Commodore Hornblower (Hornblower Saga)

by C. S. Forester

Paperback, 2000



Call number




Back Bay Books (1989), Edition: Revised, 343 pages


The newly promoted Commodore returns to the scene of his first naval action - the Baltic. In a gripping adventure in the northern waters, Hornblower must use all his skill and experience to prevent a catastrophic war.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Stevil2001
This is the first book in my reread of the Hornblower series that is not, in fact a reread. Unfortunately, it is clearly the worst of the Hornblower novels, confirming my suspicion that Forester made a mistake at the end of Flying Colours when he gave Hornblower everything he ever wanted:
Show More
recognition, wealth, and love. Hornblower with recognition, wealth, and love is just not Hornblower, even if he does yearn to go to see. Commodore Hornblower is the worst installment in the entire series. Unlike in the first three books, where Hornblower is cleverly making the best out of a bad situation, in this book, he commands a squadron and respect. His situation is actually quite nice! You could do a book about how commanding a squadron brings new challenges, but Forester doesn't; Hornblower seems to settle in quickly, without a problem.

Which is really symptomatic of the whole book. It never feels like anything's at stake. In Beat to Quarters, Forester made you feel like this one ship-to-ship battle was of the utmost importance. In Commodore Hornblower, we're constantly told that the war in the Baltic, and thus the whole war with Napoleon, depends on what Hornblower does. But one never really feels that anything significant depends on Hornblower cruising around lobbing bombs from safety and discovering hors d'oeuvres.

It is interesting to note how Forester pulls back from some of the elements of Flying Colours that were intended to wrap things up. In that book, Bush is promoted to captain, but we're told he'll work in a naval yard on account of his wooden leg. Here, he assumes command of an active-duty ship because, well, what's a Hornblower novel without Bush?

(Delightfully, the title page of my 1981 Pinnacle Books edition gives the title as Commodore Hornblower: Number Eight in the Hornblower Saga, The greatest naval adventures of all time! I love it.)
Show Less
LibraryThing member Richard7920
Due to his exploits in Flying Colors, Hornblower is made a British lord, marries the Duke of Wellington's sister, Barbara, and is assigned as a commodore to ship-of-the-line Nonsuch with an accompanying force of smaller ships. With Captain Bush as his flag captain, the task force sails into the
Show More
Baltic in the summer of 1812, to counter any French moves against Russia. During the voyage into these waters, Commodore Hornblower dines at the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg where he meets Tsar Alexander I and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden. During the siege of Riga, he meets Karl von Clausewitz. As with all the Hornblower stories, this one is both informative and entertaining with a focus on the subtleties of British efforts to bring Russia into the coalition against Napoleon.
Show Less
LibraryThing member buffalogr
Hornblower is called to duty in the Baltic during the summer of 1812 to keep an eye on their French enemies and woo the Russians. Adventures abound. A turning point in his life, mature with far reaching duties, he's successful in the mission. This book is more about the political than the running
Show More
of the ship; an appropriate place and time for him to be. The battles are necessary, but a little tedious...especially the ones fought on the ground. Yes, Horatio finds himself aground for a significant portion of this story. Characters are more about the Russians than the ship's company, including some famous persons in history. as the reader imagines interactions between the fictional RN Commodore and the Tsar, Clauswicz, and others.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Homechicken
I enjoyed this book less than some of its predecessors. In this novel, the war of 1812 is in full swing, and Napoleon's forces are invading Russia. Hornblower is sent to the Baltic as commodore of a small fleet. Most of the action takes place on land, which is probably why I didn't like this book
Show More
as much.

Hornblower travels to Peterhof, near St. Petersburg, foils an assassination attempt by one of his "allies," and deals a lot with foreign generals and dignitaries. Still heroic, but decidedly landbound, Hornblower triumphs, but contracts typhus just as Napoleon's army is fleeing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
Another solid entry in the series. I especially enjoyed the Braun "episode" and the bit about the "camels".
LibraryThing member PaulFAustin
Possibly one of the two best Hornblowers
LibraryThing member iayork
Russian politics and naval strategy: In Commodore, Forester takes our hero to the Baltic Sea to intervene in the war between the Russians and Napoleon. Now on the top half of the Captains list, Hornblower is given command of a small squadron of ships and sent north in as much of a political gambit
Show More
as a naval one. There are no real naval threats to Hornblower's fleet, a few coastal raiders on British shipping, but the one they find is easily dispatched. Forester spends time detailing the use of bomb vessels, ungainly ships with large mortars in the center. They are used to shell and destroy a ship in a harbor and enemy positions on shore. When Napoleon attacks Russia he sends one army north towards St. Petersburg along the eastern most end of the Baltic, and of course Commodore Hornblower is there to save the day and negotiate a switch of sides by the Prussians. It's a little short on naval lore and a little long on period politics. A contrived dalliance with a Russian lady gives Hornblower flees, and then typhus. At the time it was written it was pretty unusual to have an adulterous affair in a fiction of this kind. It gives more variety to our understanding of British Naval operations in another area of the world.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Traveller1
My version was the Gutenberg free ebook. The novel---good fun, a bit chauvinistic, but that is what I expected. Read the entire series 2011/12. Enjoyable, but not sure I will reread soon.
LibraryThing member owenino
I hadn't read this since my teens. It holds up very well, although the plot is less compelling than the four "top" Hornblower novels, Beat to Quarters, Ship of the Line, Flying Colors, and Lord Hornblower. It's continually amusing to follow the interplay between Hornblower's deliberate performance
Show More
as a grumpy, laconic commodore, and the reality that senior command does reshape an officer's personality. O'Brian shows the same evolution in Aubrey--with the difference that Aubrey does not mull or introspect or indulge in self-doubt.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Hornblower was the inspiration for Star Trek's Captain James Kirk, as well as Cornwell's Sharpe. Hornblower is more cerebral and socially awkward than Kirk, more educated and refined than Sharpe. In his own right, Hornblower is certainly an engaging and complex character and the series is an
Show More
interesting study in leadership, and a fascinating portrait of life at sea in the age of sail.

This book catches Hornblower at an interesting time in his life and career--after, seemingly, he's gotten everything he could possibly want. And I admit, at times I was a little irritated with him--particularly when he so casually falls into bed with a Russian Countess. Because yes, here Hornblower is based in the Baltic, and his doings have more to do with navigating politics and diplomacy than weathering a storm at sea or maneuvering for the best position for battle. And I do think the series lost something after Hornblower gained so much in rank and position. I think the best books run from Hornblower and the Hotspur to Flying Colours when he captained ships of his own. Which is not to say this book didn't have it's pleasures--I find all the Hornblower books worth a read--I've loved them since my teens.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
Hornblower commands a mixed squadron that causes "Serious mischief" in the Baltic while Napoleon invades Russia in 1812. Our hero survives an assault by one of the Napoleonic period's chief assassins...typhoid fever, romances a Russian Countess, prevents an assassination of the czar, and has one of
Show More
forester's rare techno-fumbles a very early use of percussion caps ...but it's good fun as usual. Oh, and he saves Riga from the French and watches the Prussians changing sides a real game changer at the time.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
Hornblower commands a mixed squadron that causes "Serious mischief" in the Baltic while Napoleon invades Russia in 1812. Our hero survives an assault by one of the Napoleonic period's chief assassins...typhoid fever, romances a Russian Countess, prevents an assassination of the czar, and has one of
Show More
forester's rare techno-fumbles a very early use of percussion caps ...but it's good fun as usual. Oh, and he saves Riga from the French and watches the Prussians changing sides a real game changer at the time.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
Book number 9 in the saga! As the story started out, I thought it definitely read like a sequel. I envisioned Mr. Forester sitting before his typewriter thinking, "Let's see. I've given Hornblower adventures in the English channel, the Mediterranean, the Pacific. Where else can I have him sail? I
Show More
know! Let's send him to the Baltic!" So Captain Hornblower is made Commodore of a small fleet and spends 1812 attempting to thwart Napoleon's war effort in northern Europe. But the story wasn't just a case of "same adventures, different backdrop". In this novel, Hornblower takes on the role of diplomat, hoping to keep Sweden and Russia from falling to France's armies. There's military action as well, though Hornblower has to face the challenge of fighting opponents on land. All in all it's another entertaining book in the series.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JHemlock
Once again our hero is called into action. Hornblower is now a Commodore and still refuses to keep his hands clean. He proves that he is just as savvy on land as at sea. With the encroaching of the French upon Russia anyone who knows their history can get a sharp visual of what is about to happen
Show More
to Napoleon. Marching into Russia with over six hundred thousand men and loosing 90 percent of them during a retreat from the Russian winter is grim. Hornblower is stoic and steadfast, but yet has an uneasiness even in his later that makes him such a human.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rmagahiz
This installment of the saga shows our hero turning from the dull life of a country squire and back into the fight against Napoleon, this time in the far reaches of the Baltic, and there isn't a dull moment. With an increase in rank he finds himself adjusting to the pomp his new title bestows,
Show More
something new to this man inclined to action rather than appearance, and still he gets in the thick of battle dep enough to have done himself a bad turn by the very end. His hallmark navel ingenuity comes through on more than one occasion, along with the glimpses into his humane and decent spirit in the manner we have come to cherish. The renegade Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz puts in an appearance working for the imperial Russian army, as does the Tsar, briefly, along with a number of well-drawn junior officers and military enlistees. Forester manages to spring a number of surprises for us along the way to keep things interesting and ends the whole thing on quite a cliffhanger.
The audio book narration by Christian Rodska adds something to the tale though a couple of the accents were a little tough to make out the first time. This is the kind of adventure story that makes the hours fly especially if one is fond of the details of the way square-rigged warships worked.
Show Less
LibraryThing member reader1009
Adult fiction. Nautical adventure. I started reading this just to get a feel for the Hornblower books but decided not to finish it. I am sure it is all the things people say it is, at least to those people who are inclined to read such things. Lots of nautical details, some political intrigue, a
Show More
complex hero, negligible female characters.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mbmackay
Hornblower still fighting Bonaparte.
Read in Samoa Feb 2003
LibraryThing member TadAD
Yet another good adventure in the series.
LibraryThing member benkaboo
Summary: Another great Hornblower book

Things I liked:

Historical setting made more interested in Napoleonic history.
Hornblowers reflections and horror of war while at the same time engaging in it.
Hornblower goodness.

Things I thought could be improved:

Ended too abruptly. Quite a few loose ends.
Show More


when hornblower foils the assination plot by slicing the guys hand.
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

343 p.; 8.25 inches


0316289388 / 9780316289382
Page: 0.2715 seconds