The Hundred Days
Napoleon has escaped from Elba – the Hundred Days have begun.
The war is over, the armies dispersed, and the former Emperor of the French has been consigned to a Mediterranean island, yet now he is marching again on Paris with an ever-growing army. Commodore Jack Aubrey and his convoy are tasked with destroying enemy shipyards along the Adriatic coast and cutting off the financial support from that quarter, in a fast and furious race to stop the Corsican from regaining all he’s lost.
All is to play for and everything is at stake.
‘Patrick O’Brian is far and away the best of the Napoleonic story tellers, and The Hundred Days is one of the best in the series; a classic naval adventure, crammed with incident, superbly plotted and utterly gripping.’
‘Patrick O’Brian is a joy to read.’
‘If O’Brian’s novels have become a cult, this is because they are truly addictive. . . They are, quite magnificently, adventure yarns whose superb authenticity never distracts from the sheer thrill of the action.’
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
‘The Aubrey–Maturin novels, by Patrick O’Brian, are so addictive that after I finish one I have to hide the next from myself for a little while in order to do anything else but read.’
‘In Aubrey and Maturin, Patrick O’Brian has created two of the most enjoyable characters in twentieth-century fiction. Their relationship sustains an absorbing and thrilling sequence of naval stories, unrivalled in their complexity, full of impeccable detail and psychological insight. O’Brian switches from the intimate to the epic with equal assurance. One of the greatest authors to sail with.’
‘My hero is Patrick O’Brian. It’s basically impossible to write that well.’
‘One of the most compelling and brilliant novelists of his time . . . Beyond his superbly elegant writing, wit and originality, Patrick O’Brian showed an understanding of the nature of a floating world at the mercy of the wind and the sea which has never been surpassed.’
Max Hastings, Evening Standard
‘I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s twenty-volume masterpiece as if it had been so many tots of Jamaica grog.’
‘Written with most engaging enthusiasm that can’t fail to give pleasure to anybody who enjoys historical adventure flavoured with more than a dash of realism.’
The Sunday Times
‘One of the most brilliantly sustained pieces of historical fictional writing this century.’
James Teacher, Spectator
‘Patrick O’Brian brings depth to his sea-stories with outstanding dialogue, characterisation, humour and a golden thread of romance. You don’t have to love books about naval battles to become entranced.’
About the author
Patrick O’Brian was born in 1914 and published his first book, Caesar, when he was only fifteen. In the 1960s he began work on the idea that, over the next four decades, evolved into the twenty-novel long Aubrey–Maturin series (with an extra unfinished volume published posthumously). In 1995 he was awarded the CBE, and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.
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.