The Hundred Days (novel)

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The Hundred Days
The Hundred Days cover.jpg
First edition cover
Author Patrick O'Brian
Cover artist Geoff Hunt
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Aubrey-Maturin series
Genre Historical novel
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
28 September 1998
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio Book (Cassette, CD)
Pages 352 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-00-225789-0 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 40491462
Preceded by The Yellow Admiral
Followed by Blue at the Mizzen

The Hundred Days is the nineteenth historical novel in the Aubrey-Maturin series by British author Patrick O'Brian, first published in 1998. The story is set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Plot summary[edit]

Commodore Aubrey's squadron arrives at Gibraltar, where Lord Keith updates him on Napoleon's escape and rearmament, and orders him to first defend a convoy of East Indiamen from Moorish xebecs and galleys, and then to proceed to the Adriatic to disarm or destroy several new French ships being built there. Maturin, in a separate meeting, is informed of a plot to send a vast quantity of gold through Algiers in order to fund Muslim mercenaries for Napoleon's army. Although Aubrey's squadron is successful in defending the convoy, one of the squadron's captains is unable to bear the guilt of having necessarily killed so many Christian slaves in the action with the galleys and commits suicide. Aubrey then proceeds toward the Adriatic, stopping off in Mahón along the way. They encounter Captain Christy-Palliere—Captain of the Royalist Caroline, and an old acquaintance—who informs Jack about the French situation in the Adriatic before sailing on to Mahon. Surprise then sails to Ragusa Vecchia where a newly refitted French frigate, under the command of Charles de La Tour—an ardent Buonapartist—is based and they sink it. They then proceed to the Porte di Spalato where they meet another French frigate. Drs. Maturin and Jacob are sent aboard to negotiate 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 bribe disgruntled dockworkers to burn new French ships in dockyards along the coast.

After next reaching Algiers and 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. The doctors are instructed to travel onwards to meet the Dey, Omar Pasha, at his hunting-lodge at Shatt el Khadna. The Dey invites Stephen to go lion hunting with him, where the Dey kills a large lion while Stephen kills its lioness as it attacks the two of them, saving the Dey's life. For this deed, Omar Pasha swears that no assistance will be given to the Muslim plot, and gives Stephen one of his rifles as a parting gift. Jacob then discovers the Vizier has sent a secret message to the Sheikh of Azgar, Ibn Hazm, to have the gold carried by a fast-sailing xebec from Arzila (just southwest of Tangiers), captained by an Algerian corsair via the Strait of Gibraltar straight to Durazzo. The Doctors then learn that Omar Pasha has been assassinated by the Vizier, who privately admires Buonaparte.

The doctors are taken aboard the Ringle, Surprise '​s tender, along with two Irish children 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 their old friend 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, Barmouth'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 Isobel Carrington, Barmouth's new young wife. 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 galley, gives chase. Murad Reis, its captain, fires on the frigate and destroys the second gun of her starboard broadside, killing Bonden, Aubrey's longtime coxswain, as well as Hallam, a midshipman. After a long pursuit, the galley holes up at Cranc (Crab) island, where Surprise and Ringle, unable to follow the galley into the shallow lagoon, block the exit, while one of Surprise '​s guns is hoisted up a cliff, where it can fire unopposed on the galley. The galley's men, seeing the situation is hopeless, behead Murad and surrender.

After returning victorious to Gibraltar, there is some dispute over the gold but Ali Bey is deposed and the new Dey, Hassan, renounces his claim (given that the Surprise was fired on first) in return for the galley 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 story 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.


See also Recurring characters in the Aubrey–Maturin series

  • 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 Villiers Maturin - Stephen's wife
  • Brigid Maturin - daughter of Stephen and Diana
  • Mrs Clarissa Oakes - governess to Brigid Maturin
  • Mrs. Williams - Sophie's mother and Jack's mother-in-law
  • Barrett Bonden - Aubrey's Coxswain
  • Preserved Killick - Aubrey's steward
  • Padeen Colman - Stephen's Irish servant
  • 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 Lord Keith - Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet; replaced by Admiral Lord Barmouth
  • Queeney 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 Ladino, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish; a Cainite
  • 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
  • Heneage Dundas - Captain
  • Sir Peter and Lady Clifford - British consul at Algiers
  • Isobel Carrington - the new Lady Barmouth and Jack Aubrey's cousin
  • Captain Christy-Palliere - Captain of the Royalist Caroline
  • Richard - Caroline's secretary
  • Captain Delalande - Captain of the Cerbere
  • Omar Pasha, a Dey
  • Vizier
  • Murad Reis, a corsair xebec captain


  • British
    • Commodore's squadron
      • HMS Pomone - thirty-eight; Captain Pomfret; replaced by Captain Vaux
      • HMS Surprise
      • HMS Dover - thirty-two; Captain Ward
      • HMS Rainbow - Post-ship; Captain Brawley
      • HMS Ganymede - Post-ship; Captain Cartwright
      • HMS Briseis - a brig; Captain Harris
    • HMS Hamadryad
    • Other
      • HMS Royal Sovereign - Lord Keith's Flagship of Mediterranean Fleet
      • HMS Implacable - Lord Barmouth's Flagship of Mediterranean Fleet
  • French:
    • His Most Christian Majesty's frigate Caroline
    • Ardent - thirty-two gun Buonapartist frigate; Captain Charles de La Tour
    • Cerbere - frigate; Captain Delalande


The title refers to the Hundred Days, a period when Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba and temporarily returned to power in France.

Allusions to deaths of characters in the series of novels[edit]

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. Aubrey's coxswain, Barret Bonden, is killed in single ship action.

Historical and scientific references[edit]

Dr Amos Jacob brings aboard a preserved hand exhibiting what is described as palmar aponeurosis - and now known as Dupuytren's contracture, 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. Wright (a cousin of Christine Hatherleigh) manages to glue the horn back together.

Publication history[edit]

  • 1998, UK, HarperCollins (ISBN 0-00-225789-0), pub date 7 September 1998, hardcover (First edition)
  • 1998, UK, HarperCollins (ISBN 0001055313), pub date 7 September 1998, audiobook (Audio Cassette, narrator Robert Hardy abridged)
  • 1998, USA, W. W. Norton & Company (ISBN 0-393-04674-5), pub date October 1998, hardcover
  • 1998, Recorded Books, LLC; Unabridged Audio edition narrated by Patrick Tull (ISBN 1402591802)
  • 1999, UK, HarperCollins, (ISBN 0006512119), pub date 20 September 1999, paperback
  • 1999, USA, W W Norton (ISBN 0-393-31979-2), pub date October 1999, hardcover
  • 2000, USA, Thorndike Press (ISBN 0786217480), pub date ? March 1999, hardcover (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)
  • 2011, USA, W. W. Norton & Company (ISBN 978-0-393-08851-9), pub date 5 December 2011, e-book