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And so begins my dive into the Hornblower novels

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower - C.S. Forester

For me the Horatio Hornblower novels have always occupied the space between books that I wanted to read and books that I didn't care to. It was there, and I had encountered it in some of its adapted manifestations (such as the Gregory Peck movie from the early 1950s) and so was familiar with its basics to know that I might like it, but I was never interested enough to give it a try. Then while perusing a used bookstore during a trip I came across a copy of the first book in the series in their clearance section. As I was less-than-gripped by the book I was reading at the moment, I decided to give it a try.


Midway thorough the first chapter I was hooked. Part of it was that it proved a fun read, living up to the series' reputation for swashbuckling adventure. But what won me over was C. S. Forester's characterization of the main character. In this book Horatio Hornblower is no assured hero whose every decision is the correct one, but an insecure lad of seventeen who is embarking upon a career filled with dangers. Seeing how he encountered problems and then worked out how to deal with them made for much of the fun; though I knew he survived (he had nine more novels in which to swash his buckle, after all), how he did so kept me turning the pages. The structure of the novel also helped, as its chapters function as interconnected short stories, with a brisk pace and quick resolution before moving on to the next adventure. It all made for a quick read, and, having finished it in a day, I plan on moving on soon to the next volume in the series (which I'll continue reading in the chronological order rather than the order of publication). I may have been neutral on the series before, but no longer.