Napoleon escapes from Elba, and the fate of Europe hinges on a desperate mission: Stephen Maturin must ferret out the French dictator's secret link to the powers of Islam, and Jack Aubrey must destroy it.
Napoleon, escaped from Elba, pursues his enemies across Europe like a vengeful phoenix. If he can corner the British and Prussians before their Russian and Austrian allies arrive, his genius will lead the French armies to triumph at Waterloo.
In the Balkans, preparing a thrust northwards into Central Europe to block the Russians and Austrians, a horde of Muslim mercenaries is gathering. They are inclined toward Napoleon because of his conversion to Islam during the Egyptian campaign, but they will not move without a shipment of gold ingots from Sheik Ibn Hazm which, according to British intelligence, is on its way via camel caravan to the coast of North Africa. It is this gold that Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin must at all costs intercept. The fate of Europe hinges on their desperate mission.
In Algiers, Maturin navigates the violent currents of oriental politics and braves a desert journey that ends in a moonlit lion hunt high in the Atlas Mountains. Aubrey's quarry is a swift xebek of the Algerian corsairs: through the Straights of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic, he chases them to a bleak and apparently impregnable fortress island.
Boldly conceived and brilliantly executed, The Hundred Days is Patrick O'Brian's most ambitious book yet, and surely one of his most rewarding. He succeeds in grafting his familiar, ever compelling principal characters to an historical event of tumultuous significance: the final defeat of Napoleon. The result is entertainment, excitement, and an intriguing exercise in "what if . . ." history, all encompassed in a magnificently rounded and complex work of fiction.
The Hundred Days
The sudden rearmament that followed Napoleon's escape from Elba had done little to thin the ranks of unemployed sea-officers by the early spring of 1815. A man-of-war stripped, dismantled and laid up cannot be manned, equipped and made ready for sea in a matter of weeks; and the best vantage-points in Gibraltar were now crowded with gentlemen on half-pay who with others had gathered to watch the long-expected arrival of Commodore Aubrey's squadron from Madeira, a squadron that would do something to refurnish the great bare stretch of water inside the mole -- an extraordinary nakedness emphasized by the presence of a few hulks, the Royal Sovereign wearing the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, and a couple of lonely seventy-fours: no stream of liberty-boats plying to and fro, almost no appearance of true wartime life.
It was a wonderfully beautiful day, with a slight and varying but reasonably favourable breeze at last: the sun blazed on the various kinds of...
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