Thursday, July 19, 2007

Horatio Hornblower

When I was a young lad, which was about a million years ago, my favourite sea adventures were the adventures of Horatio Hornblower, the hero of C.S. Forester’s series of the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

Horatio joined the Royal Navy at the onset of the Napoleonic Wars and rose quickly through the ranks from midshipman to Admiral in a series of books. Each book detailed an adventure at a different setting: English Channel, West Indies, coast of Africa and of Spain. There are enough happenings to satisfy a boy’s sense of adventures: sea battles, mutiny, plague, fire, love, and fighting on land.

C.S. Forester (1899-1966) wrote 11 Hornblowers novels and he died writing Hornblower during the Crisis which was published posthumously. His other works include The African Queen, The Barbary Pirates, The General, The Good Shepherd, The Gun, The Last Nine Days of the "Bismarck," and Rifleman Dodd.

Back Bay's editions of the Hornblower novels are numbered according to the chronology of Hornblower's life and career, not according to the sequence in which they were written. The series is comprised of the following titles:

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Lieutenant Hornblower
Hornblower and the Hotspur
Hornblower During the Crisis
Hornblower and the Atropos
Beat to Quarters
Ship of the Line
Flying Colours
Commodore Hornblower
Lord Hornblower
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies

The series is rivaled only by Aubrey–Maturin series of seafaring novels by Patrick O'Brian and the Richard Sharpe series of land warfare by Bernard Cornwell.

So it was with great joy that I discovered and bought the collected edition of Horatio Hornblower movies. There were altogether 8 made-for-television movies filmed between 1998-2003. Watching it took 13 hours 20 minutes! It brought back good memories even though the later movies did not follow the novels accurately. Naval battles; where ships of the line sail alongside each other and let loose with their 105 cannons! What more could a man wants.

Except maybe the collected hardcover novels of C.S.Forester about Hornblower so that I can reread the adventures again!


  1. I randomly picked up a Hornblower book several years ago, loved it, and instantly read the rest in the series. They're all a pleasure to read, but I was never able to decide which I liked best. UnSpun by Amazon just launched a list for people to vote on asking exactly that question though. I hope that whatever answer is arrived at there helps me make a decision.

  2. hi Josh,

    For me it's Ship of the Line. No question about it.