In this gripping tale of turmoil and triumph on the high seas, Horatio Hornblower emerges from his apprenticeship as midshipman to face new responsibilities thrust upon him by the fortunes of war between Napoleon and Spain. Enduring near-mutiny, bloody hand-to-hand combat with Spanish seamen, deck-splintering sea battles, and the violence and horror of life on the fighting ships of the Napoleonic Wars, the young lieutenant distinguishes himself in his first independent command. He also faces an adventure unique in his experience: Maria.
Lieutenant Hornblower is another great sea adventure that takes place mostly underway to the West Indies — Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) in particular, where, under command of an insane captain who suffers a debilitating accident and is thankfully confined to his quarters for the duration leaving the ship in command of the rather dull-witted first lieutenant, they suffer at first a defeat, but swiftly followed by a resounding victory which was thanks almost entirely to Lt. Hornblower. Read the book to see what happens next!
Basically they're my babies and I love them.
I believe "Lieutenant Hornblower" is my favorite book in the Hornblower Series. I suppose with Lt. Bush involment in the story he made the story more personal than the other books. It's a super sea story and I would gladly reacommend it to my friends.
C.S. Forester created a superb naval drama that gave me an inside look at the life of a sailor serving in the Royal Navy on the wooden war ship Renown. With Hornblower, and his companion Bush dealing with their befuddled Captain and fighting off the attacks by the
I believe this is one of the best books in the Hornblower series and I would encourage anyone with an eye for historical novels to check this series out.
These are the conditions under which Lieutenant William Bush, which fans of the series know as Hornblower’s lifelong friend, joins the complement of the Renown. In a departure from the style in which the rest of the series is written, this book is actually told from Bush’s perspective. This ingenious device is played to particularly good results, allowing not only to better understand how other people actually perceive Horatio Hornblower, but also because it allows a plot element to which Hornblower is thought to be privy to remain mysterious.
When his paranoia leads Captain Sawyer to believe that Midshipman Wellard, a 12 year old boy, is undermining his authority in the eyes of the men, he has the boy severely beaten, which leads the officers, Lieutenants Buckland, Bush and Hornblower to doubt his sanity and ability to command.
While looking for mutineers on the lower deck, Captain Sawyer mysteriously falls down to the hold but lives, if only worsened by his fall. When it is determined that Captain Sawyer is unfit to resume command, it is expected that an admiralty hearing would await them in Jamaica to look into the removal of Captain sawyer. It is agreed by all that it would be best to pull into port with the successful execution of Sawyer’s orders than simply come ‘home’ with their tail between their legs and go under scrutiny with nothing to show. Under the command of the competent but utterly indecisive Lieutenant Buckland, the captain’s orders for action at Santo Domingo are therefore read and executed.
This adventure is brimming with action and features “black bloody mutiny”, the usual ship battle, the land raid of a spanish fort and an attempt to overrun the ship all the while exploing the mysterious events around Captain Sawyer’s suspicious fall. This second entry in the Hornblower series is vastly superior on all accounts to the ‘first’ and is a must read to anyone who likes a good suspense.
[It it of note that there is a reference to "the irish incident" near the begining of the novel. This 'incident' is recounted in the short story "The widow McCool", which while it happens somewhere between "Midshipman" and "Lieutenant", it was actually published much later in 1967, included with the final and unfinished "Hornblower and the crisis". The short story features also Lieutenant Buckland and a sane Captain James Sawyer.]
Lieutenant Hornblower is the second book chronologically, and the friend who recommended these to me when we were both in high school told me to at least start with the third book, the story of Hornblower's first command, Hornblower and the Hotspur. The first two books are outliers in their different ways, and I think both benefit from getting to know Hornblower (and Lieutenant Bush) first, then seeing how he got the way he did.
This was the seventh Hornblower book Forester wrote, and he says in The Hornblower Companion he was interested in how Hornblower came to marry his wife Maria, and what led to his promotion as Commander. From The Hornblower Companion, page 156:
If ever... I were to write about Hornblower again, and deal with this portion of his life ending in his marriage, it would be desirable--necessary--to write from another angle... Someone had to observe Hornblower's future wife more objectively than Hornblower himself could be expected to. For that matter it was time that Hornblower himself was put through an objective examination.
So this is the one book in the series not from Hornblower's point of view, but rather from Bush, who'd serve with Hornblower in the future. And yes, I own The Hornblower Companion--and knew just where to go to find that quote. Because ultimately, I did become quite a fan of the series--and was able to better appreciate reading about this period in his life after reading some of the other books.
Bush is great, a straightforward, unpretentious officer, not a witty thinker, but a great seaman and a great judge of character. It does create some continuity errors to have him serving with Hornblower so early in both men's careers (Bush was clearly not used to Hornblower when posted as his first lieutenant some five years after this in Beat to Quarters), but I liked Bush, and it's neat to see what Hornblower looks like from outside his own head. Hornblower in Mr. Midshipman was a pretty ordinary guy if somewhat tightly wound, but here we see the beginning of the kind-of-neurotic Captain Hornblower of the earlier novels. It's a good plot for an outside perspective, too, since there's a significant mutiny component, and Forester uses the shift in perspective to create some ambiguity about Hornblower's actions.
This is one of my favorite Hornblower novels. You might view the long bit at the end regarding Hornblower's card-playing as extraneous, but if you do, you've misjudged the plot. The plot isn't the adventures of HMS Renown; the plot is these two men becoming life-long friends in an entirely understated way. It's gloriously reserved but utterly true, one of the best friendships in literature. Even if before this book it didn't exist in books set later!
(Side note: David Warner is such good casting as Captain Sawyer in the tv adaptation that ten-plus years after I last saw that episode, I could still imagine him saying all of Sawyer's lines as I read the book! The literary Hornblower is not quite Ioan Gruffudd, and the literary Bush not quite Paul McGann, so I never imagine those actors reading the lines, but David Warner is the character as written.)