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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  7,491 ratings  ·  493 reviews
Here we meet Horatio Hornblower, a young man of 17, in this Volume #1 of what becomes the 11 volume set about the career of this British Naval officer fighting against Napoleon and his tyranny of Europe as an inexperienced midshipman in January 1794. Bullied and forced into a duel, he takes an even chance. And then he has many more chances to show his skills and ingenuitie ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published May 31st 1998 by Little Brown & Co (T) (first published 1950)
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Werner
Both my oldest daughter and her husband are fans of the Hornblower series, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the A & E movie productions that I've seen of the Hornblower corpus; so I was motivated to read the books, and decided to begin at the beginning of Hornblower's career, with this novel. (My only previous acquaintance with Forester was from reading one of his short stories.) I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint!

Forester had a deft hand with maritime adventure (not all of it dealing with comb
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Christopher
Here we have a lad of seventeen, a greenhorn deckhand, who works his way up through the ranks with his determination, grit, and a dash of book learnin': poor, seasick Hornblower, who barely manages to escape with his life from the duel he himself orchestrated, knowing his own inability and lack of experience in combat! Here we have Mr. Midshipman Hornblower of the HMS Indefatigable, unaware of the dangers of a leaky ship with a cargo hold full of dry rice! Here we have the pertinacious, the teme ...more
Jim
My library didn't have this when I started reading the series, so I wound up reading Lieutenant Hornblower, the second book chronologically, before this. There was quite a difference in the two books. Where 'Lieutenant' was pretty much one long story with a short bit tacked on to the end, 'Midshipman' jumps from one short adventure to another like a frog on a hot road, but I liked both. Reading them out of order wasn't a huge deal, although I would have preferred to read them in chronological or ...more
Catie
So, this is actually a prequel, written many years after Horatio Hornblower first took the stage and even after he had become one of England’s most famous heroes. But I’ve decided to read these in chronological order and I’m quite glad that I did.

In this book, Horatio is a very young midshipman (although not as young as the wealthy and titled lads who take up that position). He’s been given his first commission aboard the Justinian, where he immediately becomes known as the midshipman who got s
...more
Mr. Matt
Having finished the first one, I have no idea why I'd put off reading these books for years. This book was great - historical fiction/Ships of the Line/Age of Sail done right!

Mr. Midhsipman Hornblower introduces us to Hornblower. He boards his first ship as a raw, inexperienced and frightened midshipman at seventeen. And the book takes Honrblower and the reader on all sorts of adventures. He engages in a duel to earn his place on the ship. He is given charge (and loses) a prize ship. He visits
...more
Jason Koivu
What a fun rollick with seamen!

Forester "began" his series after he'd already brought the narrative to completion by creating a series of prequels years after writing the first books, sort of like what goddamned George Lucas did with Star Wars. However, in this case the creator's craft had improved. The writing in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower has a better flow to it, so it's funny to get into the middle of the entire series to the previously written books and see the work get stiff and lose that ef
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
The Hornblower books by C. S. Forester are among the iconic novels of the English language, and with good reason in my opinion. I almost gave this a 4 star rating (because of my "stingy" with the 5 star ratings rule. After all 5 is the best you can give...how many can there be? But...)but decided I really do like these books to a 5 star level and they are very well written.

This was not the first Hornblower book...not the first written that is, but it is the first in chronological order in Hornbl
...more
Scott
Oct 27, 2008 Scott rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Scott by: Helene Brown / Dana Cattani
Shelves: ships, regency, 1950s, war
"Hell!" said Hornblower, actually stamping his feet on the upper gangway in his anger. "Hell and damnation!"

C. S. Forester's Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (1950) finds himself all too often frustrated in a "savage, merciless world," where he is "very much alone ... depressed, and unhappy." It's a world where very little goes as Hornblower plans: each adventurous episode nearly ends his career – and his life. The young midshipman tempers his exasperation by relying on his keen, mathematical intellect
...more
Brad
I may have liked this more than it deserved because I read it around the birth of our third child (Katya is two days old as I write this), but whatever the reason, I really had a good time with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.

Better than Cornwell's Richard Sharpe books, but not as good as Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is really a novel of short stories. "Hornblower and the Examination for Lieutenant" and "Hornblower the Duchess, and the Devil" were my two favourite
...more
Chris
In Horatio Hornblower, C.S. Forester created one of the most flawed heroes in military fiction. And not flawed in the "rogue" sort of way, like Richard Sharpe, but in a deeply human way. He does not strike you as a capable military officer; but he is undoubtedly brilliant, and an excellent commander. He is tone-deaf, awkward, shy, self-critical, self-doubting, and even prone to seasickness (something strange for a career naval officer). I think this, above anything else, is what makes him so app ...more
Siria
This wasn't the first of the Hornblower novels to be written, but chronologically it comes first in the series of novels covering his life. For someone who is just coming to the series, this mightn't be the best place to start.

Although you are introduced to Hornblower as a nervous young seventeen-year-old midshipman, the fact that the book is actually comprised of a dozen or so loosely connected short stories means that the flow is rather choppy. If you are coming to the series after seeing the
...more
Soraia
Ainda a investigar a estranha mas fantástica razão pela qual existe um género literário(embora ainda sem nome) de comédia náutica durante as Guerras Napoleónicas. De qualquer modo, a coleção Hornblower é-lhe indispensável. É densa e talvez não pareça assim tão divertida a quem a começa, mas é necessária uma abordagem gozona para realçar o seu génio.

Aqui há uma personagem muito interessante e, apesar de reconhecível e relatable, rara: o protagonista Horátio Hornblower, aqui com 17/18 anos, é o cl
...more
Earl Grey Tea
To be honest, I was fascinating by 18th century European navies when I was a high school student. I found the idea of man-of-wars and frigates hitting each other with cannon fire at close range while marines storm the deck of the opposing ship absolutely thrilling. My father, upon learning of my peculiar interest, bought this book for me to read. I read the it, appreciated it, but found myself having a difficult time getting the through all of the archaic, obsolete and specific naval terminology ...more
Laura
I thought this book was brilliant. Horatio was a nervous, shy, young hero, who accomplished things simply because he sees no other way. Forester described the ways of ship life, and the historical context of the novel very well. I saw the movie first, but I think Forester kept a more consistent characterization of Horatio. Horatio was a realistic 17 year old: he was insecure, and had a difficult time adjusting to the role of a leader. However, he was courageous when he needed to be. The plot was ...more
Stephen
I've loved these books since the first time I read them and return to them again and again. There's just something so appealing about an unlikely hero who's gawky, tone deaf and has almost no self confidence, yet has a morale code that's so strict that it will not allow him to let others down if it's even humanly possible.

I also like the 6 knots an hour pace that they evoke and the mood that they bring up in me.

This book is different from all of the other hornblower novels in that Forester tri
...more
Dree
First, I did enjoy this--much more than I thought I would, certainly. It also piqued my interest in the Napoleonic Wars, which I know very little about. I was constantly using Wikipedia to look up places named in the book to better understand the situations.

But--3 stars. I'm not going to run around telling all my friends to read it.

It's kind of fun, kind of swashbuckling, kind of a really easy read, kind of ridiculous, and kind of a series of short stories rather than a novel. It strikes me as a
...more
Edoardo Albert
There are some eras that just work - in historical fiction books - in a way that others don't. So, we have endless stories of the Roman legions, but few of the English Civil War (although my theory for that is that very few writers today can find their way into the headspace of the Parliamentarian/Puritans). But of all the eras, none has proved itself better suited to books than the Napoleonic Wars: Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books and, of course, but, in ...more
Abigail Hartman
It took me a number of attempts to "get into" this novel, primarily because, having grown up on the Ioan Gruffudd-Hornblower, it was a shock to find how different the original hero was. I still prefer the films, perhaps only for nostalgia's sake; certainly the book is more like a collection of short stories than one contiguous whole, as the movies are. Still, I enjoyed following Hornblower around the navy and into his adventures.
Blake Charlton
at 17 years old i didn't get to run away to sea to fight napoleon's tyranny, but this book was a close second. a wonderful, well-written, ripping sea yarn of classic YA adventure. highly recommended, especially for those who loved the o'brian's aubrey–maturin series.
Lady
After having read "The Ship" by C.S. Forester, and after having noted that many of my favourite books cited the Horatio Hornblower series as inspiration or sources, I decided to track them down and read through them. I understand there are two ways to read them: chronological order, and order of writing. I like a consistent story so I've chosen to read them chronologically. Therefore, I started with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.

Horatio Hornblower is an officer in the British Royal Navy during the t
...more
Shane
The first in the Hornblower series and an introduction to the brave but mercurial hero. Although shy and gangly, 17 year old Midshipman Hornblower is brave despite his inner fears, willing to take incredible risks, is well read compared to his colleagues, is tone-deaf, and honours his commitments even if they commit him to captivity or put him in harm’s way. He embodies the phrase “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”

This novel is a collection of linked short stories showing the
...more
Rachel
The gold standard for historical fiction of the Age of Sail, it's hard to top the Horatio Hornblower series. Chronologically, this is the first, and I highly recommend reading them in chronological order rather than publication order. If you have only seen the A&E series, you are missing much of the brilliance that is the Hornblower series. Although the production was excellent and the A&E films are high-quality historical entertainment, they vary greatly from the original books (althoug ...more
Brett
Having read and re-read the O'Brian canon, I started on The Hornblower books to continue to feed my naval fiction habit. As I understand it, Forester actually wrote many of these books as serial short stories and the books are compilations.

I had a hard time enjoying the first two-thirds of this book. The chapters seemed completely unrelated to each other; no attempt was made at tying the chapters together into a cohesive whole. And I couldn't help comparing the writing style to O'Brian; this boo
...more
Jeffrey
Jul 12, 2010 Jeffrey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Nautical Literature
Okay, the Hornblower novels probably do not rate five stars for literary merit, but I love them! Hornblower is a beautifully developed character, the nautical detail fascinates me, the historical perspective is fairly accurate, and the action is suspenseful.

I know they have their problems (e.g. secondary characters are barely developed at all) but I love these books.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is the first book chronologically. It is primarily a collection of adventures that happen to Hornblower d
...more
Terence
I got a copy of an older edition of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower when my stepmother cleaned out my father and her house one year and it mouldered on my shelf for several seasons before I "broke down" and read it. It was another one of those unlooked-for surprises - very readable, an exciting adventure, and Forester's knowledge of 18th century British naval life and seamanship compares to Patrick O'Brian's.

It didn't sweep me away like Aubrey & Maturin's adventures did (and do) so I've never pick
...more
Dan
I enjoyed this book tremendously. The adventures contained within are well-told, and full of glorious 18th-century British naval detail to the point of requiring a nearby dictionary. I love the young H. Hornblower character who, though he will doubtless change and mature in subsequent books, has a streak of insecurity and self-recrimination to which many of us can relate. It makes me pull for him all the more as a continuous series of harrowing events brings out the best in him, time and again. ...more
David
I'm going to assume that most readers of this book have also read the O'Brian Aubrey Maturin series. I can't say that I like this more or less than the O'Brian novels. While obviously they are similar the main characters are quite different. Another thing I noticed is that there is very little introduction to the sailing terms. If you don't already know your mizzenmast from your foremast you may be in for a rough go for a bit. This novel is also much more episodic than I remember the O'Brian nov ...more
Jarkko
A soon-to-be adult Horatio Hornblower joins the British fleet in this fictional 18th century seafaring novel. I expected adventurous stories from this book and it delivered but this book is much more than just simple adventures in warships. I really liked the very detailed descriptions of boats, harbors and people as well. This made the story feel really realistic in my eyes and I could learn something new as a bonus. The book consists of few connected and quite different stories of (Mr. Midship ...more
Alexis
Jan 06, 2015 Alexis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alexis by: library shelf, Alison
Shelves: classic-lit
Jolly good fun! Exciting and interesting, despite the fact that there were many paragraphs in which I could define only half the nouns.

It was more a series of vignettes of life at sea, rather than a single, linear story arc. I don’t feel like I got a fully fleshed out picture of Hornblower’s character, but heck, we’ve got ten more books to work that out, and I’m definitely game for the next one.
Korey Mae Johnson
Wow! What a rush!

First off, this is not told like the usual story, and anyone that's a fan of the television series will be disappointed because a lot of the clever parts from the series aren't in the book.

However, it is a wild, wild ride. Extremely enjoyable and extremely fast-paced. If you're a fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series, then you'll LOVE this, because it's got a lot of the same elements, where they bring in realism and the dialogue is extremely life-like, like you're a f
...more
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Anyone else LIKE the A&E series - despite the weirdly rearranged plots? 9 42 Dec 13, 2013 12:29PM  
  • The Yellow Admiral (Aubrey/Maturin, #18)
  • Ramage (The Lord Ramage Novels, #1)
  • Richard Bolitho — Midshipman (Richard Bolitho, #1)
  • Sharpe's Triumph (Sharpe, #2)
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)
  • 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)
  • Ship of the Line (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #7)
  • 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)
Lieutenant Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #2) Beat to Quarters (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #6) Hornblower and the Hotspur (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #3) The African Queen Hornblower and the Atropos (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #5)

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“Clairvoyant, Hornblower could foresee that in a year's time, the world would hardy remember the incident. In twenty years, it would be entirely forgotten. Yet those headless corpses up there in Muzillac; those shattered redcoats; those Frenchmen caught in the four-pounder's blast of canister -- they were as dead as if it had been a day in which history had been changed.” 11 likes
“I thank God daily for the good fortune of my birth, for I am certain I would have made a miserable peasant.” 9 likes
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