 18 volumes, Jack and Stephen, their wives, their shipmates and enemies, become like members of our family. The constant repetition of their foibles and mannerisms, the total consistency of the great strains of their character, all seem to underline the essential truth of these works of fiction. If his work is the product of a formula, then it is a formula which works just like life. The constants are the people. It is the scene outside them that changes as the ship bowls along.

J.W. Foster is a sailor and attorney in Columbia, South Carolina.

 
BAM Customer Reviews