Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Ship of the Line” as Want to Read:
A Ship of the Line
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Ship of the Line (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order #7)

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  5,308 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
May – October 1810

The time is May, 1810, deep into the Napoleonic Wars. Hornblower, newly in command of his first ship of the line is on his way to Spain with a ragtag, brutish crew. All their seamanship and all of Hornblower's ingenuity are demanded when the "Sutherland" takes on four French men-of-war.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 1st 1969 by Penguin Putnam~mass (first published 1938)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Ship of the Line, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Ship of the Line

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mike (the Paladin)
I read many of these books years ago and have started reading the ones I missed...or don't recall all that well, "chronological order". That is as Hornblower's life progresses.

Here Captain Hornblower is in command of his first *ship of the line.


*Note: A ship of the line was a war ship of at least 2 decks of guns. It was called a "ship of the line" from the tactic or strategy of running "your" ships in a line across the stern of the enemy thus allowing "your" **broadside to be fired into the rea
...more
Jim
May 27, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm tempted to take away a star for the cliff hanger ending, but otherwise it was as good as all the others. As a captain of a ship of the line, 74 guns, Hornblower has plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff. Lots of action.

While the manning of ships has been mentioned before, a special point is made of it this time. The gov't didn't give Hornblower enough men any more than they provided uniforms or many other things. They simply expected the captain of the ship to properly crew his ship, al
...more
Jamie Collins
Re-reading the Hornblower books. I don’t like this one quite as well as Beat to Quarters. It’s an interesting read, and the naval stuff is fascinating, but this is terribly bleak.

It begins with Hornblower desperate to get away from the wife he dislikes, grumpy because Lady Barbara got married, and depressed because he can’t legally kidnap enough men to fully man the miserable ship he now commands. There’s a cheerful (if bloodthirsty) section in the middle where he harasses the French along the S
...more
Basicallyrun
Dec 20, 2011 Basicallyrun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-of-sail
It's good to see that the amount of bare flesh on display in the TV series is based firmly in book-canon. I feel like Hornblower and the Eighth Doctor would get on well, what with their carefree attitude to nudity. (Yes, I am focusing on the important parts of the book, dammit.)

One day I shall make a graph with 'Chronological Progression Through Hornblower Series' on the X-axis and 'Urge to Give Hornblower a Slap and a Damn Good Talking To About Personal Relationships' on the Y-axis. Then I sha
...more
Bakunin
I can still remember the first line from the novel, even though probably 22 years have passed since I first became acquainted with the novel. My father used to read these Hornblower stories to me as a child and in looking back, I feel an urge to revisit those heroic tales of bravery from a far distant time.
This was one of the first works he read when he was growing up (along with the works of Jack London) so it has probably played a part in forming his world view. I too am drawn to this picture
...more
Nick
Nov 30, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-of-sail
I might have written before about the fascination I have with the sailing ships of a bygone age, but reading this book has rekindled my wonder at the mastery of the art of naval warfare as it was practiced in the so-called "Age of Sail". Again and again I am awestruck at the huge accumulation of knowledge required to command a single ship effectively, and how worthless individual lives seemed to be when ships faced off against each other in combat at sea. This particular novel is an account of H ...more
K.
Dec 10, 2011 K. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: naval adventure lovers
Initial fyi: my main purpose in reviewing these books is not with adults in mind, but for the parents or adult friends of reading children.

While this is full of adventure and amazing action, I am finding that so far I like the books in the series that were written later, rather than earlier. This was the 2nd Hornblower book written and it follows the precedent of "Beat to Quarters"...a little more violent and in my opinion Hornblower is allowed to dwell too much on his feelings for a certain som
...more
Nancy Ellis
Jun 01, 2015 Nancy Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I certainly am learning more about the Napoleonic Wars than I ever knew I wanted to know!! Already 17 years going, the French still have control of the coast of Spain. Hornblower is now under the command of Admiral Leighton....not the brightest crayon in the box.....who also happens to be the new husband of Lady Barbara, Horatio's flame. Horatio still has the hots for her, even though he has vowed to remain faithful to his wife Maria, who of course is pregnant again. Understandably, Horatio is h ...more
Beth
A typical rollicking read in the Hornblower series.
In charge of his own ship, Hornblower needs to prove himself and do something with a grossly understaffed boat.
It’s odd that the author, to show how “modern” Hornblower in effect is, has him resorting to whippings only with reluctance, having no faith, but keeping up appearances for the good of discipline, and having a daily bath. He then makes two casual racist references in the course of the story which sort of jump out and hit you in the face
...more
Andrea
Jun 09, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hornblower is so hilarious as a character. He is so stoic and sharp on the outside, yet terribly self-conscious on the inside. He literally thinks his next steps out in his head to appear more badass than he actually feels. Adorkable ain't the word!
Katrina
Dec 12, 2016 Katrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would and I'll read more from this series.
John Gribbin
A middling Hornblower, both in terms of his career and quality of story. Forester has a penchant for getting his hero off the ship and on to dry land to fight battles (as if Sharpe suddenly took command of a ship and raced off to fight a French frigate), and in this one he gets him on to dry land to fail to fight a battle, in one of the dullest sections of the entire canon. Compensated for by two lovely (and lively) bits of action at sea. As others have warned, though, this is only half a book, ...more
Will Todd
Oct 17, 2011 Will Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hornblower
This review is for the complete 11-book series of THE HORNBLOWER SAGA by C.S. Forester, which I just finished reading last night.

[Note: Individual books have individual star ratings (mostly 5-star, a few 4-star), but the descriptive review will be the same for each, and encompass the entire series, as follows.]

Actually, I just finished reading the complete series for the second time, the first being as a teenager some 30 years ago.

It's remarkable to me that I have only just this moment realized
...more
Greg Deane
May 06, 2013 Greg Deane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Ship of the Line” by CS Forester is more than a swashbuckling tale of adventure in the Mediterranean. Here. Horatio Hornblower enters into command of a third rate battleship as a senior post-captain, on HMS Sutherland. The loneliness of command is now full upon him. He is willing to take his part in the Napoleonic Wars in an old, unweatherly 74-gun ship with a crew of 600 or more and a group of lieutenants each with his own problems that interfere with his ability to carry out his duties object ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 09, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in July 1998.

Re-reading A Ship of the Line is like encountering an old friend; it must be getting on for twenty years since I last read any of the Hornblower series. I was prepared for the book not to appeal, or not to match up to the other Napoleonic navy novels I've read in the meantime.

I was more impressed than ever, and it has become clear why Forester set the standard that every historical naval writer has had to live up to since. He does not ignore the
...more
Mike Franklin
This book is a million miles away from my more normal preference for Science Fiction and yet I was extremely impressed by it. I came to it from my love of David Weber’s Honor Harrington books which openly acknowledge their debt to Forester and Horatio Hornblower, and I was not disappointed. This was a well-paced naval adventure that has the reader cheering Hornblower on along with his crew. Okay, so the reality that such a humane and considerate naval captain could even exist in those days of fl ...more
Jennifer
Jun 01, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on other reviews, this might not have been the best Hornblower novel to make my first. I found the main character fascinating even in the things that made him annoying--he's astonishingly vain in the sense of ALWAYS being horrifically aware of the image he's presenting. Is he being commanding enough? Do the men respect him? Is he cutting exactly the right kind of figure? His dislike of his wife is based almost entirely on a feeling that she's not properly elegant and impressive for a capta ...more
K.M. Weiland
Feb 07, 2013 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a rip-roaring naval adventure from start to finish, no mistake. But I also find it one of the most problematic in the Hornblower series. For one thing, the action seems much more episodic (and, as a result, much more easily resolved) than in previous installments. But the big concern is that Hornblower is perhaps at his most unlikable in this book. His deeply flawed character has always been one of his most intriguing aspects. But here, he crosses the line into self-absorbed whining, IMO ...more
Clay Asbury
Love the Hornblower series, started reading them in the same order as the BBC/ITV series which I had really enjoyed. Although this book tells the story of Capt. Hornblower as a middle aged man, it was written well before the books about Horatio as a young lieutenant and midshipman.

Ironically, one gets the impression that as Forester grew older he passed on the wisdom and humility he acquired to the younger Hornblower. Although, I liked this book, the character of its central protagonist is more
...more
Robert
Dec 14, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-17-season
The book is still well written, entertaining, and informative, but wow is Hornblower much more of a bastard than I remember from my first reading 20 years ago. Dismissive contempt for his most loyal lieutenant combined with constant pining for a married woman and scorn for his loving wife make him thoroughly unlikable.
Natalie Keating
Jan 19, 2017 Natalie Keating rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book! I am greatly enjoying this series so far. In this one, Horatio Hornblower and his ship (it's a ship of the line, hence the title) must blockade and otherwise wreak havoc along the Spanish coast, which is partially under Napoleon's control. Oh, and there's a massive cliffhanger at the end, so make sure you have the next one handy or you'll be in suspense...
Angie Bollard
Mar 20, 2008 Angie Bollard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great Hornblower book. As Andy would say. Dude could write.
Joe Johnston
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heidi
Dec 03, 2016 Heidi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Horatio Hornblower is in command of the ship, Sutherland, patrolling Mediterranean waters for the French enemy in this nautical adventure set early in the 1800s. Plenty of technical shipping terms in this novel - probably too many for me. I think I need to just gloss over all the names of the rigging etc and just immerse myself in the story. Enjoying getting to know Hornblower and the novel certainly leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the next instalment.
E
Mar 22, 2017 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent naval adventure. Good battle scenes. Good non-combat nautical scenes (one long and memorable such scene involved near-hurricane winds, a tow rope, two ships, and dangerous cliffs--does it get any better than that?). And even some interesting land-based conflict (thank heavens for the marines). Hornblower knew what he wanted to do with this book, and he did it well--one cruise, captivating scenes, good buildup, very surprising finale. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I'm very m ...more
The other John
A cliffhanger? He ends the book on a cliffhanger?? Arrrgghhh! Anyway, Ship of the Line is the sequel to Beat to Quarters. Captain Hornblower has returned from his assignment in the Pacific Ocean and is assigned to the the HMS Sutherland, a ship of the line in Admiral Leighton's squadron. After his many months alone in the Pacific, Hornblower chafes a bit at being part of a squadron under the Admiral's direct orders. But Hornblower still finds opportunities for adventure, striking blow after blow ...more
Chris
Sep 18, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic fiction.
Rick
Sep 29, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: naval-tall-ships
C.S. Forester is well known for his series of books on fictional Royal Navy captain Horatio Hornblower. Between 1937 and 1967 Forester would publish 11 volumes, and do it much in the fashion of the Star Wars stories. Forester published “Beat to Quarters”, “Ship of the Line”, and “Flying Colours” in 1937 and 1938. While this was publishing numbers 1, 2, and 3…since Forester went on to publish prequels and sequels…it ended up chronological numbers 6, 7, and 8. Similar to Star Wars, these first thr ...more
Tim
Nov 04, 2013 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-fiction
Not the best of the Hornblower series, but entertaining enough in parts. Strangely enough, I enjoyed the beginning and end the most and found the middle to be rather unremarkable.

The opening chapters deal with Hornblower's troubles in getting his ship ready to sail and for some strange reason I actually enjoyed these chapters. It also deals rather briefly with his relationship with his wife, but it's mostly about his struggles in getting his ship ready to sail, and his inner doubts about how th
...more
Larry
Apr 23, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Horatio Hornblower novel. (Actually, it’s I think it’s the second he wrote but I have been reading them in chronological order.)

I originally thought these were kids books – probably because of the old Gregory Peck movie. (Young adults would certain enjoy them. They are very well written.) Reading the thoughts of this Captain – a leader of men, a warrior, a tactician, etc. – is fascinating

His ship, the HMS Sutherland was captured from the Dutch and now in the Royal Navy. It’s rather unga
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Letter of Marque (Aubrey/Maturin, #12)
  • In Gallant Company (Richard Bolitho, #5)
  • Ramage & the Freebooters (The Lord Ramage Novels, #3)
  • The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower: A Biography of C. S. Forester's Famous Naval Hero
932179
Cecil Scott Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith, an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of adventure and military crusades. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, about naval warfare during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen (1935; filmed in 1951 by John Huston). His novels A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours were jointly awarded t ...more
More about C.S. Forester...

Other Books in the Series

Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #1)
  • Lieutenant Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #2)
  • Hornblower and the Hotspur (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #3)
  • Hornblower During the Crisis (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #4)
  • Hornblower and the Atropos (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #5)
  • Beat to Quarters (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #6)
  • Flying Colours (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #8)
  • Commodore Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order #9)
  • Lord Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order #10)
  • Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #11)

Share This Book



“I did not ask for objections, but for comments, or helpful suggestions. I looked for more loyalty from you, Captain Hornblower.'

That made the whole argument pointless. If Leighton only wanted servile agreement there was no sense in continuing...”
9 likes
More quotes…