‘You are in for the treat of your lives. Thank God for Patrick O’Brian: his genius illuminates the literature of the English language, and lightens the lives of those who read him.’ Kevin Myers, Irish Times
The Hundred Days is the long-awaited nineteenth novel in Patrick O’Brian’s best-selling series of Aubrey–Maturin tales. Following the extraordinary success of The Yellow Admiral, The Hundred Days is set in the days succeeding Napoleon’s escape from Elba. Aubrey and Maturin are in the thick of Europe’s attempt to prevent the French emperor from regaining his power; it is a novel enriched with huge excitement, action and grand naval battles. It is O’Brian at his best.
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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 manoeuvre is to intercept the sheikh'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) instalment of O'Brian's epic. Like many of its predecessors, it features a 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. In part, 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 MarcusReview:
O’Brian’s profile has also never been higher. He was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime’s contribution to literature. Interest in him continues unabated both in the UK and the US (he is Norton’s top-selling novelist).
For the first time ever every single Aubrey-Maturin novel will be available simultaneously in hardback with striking new jackets as all titles are reissued during 1998.
‘This is no mere sea story. It is history as it must have felt… Take up these books and you will share their dangers, taste their food and wine, tremble through their terrible battles, and understand for the first time the exacting and harsh nature of life in the Napoleonic era…’
Peter Hitchens, Daily Express
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Book Description Harpercollins Uk, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002257890