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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.

4 of 4 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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. 😊

2 of 2 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great!!

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent narration of a middling Sea story

after Hornblower's "insanity" induced raid of the French vessel, I could hardly stay focused on the book I was rolling my eyes. to have strength from crazy fighting if a trope that's cool once for teenage fiction, but the midshipman hardly can stand out against masterpieces like the Aubrey Maturin series characters or, to mention a kind of a Navy in a different setting, Halo's naval combat action. The even chance was the best part and downhill from there.

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Great story, immersive experience

Reading this story is a great experience for immersing yourself in the time period, naval life, and the wholesome ideals of honor and bravery that were popular in literature at this time.

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Outstanding performance!

While the book is clearly outstanding, the performance of the reader brings the entire story to life. And incredible job with a variety of voices, accidents, dialects, etc. I was shocked when the book ended as it seemed to flyby under this incredible dramatic reading. Anxious to begin the next in what I am sure will be the complete series for me. Well done sir, well done!

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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!

2 of 2 people found this review 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

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tialdpod
  • 01-04-19

Enjoyable story

Enjoyed the stories, because that's what they are a number of stories in the life of Mr hornblower. Great for listening while driving!

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  • Will Bale
  • 11-25-18

Spot on narration

I've wanted to read some Forester for a while. I don't have a lot of time or always the attention span to sit and read books of historical fiction but can listen to them on the move instead. The narrator succssfully brought all of the characters within to life with the various accents he employed. It made for more enjoyable listening.

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  • Nile_Etland
  • 11-14-18

Brilliant

A classic novel introducing one of the greatest fictional heroes, read outstandingly well by Christian Rodska.

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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 !!!

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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.

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  • davidr17
  • 07-26-18

Exciting book

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable story well performed and made in a professional way.