The year is 1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Horatio Hornblower, a 17-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 11 swashbuckling Hornblower tales that are today regarded as classic adventure stories of the sea.
©1950 C. S. Forester. All rights reserved. (P)2011 AudioGO
After listening to this I immediately downloaded Lieutenant Hornblower. I mainly listen to audiobooks when exercising at the gym. I find exercise boring, and am always looking for books that will hold my attention. I think the Hornblower novels read by Christian Rodska may be my best find yet. Forester is, of corse, a wonderful storyteller. The novels aren't especially profound; but they're not shallow. Characterization is excellent, and the gritty historical detail throws you into the world of the British navy circa 1800. The narration is simply superb. The voices fit the characters perfectly. The only thing I can imagine some people not liking about the book is the heavy use of nautical jargon--but personally, I enjoy that too, even if I don't always fully understand what it means.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is book 3 in the series written in 1950, book 1 The Commodore was written in 1945. Forester went back in time instead of forward. Forester was the pen name for a prolific writer Cecil Louis Troughton Smith. Beside the Hornblower series he wrote The African Queen in 1935 and Hunting the Bismark in 1959 both were made into movies. In this book Hornblower is an ungainly 17 year old midshipman new to the sea. He goes from one adventure to another. I got a laugh about the French merchant brig that was captured and Hornblower was assigned to take it to Britain as a prize ship. It was loaded with rice and had taken a canon ball below the water line. The rice got wet and started to swell. I could just picture the ship being torn apart by all the rice. The book has adventure, suspense, sea battles and humor. I love sea stories about the British Navy circa 1790 to 1810. If you like sea stories you will enjoy this book. Christian Rodska does a great job narrating the book.
The Hornblower novels are old friends. It was a pleasure to meet them again, so ably performed. There was not a single jarring note in the narration, and the story was as stirring as I recall. My plan is to work my way through the series, and based on this first listen, I anticipate many hours of enjoyment.
Believable, entertaining, and even educational, giving a richly detailed glimpse at a way of life and war now long gone.
Hornblower. Who else?
Adventure, Honor, and Excitement aboard His Majesty's Navy in the age of sail.
The narrator was brilliant, as good as any I have heard. He didn't overwhelm the story, faded into the background until you forgot he was there; an excellent job.
A Compelling story coupled with some top notch narration makes this a great listen. I would recommend this book to any friend, French or English.
This was one of the best books on British Naval challenges during the Napolionic era. It was entertaining, and very well performed. I have read the O'brian "Aubrey/Maturin" series and found this book much better.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower ranks easily among the top five books I've listened too. Excellent listen.
When he decided to duel his officer tormentor, determining to live or die rather than go on in such circumstances.
Great personalization, great accent, great feeling.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This is classic adventure on the high seas, and C.S. Forester’s crisp, spray-tossed depiction of the Napoleonic-era British navy seems hard to beat as a standard-setter. Our hero here is the gawky, 17-year-old midshipman Horatio Hornblower, whose intelligence, persistence, and daring, if not social confidence, mark him for future greatness (of course, there are many more novels in the series). Being young, he makes mistakes, but he learns valor, honor, compassion, and a few lessons about human nature. Through his eyes, we see how 19th century military life works (or doesn’t) in the empire that ruled the waves; the varied assignments, routines, and hardships of the British navy; and a little about the rest of the world at that time.
This particular book, my introduction to the series, isn’t really a novel, but is divided into a series of separate episodes. In each mini-adventure, Mr. Hornblower encounters some aspect of naval duty, ranging from capturing enemy vessels, to going ashore and supporting land forces, to warding off the deadly attacks of fire ships. He faces some challenge, rises to to the occasion, and manages to save the day, if not always perfectly. The opening chapter, in which he contrives a daring, ingenious solution to a shipboard bully, is riveting. By the midpoint of the book, though, the formula becomes a little repetitive, and few of the other characters persist beyond an episode or undergo much development. Perhaps there’s more complexity to other books in the series.
Still, there’s enough variety to the scenarios themselves, and I enjoyed myself. The history feels well-researched and authentic, albeit in a PG-rated way, and the writing is brisk, full of sensory details, and a little humorous. Christian Rodska’s dramatic audiobook narration more than does it justice. I would also add that, as a science fiction fan, I can see the influence Forester had on that genre. A bold captain? A complex ship and a multi-talented crew? A few salty characters? An enemy empire to keep an eye on? Hello, Star Trek.
This is the first book in a series which I first discovered when I was in junior high. Since I lived in a rather isolated small town and our local library only had two or three of the books in the series, I had to wait impatiently until I went away to college to get the rest of the series. It was well worth the wait.
I have listened to both this entire series and also the Aubrey-Maturin series, and while there are many points of similarity between them, I like this one better.
Forester did not write the series in chronological order. The first book he wrote in this series was “The Happy Return” (That is the name it was published under in England; in the U.S. it was named “Beat to Quarters”) I know another reviewer here has said the that the first book was “The Commodore,” but I have consulted Wikipedia and a couple of other sources online, and they all say, “The Happy Return.” However, he went back over time and filled in the gaps in the chronology, and I have always read them in the order Audible presents them here.
There are five short stories about Hornblower which Audible does not have. I doubt that audiobooks of them were ever made. However, they are available on Kindle in a book called “Hornblower Addendum”. If you are interested in reading them in the order they fall in in the series, consult the Wikipedia article, “Horatio Hornblower.”
David Weber credits this series as the inspiration for his Honor Harrington series. Like Weber, Forester writes a ripping good action scene. And I have been assured that he did a good job with his research so that the historical details are authentic.
C. S. Forester wrote many novels other than the Hornblower books. The majority of them were never made into audiobooks, and when I checked a few years ago, most of them were out of print. However, many of them are now available on Kindle, and I recommend them to you. I have read two of them recently enough to be able to recommend them particularly: “The Good Shepherd” (about an American ship captain during World War 2) and “Captain from Connecticut” (about an American ship captain and a British ship captain around 1814).
I consider this one of the best series I have ever read. I recommend it to you.
Not as deep or involved as the Jack Aubrey series, but certainly more entertaining and adventursome. I thought it was going to be another (boring) period tale, but really liked it and will pick up other titles in the series if they go on sale.
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