The Hundred Days (novel)

The Hundred Days (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = The Hundred Days

image_caption = First edition cover
author = Patrick O'Brian
country = United Kingdom
language = English
cover_artist = Geoff Hunt
series = Aubrey-Maturin series
genre = Historical novel
publisher = HarperCollins
pub_date = 28 September 1998
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio Book (Cassette, CD)
pages = 352 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = ISBN 0002257890 (first edition, hardback)
preceded_by = The Yellow Admiral
followed_by = Blue at the Mizzen

"The Hundred Days" (1998) is a historical novel written by Patrick O'Brian. It is one of the series featuring Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin set normally at sea during the Napoleonic Wars, comprising the nineteenth in the Aubrey-Maturin series. The title refers to the Hundred Days, a period when Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba and temporarily returned to power in France.

Plot introduction

Like the title, it is also an interlude in Aubrey's career where O'Brian decides to clean up and consolidate the huge canvas of characters he introduced in his earlier books, and uses "deus ex machina" to dispose of some characters who he either tired of or found inconvenient to maintain in his storyline.

Stephen's wife Diana dies, as does Aubrey's mother-in-law, Mrs Williams and her equally unpleasant companion, in a crash when Diana's rash driving overturns their coach. Diana's death leaves Stephen completely shattered, unwilling to eat or speak for long periods of time, but he pulls himself together to foil Napoleon's latest plot. Christine Hatherleigh's husband, Captain Wood, the colonial governor of Sierra Leone also dies (Dr Glover tells Stephen their marriage was almost a sham given that the husband was impotent). And Aubrey's coxswain, Barret Bonden, is killed in the obligatory single ship action of this book.

Aubrey's squadron is dispatched to the Ionian and Adriatic to put an end to Buonapartist shipbuilding in those parts and to persuade some French ships to come over to the Allies, or to take, sink, burn or destroy those which will not. It is also the intention of a Muslim confederacy to prevent the junction of the Russian and Prussian armies, or at least to delay it long enough for Napoleon's superior numbers to crush each of the Allied states separately. However, the large number of Muslim mercenaries require payment, which is to come from a Muslim state on the confines of Morocco, travelling by way of Algiers. Maturin and his assistant, Dr Jacob, are on board the "Surprise" to help intercept this payment.

Plot summary

The Commodore's squadron leaves Gibraltar to defend a convoy of Indiamen from Moor Xebecs and galleys. Although they are successful, Hugh Pomfret commits suicide, saddened by having drowned so many Christian rowers. Aubrey is then instructed to proceed to the Adriatic, stopping off in Mahon along the way. The "Surprise" encounters Captain Christy-Palliere - Captain of the Royalist "Caroline" - who informs Jack about the French situation in the Adriatic before sailing onto Mahon. The Surprise and Pomone then sail to Ragusa Vecchia where a newly-refitted French frigate is based under the command of Charles de La Tour, an adamant Buonapartist and sink it. They then proceed to the Porte de Spalato where they meet another French frigate - Drs Stephen and Jacob are sent aboard and an agreement is reached to fight a 'mock' battle after which the French will accompany the English ships back to Malta. They also lay out a considerable amount of gold to have the new French ships burnt in the dockyards along the coast by disgruntled unpaid dockworkers - e.g. Papadopoulos', Pavelic's, Simon Macchabe's and seven off Durazzo itself (Somers likens the destruction 'to buying one's salmon of a fishmonger's slab than catching it with a well-directed fly').

On reaching Algiers, and after meeting the Consul, Sir Peter Clifford, and his wife, Maturin and Jacob attend an interview with the Dey's Vizier at Kasbah, the Dey's palace. Stephen presents the Vizier with a beautiful blue stone and they are instructed to travel onwards to the Dey, Omar Pasha, at his hunting-lodge at Shatt el Khadna. The Dey invites Stephen to go lion hunting with him and the Dey kills a large lion, Mahmud, and Stephen its lioness which attempts to kill the Dey. For this deed, Omar Pasha swears that no assistance will be given to the Muslim plot. Jacob then discovers the Vizier's message to the Sheikh of Azgar, Ibn Hazm, to have the gold carried by a fast-sailing xebec from Arzila (just SW of Tangiers), captained by an Algerian corsair via the Straits of Gibraltar straight to Durazzo. On their return to Algiers, the Drs learn that Omar Pasha has been assassinated by the Vizier, who privately admires Buonaparte.

The doctors are taken aboard the "Ringle", along with two Irish children - Kevin and Mona Fitzpatrick - whom Stephen buys from a slaver, and join Aubrey back in Port Mahon. They then proceed to Gibraltar to update Lord Barmouth on the situation, encountering "Hamadryad" and Heneage Dundas along the way. Aubrey is disliked by the new Commander-in-Chief for having discreetly turned away his son on an earlier commission, and Jack feels his plan may be given to another frigate. However, Barnmouth's politico, Matthew Arden, is highly influential in Whitehall and a close friend of Lord Keith and Maturin assures Jack he will not be ill-used. Jack is also a cousin of Barmouth's new young wife, Isobel Carrington, and the Admiral's attitude becomes more friendly once she makes him aware of this.

Dr Jacob finds out the corsair has hired two galleys to act as decoys - one on the African side and one mid-channel - whilst he lies under Tarifa before running through the Straits. The "Surprise" lies in wait in the Straits and, on spotting the xebec, gives chase. Murad Reis, its captain, fires on the frigate and destroys the second gun of her starboard broadside, killing Bonden, its captain and Hallam, a midshipman. After a long pursuit, the galley finally holes up at Cranc (Crab) island but finally surrenders after McLeod, a crags man from St Kilda, climbs a steep cliff and a nine-pounded cannon is hauled up. The corsairs men of war, seeing the situation is hopeless, behead Murad and surrender, along with a dozen English prisoners.

After returning victorious to Gibraltar, there is some dispute over the prize money but Ali Bey is deposed and the new Dey, Hassan, renounces his claim to the gold (given that the "Surprise" was fired on first) in return for the xebec and a £250,000 loan to consolidate his position in Algiers. The Commander-in-Chief, on the advice of Lord Keith, gives his assent and the Algerine delegation is given a handsome send-off. The end of the book coincides with Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, and thus the effective end of the Napoleonic wars. Aubrey and Maturin set sail for Chile in the "Surprise" to try and undermine the Spanish colonial rule there - a continuation of the theme of The Wine-Dark Sea.

Characters in "The Hundred Days"

*Jack Aubrey - Commodore and later on HMS "Surprise"
*Stephen Maturin - ship's surgeon, friend to Jack and an intelligence officer
*Sophie Aubrey - Jack's wife
*Diana Maturin - Stephen's wife (dies in a carriage accident)
*Brigid Maturin - Stephen's daughter
*Mrs Clarissa Oakes - tutor to Jack's children
*Mrs. Williams - Sophie's mother and Jack's mother-in-law (dies in a carriage accident)
*Bonden - Aubrey's Coxswain
*Preserved Killick - Aubrey's steward
*Padeen Colman
*Mr Harding - First Lieutenant on the "Surprise"
*William Reade - Master's mate
*Mr Woodbine - Master on the "Surprise"
*Mrs Poll Skeeping - loblolly boy on the "Surprise"
*Mrs Cheal- bosun wife's sister
*Admiral Keith - Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet; replaced by Admiral Lord Barmouth
*Queenie Keith - the Admiral's wife and Jack's childhood friend
*Dr Glover - surgeon on "Pomone"
*Lieutenant Edwards and John Arrowsmith - two elderly Lieutenants retired in Gibraltar
*Mr William Kent - Whitehall official
*Mr Dee - authority on eastern matters, particularly finance
*Dr Amos Jacob - assistant surgeon on the "Surprise"; a Spanish Jew, speaking Seraphim, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish
*Admiral Fanshawe - Port Admiral of Mahon
*James Wright - Engineer and Member of the Royal Society
*Mr Whewell - Third Lieutenant on the "Surprise"
*John Daniel - Master's Mate on the "Surprise"
*Captain Hobden - Marine Captain on the "Surprise"
*Kevin and Mona Fitzpatrick - two young Irish slaves
*Captain Heneage Dundas
*Sir Peter and Lady Clifford - British consul at Algiers
*Isobel Carrington - the new Lady Barmouth and Jack Aubrey's cousin

The French:
*Captain Christy-Palliere - Captain of the Royalist "Caroline"
*Richard - "Caroline"'s secretary
*Captain Delalande - Captain of the "Cerbere"

The Arabs:
*Omar Pasha, a Dey
*Murad Reis, a corsair xebec captain

hips in "The Hundred Days"

The British:

Commodore's squadron:

*HMS "Pomone" - thirty-eight; Captain Pomfret; replaced by Captain Vaux
*HMS "Surprise"
*HMS "Dover" - thirty-two; Captain Ward
*HMS "Rainbow" - corvette; Captain Brawley
*HMS "Ganymede" - corvette; Captain Cartwright
*HMS "Briseis" - a brig; Captain Harris

*HMS "Hamadryad"

*HMS "Royal Sovereign" - Lord Keith's Flag Ship of Mediterranean Fleet
*HMS "Implacable" - Lord Barmouth's Flag Ship of Mediterranean Fleet

The French:
*His Most Christian Majesty's frigate "Caroline"
*"Ardent" - thirty-two gun Buonapartist frigate; Post Captain Charles de La Tour
*"Cerbere" - frigate; Captain Delalande

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

Dupuytren's contraction:

Dr Amos Jacob brings aboard a preserved hand exhibiting what is described as palmar aponeurosis - and now known as [ Dupuytren's contraction] , named for distinguished surgeon and Stephen's friend Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, a hand with the fingers bent inwards and the fingernails growing through the flesh of the palm. Stephen Maturin also brings aboard a narwhal tusk from a previous Baltic voyage.

The superstitious seamen accept one as a Hand of Glory and the other as a unicorn's horn, and regard them as good luck charms. The Marine Captain's dog, Naseby, eats the hand, and an emetic only recovers the bones, while the narwhal tusk is broken when a drunken Killick and an even more drunken ship's boy play around with it - something that makes the domineering Killick suddenly very unpopular with his shipmates. A measure of goodwill is restored on the ship when Stephen wires the bones together to make a skeletal hand - even more sinister looking, which pleases the crew, and an old marine engineer, Mr.White (a cousin of Christine Hatherleigh) manages to glue the horn back together.

Literary significance & criticism


"The Hundred Days is certain to delight O'Brian's fans, for whom happiness is an unending stream of Aubrey/Maturin books.... [It] is a fine novel that stands proudly on the shelf with the others." — Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times [ [ Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times as quoted at] ]
"One of the best novelists since Jane Austen. . . . The Hundred Days may be the best installment yet in . . . [the Aubrey/Maturin] series. I give O'Brian's fans joy of it." Philadelphia Inquirer [ [ Philadelphia Inquirer as quoted at] ]

Publishing history

*1998, UK, HarperCollins (ISBN 0002257890), pub date 7 September 1998, hardback (First edition)
*1998, UK, HarperCollins (ISBN 0001055313), pub date 7 September 1998, audiobook (Audio Cassette, narrator Robert Hardy abridged)
*1998, USA, W W Norton (ISBN 0-393-04674-5), pub date ? October 1998, hardback
*1999, UK, HarparCollins, (ISBN 0006512119), pub date 20 September 1999, paperback
*1999, USA, W W Norton (ISBN 0-393-31979-2), pub date October 1999, hardback
*2000, USA, Thorndike Press (ISBN 0786217480), pub date ? March 1999, hardback (Large Print)
*2000, USA, Thorndike Press (ISBN 0786217499), pub date ? January 2000, paperback (Large Print)
*2001, USA, Soundings (ISBN 1860429392), pub date ? January 2001, audiobook (Audio CD, narrator Graham Roberts)
*2007, USA, Blackstone Audiobooks (ISBN 1433201240), pub date ? April 2007, audiobook (MP3 CD, narrator Simon Vance)
*?, Audio Edition Recorded Books, LLC; Unabridged Audio edition narrated by Patrick Tull (ISBN 1402591802)

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