Mr Midshipman Hornblower

Narrated by: Christian Rodska
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (931 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

The first episode, initially created as a prequel, of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series, sees 17-year-old Horatio as he embarks upon a navy career aboard HMS Justinian. Older than most other seamen training to become naval officers, Hornblower is initially ridiculed for his dull attitude and inexperience at sea. However, against all odds, Horatio rises to become an unlikely hero and faces a myriad of challenges aboard the ship and on foot in native lands. Set in January 1794, Hornblower works alongside his fellow officers, eventually rising through the ranks to battle against Napoleon as he tries to conquer Europe.

In this episodic audiobook, Forester treats listeners to ten chapters with self-contained incidents and adventures. From duels to shipwrecks and Spanish galleys to French ports, we follow Horatio as he becomes a formidable man of the sea. Adding depth and feeling to the narrative, he also comes to see the atrocities of war and the often unfortunate and needless suffering of the many who are involved. Whilst showing himself to be brave, principled and ingenious, Forester's hero is singular in his unrelenting feelings of self-doubt and reserve, which render him a more likeable and relatable leader and protagonist. Commended by the San Francisco Chronicle as 'one of the great masters of narrative' C.S. Forester wrote 10 other books in the Hornblower series, all of which can be found at Audible.

Narrator Biography

Christian Rodska is an English television and voice actor best known for his role in the 1970's series Follyfoot. From The Monuments Men and The Eagle of the Ninth to The Likely Lads, Z Cars, The Tomorrow People, Coronation Street, Bergerac and Casualty, his extensive and diverse acting career has led him to become a highly solicited radio and audiobook narrator.

He has now voiced over 150 unabridged audiobooks including Winston Churchill's biographies, Evelyn Waugh's Men at Arms and Sebastian Faulks' A Possible Life. He has been praised for his ability to vary in vocal pace and style and as such, Christian boasts 12 Earphone Awards from Audiofile Magazine.

©1950 C. S. Forester (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars

Narration brings classic to life

The narrator handles the different characters very well - both male and female - and his pacing gives energy to these classic maritime tales.

6 people found this helpful

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First rate historical fiction

I was introduced to this series by a friend after I read the Master and Commander series, which is also fantastic. This kind of a beginners level of historical naval fiction but is more than worth the time. I highly recommend this series for those interested in historical fiction.

4 people found this helpful

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A lesser known classic- still GREAT!

This is a story of character growth- mistakes, temptation, pride all subjugated in favor of the greater good, of self mastery. Human triumph! And all at sea during war-time 150 years ago. 😊

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful!

The best reading of a book I've ever heard. A real pleasure. Better than a movie or a play.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book

Great story, great narration. Well done. Hornblower was the first James T Kirk! I highly recommend this book to all who like adventure!

2 people found this helpful

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Great!!

If you are ready for adventure this is the book to listen to! The hours will flyby.

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good old-fashioned adventure story

Thoroughly enjoyed this adventure story. As much fun for grown-ups as older kids. looking forward to the next adventure of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.
Christian Ronska is an excellent narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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Tall ships

If you like old sailing ships and wonder what it was like to be in the royal navy then this is a good series.

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Riveting

A true page turner, wonderful read! Rodska does a fantastic job of putting you right on the ship.

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Fantastic sea story!

loved it, fantastic story. I will most definitely continue the saga of Hornblower. highly recommended.

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  • Ben
  • 01-13-17

Absolutely superb!

A really brilliant book and quite different from the ITV series. Considering this is only the first one as such I am really looking forward to the rest and highly recommend this one to anyone full stop!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-08-18

Brilliant

I've never read a Hornblower novel but loved the tv adaptations so thought i'd give the audio books a go and boy am i glad i did
This book the 1st in the series sets up all the main characters beautifully and then leads you by the hand through rollicking adventure after rollicking adventure narrated expertly by the wonderful Christian Rodska ( by far my favourite narrator )
I loved this book so much i have purchased the next 2 in the series and cant wait to be transported once more back 2 centuries to follow the trials and tribulations and of course glorious triumphs of the eponymous hero
Brilliant !!!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Nephrite
  • 02-18-20

Hornblower’s Beginnings

Mr Midshapman Hornblower by C.S Forester

Talking about the Hornblower series like this came somewhat out of left field for me. Despite being a big fan of learning and especially with regards to history of all kinds, historical fiction leaves me cold. The only exception to date proved to be the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell which I had been listening to in chronological order from Sharpe’s perspective as opposed to publication order. When I mentioned this to somebody recently they recommended I give the Hornblower series a try as it is somewhat similar albeit focusing on the Royal Navy.

I decided to try it during a Christmas period sale on Audible and don’t regret it at all. The first book begins with Hornblower as a seventeen year old midshapman. Understandably being seventeen he is incredibly nervous albeit clearly quite intelligent. He seems to be far too intelligent for most teenagers these days and yet far too emotional at first to not be one! His shipmates slowly start to take to him – especially after a few games of Whist – with the exception of a somewhat vindictive man called Simpson.

The book is definitely full of interesting characters and adventures. The French captain somewhat focused on his cargo of rice, the high-ranking officers testing Hornblower on his Lieutenant’s examination and a somewhat unusual upper-class lady all come to mind.

However the book can have a few negatives depending on your opinions and tastes. Firstly despite the excellent narration by Christian Rodska who is well respected in the field of audio, his accents for the Spanish and French can be extremely broad. The easiest comparison I can think of is an audio where all the Scots would sound like Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons.

I understand that a large part of that is down to how they were written. This book did come out originally in 1950 after all so one has to make some allowances when reading or listening to it nowadays. Tied into that is the use of very out of date and offensive language when referring to certain groups as well as the treatment of one character who seems to have some form of mental health issue. I won’t say which as I simply wish to avoid putting my foot in my mouth if it turns out I interpreted the character incorrectly.

For obvious reasons this can make the audiobook somewhat of a hard listen if you have a low tolerance for such things. However I wouldn’t consider that a failure of the audiobook per se. That is more of an issue of the period in which it was written. Plus it’s set during the 17th century so there is that as well. Personally if the audiobook removed the aforementioned problematic parts I wouldn’t quite know how to react. It would strike me as similar to the censorship of Mark Twain and other such authors to create ‘school appropriate’ versions of the books in American schools. Pretending it never existed wouldn’t mean it actually never existed.

Despite all this I consider this audiobook enjoyable enough if you have a fondness for historical fiction or naval stories. Hornblower certainly seems like a likeable enough character given the period and he has more than a few capable characters alongside him. The story is both written and narrated well making it easy to follow the flow of the action. There were more than a few times where I lost track of time due to being too invested in ship battles and various forms of naval chicanery. I do wish however – as I mentioned in the last column on sound – that there had been some inclusion of ocean sounds such as waves crashing against the ship in storms and the like, maybe even include a sea shanty or a naval sounding tune but I understand such things have their limits. Even Audible couldn’t afford a twelve pounder cannon to be fired I’m sure!

In conclusion the story may have more than it’s fair share of issues to modern ears but if you enjoy naval stories or if you can get in the right mindset it is rather easy to get swept up in the adventure. I’m certainly more than willing to give the second book in the series a try. Although probably not for a while.

Sayonara!

Nephrite

6 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 10-21-18

A Warm Breeze Blowing in From the Past!

It's hard to believe that a series that is itself over eighty years old feels as fresh and vibrant as this does. For sure it is choppy or as the blurb describes it "episodic" so it lacks some of the sophistication of more recent historical fiction but it's a fine adventure. What's more it's noticeable how many of Hornblower's adventures have been used repeatedly by later authors.

There are none better to spray the old sea salt over your ears than Christian Rodska. He is fantastic at these maritime tales, his voice oozes the atmosphere of naval adventure.

A very enjoyable and nostalgic trip back to one of the books I read in younger days.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Ranganathan
  • 10-17-18

Great story brilliantly told

Along with Anton Lesser, Christian Rodska is my favourite audiobook performer, he captures each characters voice brilliantly.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Howson
  • 11-22-17

Excellent story, beautifully narration

It never ceases to amaze how different the original book can be from film or television adaptations. In many ways the book is far, far better.

The narration was excellently delivered. It enriched a very enjoyable novel.

3 people found this helpful

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  • AC
  • 09-18-15

Swashbuckling adventures!

I love these tales - lively, humorous, poignant and very entertaining! Glad that Audible UK finally has them!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Ian R Hames
  • 06-22-15

Stirring from start to finish

Thanks to the TV series the early Hornblower novels are quite well known. This the first in the series is a stirring read, full of action and colour. The performance is very good. On to the next book

3 people found this helpful

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  • Matsumoto
  • 05-23-15

Exceptional

My favourite in the Hornblower series of books. Well read by Christian Rodska, who clearly has a genuine interest in naval fiction and naval history. Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jan
  • 03-16-20

short stories about Horatio Hornblowers adventures

light 'reading' quite evokative and interesting. Easy to swallow historical fiction. lots of seafaring tales of Horatio Hornblowers rise through the ranks.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Agent Simr
  • 05-19-20

Brilliant

Just wish there was a boxset for the entire collection so I could listen to the whole series.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-19-20

Decent historical adventure well read

Good historical adventure novel, but one that suffered from its episodic style, which caused a lack of consistency. It's redeemed by some pretty thrilling battle scenes.

The narrator was amazing, and put on each accent very well. Overall it was an enjoyable listen - definitely worth the $3.00 I paid for it.

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  • Alfergus
  • 05-25-20

A ripping yarn!

Tales of courage and adventure on the high seas narrated expertly throughout. I was kept enthralled!