Book: The Hundred Days by Patrick O'Brian

As good as the others in the series

Patrick O'Brian
The Hundred Days
W. W. Norton, 1998
ISBN: 0-393-04674-5
281 pages

I have written before (1, 2) about books in Patrick O'Brian's series of historical novels about the British sea-captain Jack Aubrey and his friend, the physician, naturalist, and intelligence agent Stephen Maturin. The books are set during the Napoleonic wars and this is the nineteenth of the twenty-book series (plus one book that was left unfinished at the author's death).

Little really needs to be said here. Fans of the series will not be surprised that the book is as good as the previous eighteen. And no one would start the series here. If you think you might enjoy mostly-naval nineteenth-century adventure that's written beautifully, get a copy of the first book, Master and Commander, and expect to become a fan.

As the book begins, it's 1815. Napoleon has escaped from Elba and is contesting Louis XVIII's rule of France. Jack and Stephen are aboard H. M. S. Pomone and Jack is the commodore of a seven-ship squadron that's arriving at Gibraltar. Our adventure this time involves preventing a shipment of gold from crossing the Mediterranean to help Napoleon. But before that, they're to run up the Adriatic coast and make as much mischief as possible in the shipyards that are building and refitting ships for Napoleon. And before that there are a few indiamen to see safely to England.

The book, like the whole series, is exciting, entertaining, and, at times, very funny. A buddy has pointed out to me that I should mention that the books are narrated in a style that's closer to the English of the era they depict than to today's English. I've read so much of that sort of writing that I hardly notice it (which is why it needed to be pointed out to me that I should mention it) but it is a bit obtrusive to some.

Posted: Wed - November 12, 2008 at 07:59 PM   Main   Category: