Admittedly, I haven’t quite finished this series yet, but I would say it is one of my favourites. I always want to read on after I have finished the last word – read the next book, to be at sea again.
The Hornblower series is my favourite. It’s special to me because it’s about the sea, and I love every swash-buckling second of Forester’s prose, the humanity, the conscience of the characters. Hornblower is a solid man, but at the same time more human with every book he appears in.
Here is a review I wrote for Goodreads about the latest Hornblower book I read, The Happy Return:
Another winner from Forester. His first Hornblower book is presented with flair and compassion. Hornblower has never been such a human in the skin of an other-worldly entity – harsh, but only because he needs to succeed, for others, as well as himself – it is after all, his duty: ‘They love him not for anything he does or says, but for what he is.’ (p.212, Bush)
Beneath his lion like front he faces as much insecurity as the next man – the thought of mutilation – or indeed, of hair-loss – makes him sick. Forester guides the reader through Hornblower’s physical and mental struggles at sea on the Lydia. The battle scenes are, heart pounding episodes which made me smile with the thrill: the more emotional scenes and information at the end of the book are just as moving as the destruction of a ship, the blood running on the decks.
As always, there is humour to be found among the canon shot and splinters – ‘Almost at his feet lay young Clay, sprawled upon the deck, but Clay had no head. [Hornblower] noted this as an interesting phenomenon.’
Forester likes to include snippets of the century they were in and this lends to a deeper and more believable narrative: ‘There was a madman called Wordsworth of whose revolutionary opinions in literature Hornblower had heard with a vague horror.’
Again, I may be biased, but this book was spectacular, and I cannot wait until I am back at sea with Horatio Hornblower.
Reading Forester is something I enjoy thoroughly – to be at sea with Hornblower again is all I think about, when I’m missing the Island and haven’t seen the island since Christmas.
It is also a fantastic television series, with the ever so tasty Ioan Gruffudd. I imagine Gruffudd’s Hornblower when I read the books, except that he’s a lot more stern, hard and mean within the pages.
Writing like this really makes you appreciate the amount of work and dedication that goes into a series. Hornblower is a fantastic representation of a man who follows his duty. I haven’t read other naval historical fiction, but after reading about Hornblower’s adventures, I can’t see how a man like William Lawrence, of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, was taken seriously as a naval captain during the Napoleonic wars.
I love Hornblower so much I was even considering writing about it for my final year dissertation.
There are several series I have considered for this chapter, including the obvious Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Another fantastic series, in which I only have one book left, is Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines. The sheer amount of imagination is truly fantastic, and although the books are aimed at children, adult themes resonate throughout.