I just finished Patrick O’Brian’s The Hundred Days, the nineteenth book in the only series of books Ron Swanson will read. Over nineteen volumes, stories change, the heroes now in one of the Seven Seas, now in another. But some things you can count on. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, of course, are always there. Their music is always there. Jack may get assigned to different ships now and then, but Surprise always has a way of coming back to him. Yep, no matter where fate, stock prices, Napoleon, and the Admiralty take the captain and his friend, you know anytime you pick up a Master and Commander book you’re going to encounter some familiar elements.
But in book 19, O’Brian suddenly kills off one of Jack’s loyal crewmembers, a favorite minor character who’s been there from the very beginning. I don’t want to give too much away, but the actor who played him in the movie also played a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings. What?! How can you kill Pippin?!
Well, the novel does deal with the end of the Napoleonic wars. The title refers to Napoleon’s brief escape before his final defeat at Waterloo. So once the historical plot motivator ran its course, the series had to start moving toward its inevitable end, and I suppose that means some characters have to die. At least the hobbit dies in action before the reader’s eyes, though; another prominent secondary character dies in a second-hand report. I guess that’s the old-fashioned Greek way, but still it’s not satisfying. I’m reading the twentieth installment (the last complete book in the series) next week, so I should probably prepare for more sudden deaths. Oh! I hope Killick isn’t in for a violent end!