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Will Belford

Captain Hornblower by CS Forester

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I'm astonished to find no thread about CS Forester's classic 'Captain Hornblower' series. Have I missed something?

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I have to admit, although I recognise the character name, I've never heard of the books. Can you tell me a bit more about them?

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A few months back, when I suddenly found myself in the mood for something a bit different to read, it was a choice between Forrester's Hornblower and O'Brian's Aubrey.  I went with Aubrey, but I will definitely get to Hornblower some time.  I love the Gregory Peck movie version. 

 

Is it best to read them in publication order, or in chronological order?  I looked at this list and noticed that the story dates jump around a bit :smile:

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It's probably the definitive naval fiction series, certainly one of the best. I too love O'Brian (onto my fifth iteration of the series now, this time through Audible), but Forester's stories are much shorter and more intense, and the character of Hornblower is one of the classics of the hero tormented by his sense of duty and his station in life. These are real ripping yarns and Forester's powers of description are incredible: he can pack more plot, colour and background into two pages than O'Brian could get into two chapters. These books are firmly in the 'can't put down' category, I've read them ore time than I can remember and still get a kick out of them.

 

As for order, the first books actually written were the 'Captain Hornblower RN' trilogy, featuring The Happy Return, A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours (I have my father's 1940 second edition). The Young Hornblower series came later, as did the later books (Commodore, Admiral, etc). Starting with the Young Hornblower series is probably a good idea, simply because you can. Forester wrote a lot of other books too, one notably good one being 'The Gun'.

 

Karsa, I notice you're reading Scott Lynch, great stuff!

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Karsa, I just looked at your list and find there are some I haven't read yet! O happy day!

 

If you're starting from scratch and in for the loing haul I'd go by the story dates in the second column; if you want to try it first, read the three 'Captain Hornblower RN' stories I mentioned in my last post - they're probably the best ones.

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It's probably the definitive naval fiction series, certainly one of the best. I too love O'Brian (onto my fifth iteration of the series now, this time through Audible), but Forester's stories are much shorter and more intense, and the character of Hornblower is one of the classics of the hero tormented by his sense of duty and his station in life. These are real ripping yarns and Forester's powers of description are incredible: he can pack more plot, colour and background into two pages than O'Brian could get into two chapters. These books are firmly in the 'can't put down' category, I've read them ore time than I can remember and still get a kick out of them.

 

As for order, the first books actually written were the 'Captain Hornblower RN' trilogy, featuring The Happy Return, A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours (I have my father's 1940 second edition). The Young Hornblower series came later, as did the later books (Commodore, Admiral, etc). Starting with the Young Hornblower series is probably a good idea, simply because you can.

  

Sounds great, thanks for the info.  I shall definitely give them a go soon :smile:

 

 

 

Karsa, I notice you're reading Scott Lynch, great stuff!

 

 

Yes, I enjoyed it a lot - finished it a week or so ago  (my 'reading now' entry was out of date . . . ) :D

 

 

Karsa, I just looked at your list and find there are some I haven't read yet! O happy day!

 

If you're starting from scratch and in for the loing haul I'd go by the story dates in the second column; if you want to try it first, read the three 'Captain Hornblower RN' stories I mentioned in my last post - they're probably the best ones.

 

Glad I could help :giggle2:

 

I think I'll give Mr Midshipman Hornblower a go, then.  Just when I was starting to reduce my TBR pile :doh:  :lol:

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An excellent choice, you won't regret it. How's 'Best served Cold' turning out? Sounds amusing.

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I've never read the books, but the ITV series they did a few years back was pretty good.

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My Dad introduced me to the Hornblower books when I was still at school.  Loved them and have re-read some of them since.  However, there are some other great books by C S Forester, not least of which is The Afican Queen.

Edited by SueK

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How's 'Best served Cold' turning out? Sounds amusing.

 

It's a fantastic book  :smile:

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I personally enjoyed the first couple Hornblower novels, but after that it began to pale for me in comparison to the Aubrey-Maturin books. The writing seemed antiquated and, quite frankly, Hornblower as a character became less likeable.

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The series on TV was amazing, I have seen it again recently too I think on Youtube.

 

How does the book series compare, as much as one can compare a book to a visual presentation?

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I have five more to read. Midshipman Hornblower is a good one. It is the first one chronologically, but about the sixth one he wrote. He made the same mistake as Patrick O' Brian in starting Hornblower's career too late and ran out of Napoleonic War time to set his adventures.

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I came to Hornblower late in life, although I was familiar with the Film adaptation, and had seen two of the TV series episodes. I loved them! I got hold of the entire collection and read them from 'Mr Midshipman Hornblower' through to the later ones where he is Captain and then Admiral. Great stuff.

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