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The Hundred Days (Vol. Book 19) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Paperback – October 17, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 19)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Thus. edition (October 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393319798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393319798
  • ASIN: 0393319792
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

More About the Author

In addition to twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many books include "Testimonies," "The Golden Ocean," and "The Unknown Shore". O'Brian also wrote acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biographies of Charles de Gaulle. He passed away in January 2000 at the age of 85.

Customer Reviews

Read the series...it is all I can say!
John Cater
O'Brien's interest in psychology went well beyond normal character development, some books contain excellent case studies of anxiety, depression, and mania.
R. Albin
By the second page, I was disgusted and angry; by the end of the second chapter, I was convinced that its "author" had not written it.
M.T. Clark (bmartin@media2.hypernet.com)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on October 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Scanning through the other customer reviews of "The Hundred Days", I am struck by the chasm between those who condemn the book (sometimes in startlingly harsh terms) and those who applaud it. I count myself firmly among the latter, but acknowledge that this volume differs significantly from earlier entries in the series. What some readers apparently view as an absence of skill and spirit on O'Brian's part, I find instead to be the product of a subtle and masterful command of the literary art. Death is a central theme, Death is a chief character of "The Hundred Days", and I find it not surprising at all that O'Brian has elected to use a style in keeping with that particular focus. I have seen numerous comments from dissatisfied readers decrying O'Brian's "failure" to deal with the deaths of major characters at length. With all due respect, I think that view misses the whole point of what and how O'Brian has written. The cheapest, most false piece of writing produced by any hack would have lavished sorrow upon these deaths; shedding shallow tears would have been the easy thing to do. The abruptness of these deaths, even the absence of healing mourning, heightens the pain and the sense of loss we feel. O'Brian has not written a book to make us "feel good". Instead he has painted for us a portrait of emotional constraint, the hues of the world washed over with the grey of an unexpressed grief. Only at rare moments are we pernitted to see the black gulf beneath Stephen's determined insistence to continue on after Diana's death. He is a man who is hiding even -- or, especially -- from himself the depth of his loss, while we see that grief has dulled his usual acuity.Read more ›
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Some critics have referred to the Aubrey/Maturin books as one long novel united not only by their historical setting but also by the central plot element of the Aubrey/Maturin friendship. Having read these fine books over a period of several years, I decided to evaluate their cumulative integrity by reading them consecutively in order of publication over a period of a few weeks. This turned out to be a rewarding enterprise. For readers unfamiliar with these books, they describe the experiences of a Royal Navy officer and his close friend and traveling companion, a naval surgeon. The experiences cover a broad swath of the Napoleonic Wars and virtually the whole globe.
Rereading all the books confirmed that O'Brian is a superb writer and that his ability to evoke the past is outstanding. O'Brian has numerous gifts as a writer. He is the master of the long, careful description, and the short, telling episode. His ability to construct ingenious but creditable plots is first-rate, probably because he based much of the action of his books on actual events. For example, some of the episodes of Jack Aubrey's career are based on the life of the famous frigate captain, Lord Cochrane. O'Brian excels also in his depiction of characters. His ability to develop psychologically creditable characters through a combination of dialogue, comments by other characters, and description is tremendous. O'Brien's interest in psychology went well beyond normal character development, some books contain excellent case studies of anxiety, depression, and mania.
Reading O'Brien gives vivid view of the early 19th century. The historian Bernard Bailyn, writing of colonial America, stated once that the 18th century world was not only pre-industrial but also pre-humanitarian (paraphrase).
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Richard Thurston on April 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I confess I peeked at the reviews of this book before settling in to read it and was a bit worried by the rather harsh remarks by a number of readers. Shouldn't have been. This is a novel of real power. Witty (often darkly humorous), intelligent and beautifully written it is completely at a piece with rest of the series. Still puzzled by those reviewers who claim this was ghosted and a bit troubled by one writer who complained Villier's death was a problem because she was such a strong female character. Well yes, but this isn't Oprah nor is this about consciousness raising as we know it at the end of the twentieth century. Rather, this work is a fantistically imagined glimpse into the very early nineteenth century-a time quite different from our own. I had heard of O'Brian first in the mid-1970's but couldn't rally much interest. Napoleonic Wars? Royal Navy? So? Then, for some reason or another, I picked up 'Master and Commander' over the New Year's Holiday. Three months later, I had read each of the nineteen novels in sequence. One of the great reading experiences of my life. 'The Hundred Days' is an altogether tougher work than those which preceed it. Aubrey and Maturin have been at this for a great long while. The war with Napoleon drags on and on. Fortunes are made and lost. Friends and family die. There indeed is very little of the joy to be found in the earlier books. Choices available to a person were far fewer in number in the early 1800's. Societal constraints, class strictures, duty-any number of factors conspired to grind a person down. By the end of 'The Hundred Days' Aubrey seems tired and spiritless. And why not? Good friends killed. Endless political intrigue.Read more ›
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