Horatio Hornblower

Back in the day—circa 2003—I discovered a book series by Patrick O’Brian. It is called the Aubrey-Maturin series, named after the main character, a British Navy captain in the Napoleonic era and his good friend, the ship’s doctor. I first became aware of said series after seeing an excellent movie based on these novels. The movie is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It’s so much better than the drivel they pass off as movies nowadays (but that is a subject for another blog post).

Anyway, I spent about two years reading all twenty of the Aubrey-Matruin novels (I never did get a chance to read the unfinished twenty-first book, sadly enough). They weren’t easy to get through, as the writing can be dense and confusing, but I persevered. By the time I finished, I was a bit tired of Patrick O’Brian’s writing style, but I had developed a lifelong love of the Napoleonic era.

The whole time I was reading the Patrick O’Brian books, I kept seeing reference to a series by C.S. Forester about a character named Horatio Hornblower, also a Royal Navy captain during the Napoleonic Wars. Forester’s books were written before O’Brian’s and were allegedly the inspiration for the Aubrey-Maturin saga. Alas, I took a long break from fiction about the Napoleonic era and didn’t get a chance to check out C.S. Forester’s books—until now.

Dear readers, these books are fantastic! I really love them. I’ve devoured four of them already. The one I just finished today, Commodore Hornblower, even has the advantage of taking place in Russia for most of the book, which is great. And this is the Russian Empire, which as you may know, is basically my favorite thing ever. Forester’s writing is a lot less turgid than O’Brian’s, which makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. I like the character development and all the nautical descriptions and historical delights and all the other goodies present in this series. Seriously, these books are great fun to read.

After I schedule this post to be published, I think I’m going to go start on the next book in the series. See you in a little while—I’ll be traveling at sea (vicariously) as I read!


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