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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (original 1950; edition 1975)

by C. S. Forester

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2,148463,034 (3.95)86
Title:Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Authors:C. S. Forester
Info:Pinnacle Books (1975), Edition: 3rd Printing, Mass Market Paperback, 270 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:English, 20th Century, Novel, Historical Fiction, Napoleonic Wars, Nautical, War, Adventure

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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester (1950)

  1. 10
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (ktoonen)
    ktoonen: If you can accept the fact that dragons happen to exist, the tone, style, and language make this series a great read-alike for the Horatio Hornblower series.
  2. 10
    Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian (br77rino)

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» See also 86 mentions

English (44)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
An enjoyable read. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
The first in a series, and my first time reading this in a long time. The character, a 17 year old thrust into a leadership position in the Brit Navy during the 18th century, develops as we read. The reader can see the future captain developing. This novel is episodic and really feels like a collection of short stories; development of the future Hornblower? ( )
  buffalogr | Oct 26, 2015 |
A reread for me of one of the seminal books of my adolescence. This book started me on my decades long enjoyment of books about the Napoleonic Wars. The entire Hornblower series by C.S.Forester, the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell, and the Patrick O'Brian classics featuring Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.

This book read almost as good as the first six or seven times I read it, except as I get older, it becomes more difficult to project myself into Hornblower's character, a 17-year-old boy thrust into the brutal hardship of serving in the British Navy in the late 18th century.

Skilled writing, great storytelling, thoroughly enjoyable. ( )
  ChrisNorbury | Apr 17, 2014 |
Summary: When young Horatio Hornblower joins the Royal Navy in 1794, it is not immediately clear that the life of a sailor is for him. For one thing, he's seasick before he can even report for duty, and his inexperience with the naval life is something that's all too clear to his fellow midshipmen. But through a series of adventures (and misadventures), aboard the H.M.S. Justinian and later aboard the H.M.S. Indefatigable, facing down French ships, captured prisoners, Bubonic plague, Spanish prison, and the dreaded test for lieutenant, Hornblower soon finds his sea legs - and his gift for leadership.

Review: I have absolutely no explanation as to why I love the Age of Sail so much… maybe I read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle at exactly the right impressionable age? (Probably a combination of that and the movie "White Squall" and all of its mid-90s cute boy glory catching me square in the teens.) Anyways, I love the Age of Sail (or if we're being less formal, "British boys on boats"), so I of course have watched the A&E Hornblower mini-series many, many times. But I've shockingly never read much of the now-classic source material. I read Master and Commander a long time ago (pre-blog), and enjoyed it, but was a little flummoxed by all the rigging and sail and other shipboard terminology, and I wonder if that didn't scare me off of naval adventures for a while. But regardless, I'm glad I finally tried again, because Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was totally understandable, and quite fun.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is not a novel proper, but a series of short stories detailing the first few years of Hornblower's career. Some of the stories are relatively self-contained, but most of them have some interconnections - what happens in one affects Hornblower's position in the next - and some flow together so much that they seem like one contiguous plot. So the result is a book that is episodic, certainly, but in the way that I would expect a naval life would be episodic. The action, when it comes, is fast-paced and exciting, as well as being relatively easy for a land-lubber to follow. And even though this book was not written first, Forester does a good job of starting Hornblower's character off young, and having him grow and mature as he goes through this book, with his personality and intelligence and honor intact.

So, overall, I enjoyed this book, although I can't say how much of that is based on the book itself, and how much is based on the fact that the book reminded me of the movies, which I love. I wasn't totally enthralled with it - its episodic nature meant that it was easy to put down without being anxious to pick it back up again, and Hornblower's maybe just a little too noble and good at things to be the world's most compelling protagonist. But I'll certainly be reading more, to see how I fare with a full-length novel (and eventually one that they haven't yet made into a movie!) 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I've seen recommendations against starting with this book, since it's short stories, and was written later. I can't offer opinions on that score, other to say that I thought it was a fine place to start, but if you're not already familiar with the character from the miniseries, I can see how a full-length novel might be better. ( )
1 vote fyrefly98 | Mar 6, 2014 |
It was enjoyable for the most part, but it seemed like the author tried too hard to put one action scene after another. A little downtime to get to know the characters is more my cup of tea.

I started the series because I'm a fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, and I'd seen forums in which other fans recommended the Hornblower series as well. Meh. Aubrey/Maturin, hands down! ( )
  wispywillow | Sep 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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C. S. Foresterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rodska, ChristianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A January gale was roaring up the Channel, blustering loudly, and bearing on its bosom rain squalls whose big drops rattled loudly on the tarpaulin clothing of those among the officers and men whose duties kept them on deck.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316289124, Paperback)

The year is 1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Horatio Hornblower, a seventeen-year-old boy unschooled in seafaring and the ways of seamen, is ordered to board a French merchant ship and take command of crew and cargo for the glory of England. Though not an unqualified success, this first naval adventure teaches the young midshipman enough to launch him on a series of increasingly glorious exploits. This novel-in which young Horatio gets his sea legs, proves his mettle, and shows the makings of the legend he will become-is the first of the eleven swashbuckling Hornblower tales that are today regarded as classic adventure stories of the sea.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Horatio Hornblower is only seventeen when he joins His Majesty's Royal Navy as a Midshipman. He's dangerously unschooled in seafaring and the ways of seamen, but he's saved by his quick, mathematical mind and keen eye.... This is where it all begins--where young Hornblower gets his sea legs and shows the makings of the legend he will later become."--Jacket.… (more)

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