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The Hundred Days Paperback – Oct 7 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: UK General Books (Oct. 7 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006512119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006512110
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 41 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The year is 1815, and Europe's most unpopular (not to mention tiniest) empire-builder has escaped from Elba. In The Hundred Days, it's up to Jack Aubrey--and surgeon-cum-spymaster Stephen Maturin--to stop Napoleon in his tracks. How? For starters, Aubrey and his squadron have been dispatched to the Adriatic coast, to keep Bonapartist shipbuilders from beefing up the French navy. Meanwhile, one Sheik Ibn Hazm is fomenting an Islamic uprising against the Allies. The only way to halt this maneuver is to intercept the sheik's shipment of gold--because in the Napoleonic era, as in our own, even the most ardent of mercenaries requires a salary.

The Hundred Days is the 19th (and, we are told, the penultimate) installment of O'Brian's epic. Like many of its predecessors, it features a fairly swashbuckling plot, complete with cannon fire, exotic disguises, and Aubrey's suspenseful, slow-motion pursuit of an Algerian xebek. Yet it never turns into a mere exercise in Hornblowerism. Partly this is due to O'Brian's delicate touch with character--the relationship between extroverted Aubrey and introverted Maturin has deepened with each book, and even Aubrey's reunion with his childhood companion Queenie Keith is full of novelistic nuance: "They sat smiling at one another. An odd pair: handsome creatures both, but they might have been of the same sex or neither." Nor does the author focus too exclusively on his dynamic duo. Indeed, The Hundred Days is very much a chronicle of a floating community, which Maturin describes as "his own village, his own ship's company, that complex entity so much more easily sensed than described: part of his natural habitat."

Finally, O'Brian shows his usual expertise in balancing the great events with the most minuscule ones. Other authors have written about battles at sea, and still others have recorded the rapid rise and fall of Napoleon's fortunes after his escape from confinement. But who else would give equal time--and an equal charge of delight--to Maturin's discovery of an anomalous nuthatch? --James Marcus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The Aubrey-Maturin series (The Commodore, etc.) nears the two dozen mark the way it began, with colorful historical background, smooth plotting, marvelous characters and great style. The title refers to Napoleon's escape from Elba and brief return to power. Capt. Jack Aubrey must stop a Moorish galley, loaded with gold for Napoleon's mercenaries, from making its delivery. The action takes us into two seas and one ocean and continues nearly nonstop until the climax in the Atlantic. We're quickly reacquainted with the two heroes: handsome sea dog Jack Aubrey, by now a national hero, and Dr. Stephen Maturin, Basque-Irish ship's doctor, naturalist, English spy and hopelessly incompetent seaman. Nothing stays the same, alas: Jack has gained weight almost to obesity, and Stephen is desolated by the death of his dashing, beautiful wife?but they're still the best of friends, each often knowing what the other is thinking. The prose moves between the maritime sublime and the Austenish bon mot ("a man generally disliked is hardly apt to lavish good food and wine on those who despise him, and Ward's dinners were execrable"). There are some favorite old characters, notably Aubrey's steward, Preserved Killick: "ill-faced, ill-tempered, meagre, atrabilious, shrewish" and thoroughly amusing. Chief among entertaining newcomers is Dr. Amos Jacob, a Cainite Jew ("they derive their descent from the Kenites, who themselves have Abel's brother Cain as their common ancestor"), who comes from a family of jewel merchants and has an encyclopedic grasp of Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish languages (and politics). Jacob is as expert as Stephen at spying and even more of a landlubber. O'Brian continues to unroll a splendid Turkish rug of a saga, and if it seems unlikely that the sedentary Stephen would hunt lions in the Atlas mountains (with the Dey of Algiers!), O'Brian brings off even this narrative feat with aplomb.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Buck Bauer on Jan. 8 2000
Format: Hardcover
Don't read this book. If I could, I would give it zero stars. O'Brian's series of Aubrey/Maturin novels are among the greatest works of historical fiction ever written, but the series should have ended with the previous volume, a gem, #18, "The Yellow Admiral," which nicely ties up a number of plot threads, leaving us to imagine a happy future for our favorite characters. "The Hundred Days" is both unnecesssary and bad. I am not the only Aubrey fan I know who was left wondering whether O'Brian was in fact the author -- it reads like someone trying to imitate O'Brian's style, and failing badly. Abandoning his beloved slow match in favor of the flint lock is just one of several things that Jack does that are completely out of character. In the subsequent and final volume, #20, "Blue at the Mizzen," little better than this one, O'Brian attempts to backtrack and have Aubrey compensate for the most glaring one of these lapses, but it's too little and too late.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "heavypen" on May 31 2002
Format: Hardcover
A couple of years later and I stroll in and see such a weird collection of remarks! It seems that people either love this installment or absolutely loathe it. By my rating, you can see that I enjoyed it immensely. I think that O'Brian lived up to his reputation as a sophisticated storyteller. Yes, Diana's death is a mere mention - but the author creates such a deeply painful upset that feels very real - we grieve with Stephen from the shock - and if we are open to it, we appreciate the story even more. And yes, Bonden's demise is equally jarring, but that's life at sea (especially during that time). My one critique of O'Brian - there should have been more death among Aubrey's and Maturin's closest friends and followers - that is, if history were followed more closely. So - to the naysayers I say -"you are heard, but you do not speak for everybody." I love this book as I love the entire series.
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Format: Paperback
I, as countless others, noticed within pages that this book did not have the heft, color, culture or beauty of the past entries. It felt like the OUTLINE of a possible book, with none of the nuances and flourishes filled in. A pale watercolor against the previous Rembrandts. And let's lose a vital character like Diana OFFSTAGE, as if she were a minor character, a footnote when really she balanced and made whole the Maturin we came to know. His tempestuous love affair made an otherwise dour, eccentric character come into his own; a character arc that paid off handsomely. Aubrey and the good doctor go through the motions as if ghosts of voyages past. They play music, engage in intrigue, visit (in a glancing manner) foreign exotic ports, and eat their toasted cheese -- but it's a vessel that's altogether too unseaworthy for the journey. Either the prolific author's powers have waned at this late stage, or he was trying to beat the deadline (he's 85 after all) and finish the saga with a round number; 20 (Blue Mizzen's out now). That's a cruel assessment, but his fault entirely for writing so beautifully of a time past that we came to expect that level of excellence, or more to the point, crave and need it like a good serving of plum duff and spotted dog. May his high standards unfurl and send us sailing at 12 knots and above on the next peregrination. For now, I'll take a bolus and bit of laudanum to ease the pain and curl up in my hammock while awaiting another installment.
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Format: Hardcover
Much of what other disappointed O'Brian fans have said about The Hundred Days is certainly true, but I think I noticed something unusual which may be a clue to "what happened". The first half of the book is exceptionally poor, with almost no use of nautical terms, repetitive expressions (surely there is another word that will do in place of "said"), and lack of historical flavor. The second half is much better and, although not up to the best of previous volumes in this series, approaches The Yellow Admiral, for example, in style and plot.
Is this just my imagination? Perhaps. Maybe I got used to the "new" O'Brien by page 100 and was able to get over my initial shock. Still, what is the reason for killing off Diana and Bonden? I can see that a literary purpose might be served by the former (but it is never realised), but Bonden! I wonder if there could be something about the author's health (he is no longer young, more's the pity), production schedules, or ? which caused The Hundred Days to fall so short of the mark.
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Format: Hardcover
Much of what other disappointed O'Brien fans have said about The Hundred Days is certainly true, but I think I noticed something unusual which may be a clue to "what happened". The first half of the book is exceptionally poor, with almost no use of nautical terms, repetitive expressions (surely there is another word that will do in place of "said"), and lack of historical flavor. The second half is much better and, although not up to the best of previous volumes in this series, approaches The Yellow Admiral, for example, in style and plot.
Is this just my imagination? Perhaps. Maybe I got used to the "new" O'Brien by page 100 and was able to get over the shock of the start. And what is the reason for killing off Diana and Bonden? I can see that a literary purpose might be served by the former (but it is never realised), but Bonden! I wonder if there could be something about the author's health (he is no longer young, more's the pity), production schedules, or ? which caused the apparent inconsistency within The Hundred Days.
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