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The Hundred Days [Audio CD]

Patrick O'Brian , Simon Vance
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 29.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2008 Aubrey-Maturin (Book 19)
Napoleon, escaped from Elba, pursues his enemies across Europe like a vengeful phoenix. 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 Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin must at all costs intercept. The fate of Europe hinges on their desperate mission.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a weird collection... May 31 2002
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars an utter disappointment Jan. 8 2000
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Ok Historical Fiction Sept. 3 2012
By Murray
The novel is about the adventures of a Royal Navy sea captain during the Napoleonic wars. The protagonist Jack Audrey and his side kick Dr. Maturin take on another mission in this book that is 19th in a series of books that number to 20. Life aboard a navy ship is portrayed well with terms like scuttlebutt, port, and starboard deployed for a vivid picture of life at sea.

This historical adventure novel is unique for the author's use of historical language that is unfortunately hard to follow at times. The dialogue represents the use of English in the beginning of the 19th century, and this reader was running to the thesaurus too many times for a book whose purpose is to entertain.

The plot is a point A to B journey with conflict with various villains. A sub plot might be the historically accurate criticism of Islam of the 19th century. Taking Europeans as slaves, and as sex slaves, and a fatalism that disregards respect for life are all in the story. I liked the history, but was disappointed with the grand finally. I have been there before in other novels of the same genre.

If you like history, naval history, and fiction based on it, then you will like The Hundred Days. I fit the above description and will check out O'Brian's Master and Commander, which is the first in this series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining as always March 4 2000
By A Customer
I love great historical fiction and O'Brian's Napoleonic era novels, although not as timely as more recently set novels like the Civil War's "Cold Mountain" or WWII's "The Triumph and the Glory", capture the era in magnificent fashion. But no matter what type of fiction you like you should read the Aubrey/Maturin novels, they are wonderful, finely-crafted examples of the story-telling art. If you want to learn how to write a novel, read Patrick O'Brian, If you love to read great novels, he's your man too.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Scrub Feb. 3 2000
About a third of the way through I thought, "O'Brian has died and they're having someone ghost-write this!" Stephen and Jack are mere caricatures. The bright, witty dialogue is missing and I just felt that some one had 'played me the flat' and that person was an awful scrub.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Making what one can of the end... Jan. 12 2000
While some of the reviews here have lambasted "The Hundred Days", after taking a step back and looking at it on its own rather than in the spot light pointed at his previous works in the series, I'd have to say that O'Brian did a more than passable job. Things that must be taken into consideration include the stage in development of both the characters and the story, as well as, of course, the immense build-up of expectations that met "Hundred Days" on its release from the yard. One must remember that POB's series is not comprised of massive line-of-battle ships, but consists of a sizable squadron of fast, nimble frigates of the sort before Americans got hold of the idea. Given that, in the proper context, POB has given us another lovely, though less lively, installment. Read it not becasue it's the best O'Brian has given us, but because it's much better than most of what those other than O'Brian have given us.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another really good O'Brian novel. Jan. 5 2000
By A Customer
I finished reading "The Hundred Days", number nineteen in Patrick O'Brian's "The Aubrey-Mautrin Novels" series. Another excellent novel. Even with number nineteen in the series I am not yet tired of these novels. There were the usual wonderful days at sea and good foreign intrigue. I am anxious to start number twenty which I have ready on my reading queue.
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