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

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  5,081 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
May 1810, seventeen years deep into the Napoleonic Wars. Captain Horatio Hornblower is newly in command of his first ship of the line, the seventy-four-gun HMS Sutherland, which he deems "the ugliest and least desirable two-decker in the Navy List." Moreover, she is 250 men short of a full crew, so Hornblower must enlist and train "poachers, bigamists, sheepstealers," and ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published 1999 by Back Bay Books (first published 1938)
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Master and Commander by Patrick O'BrianCourage by Robert    CarterPost Captain by Patrick O'BrianHornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. ForesterH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
Historical Naval Fiction
10th out of 119 books — 106 voters
Taking Chances by Christina PaulMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. ForesterLiberty or Death by David        Cook
Napoleonic War fiction
12th out of 98 books — 119 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 28, 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
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
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
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
Nancy Ellis
Jun 01, 2015 Nancy Ellis rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 03, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
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
Dec 10, 2011 K. rated it liked it
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
Nov 30, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2015 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!
Mike Franklin
Dec 26, 2014 Mike Franklin rated it really liked it
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
Simon Mcleish
Mar 09, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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
Will Todd
Oct 17, 2011 Will Todd rated it it was amazing
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
Greg Deane
May 06, 2013 Greg Deane rated it really liked it
“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
K.M. Weiland
Feb 10, 2013 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2012 Clay Asbury rated it liked it
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
Apr 08, 2016 Murat rated it it was amazing
In my opinion it is the best book of the series
Apr 22, 2014 Erik rated it really liked it
I have never heard the Horatio Hornblower books referred to anti-war books. Therefore I don't believe it was the author's intention that battle scenes came across as effective illustrations of the senseless slaughter that occurs during war.

This was the first Hornblower novel that I have ever read. I have seen some of the movies starring Ioan Gruffudd. As I would expect, I was taken much more deeply into the mind of Hornblower in the novel. His character has many admirable qualities, although my
Julian Cribb
Jul 18, 2015 Julian Cribb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hornblower was the first of the modern genre of Nelsonian naval heroes, and one of the best. Tortured, self-critical, congenitally shy, but a lion in battle, he's an unlikely hero in many ways - but an enjoyable one, with plenty of human flaws as well as military cunning.
These are probably the best books of the series. The Happy Return was the first one Forester wrote and is an interesting study of the problems of command and communication in the days when it took half a year for a letter to rea
May 10, 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
Feb 11, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it
Summary: Hornblower finally gets a big ship to command and knows what to do with it.

Things I liked:

The way the character sizes up the other characters, some people would see this as cheap exposition, but I think it tells you a lot about Hornblowers view of the world and is not just a plot device.

The way the author keeps managing to find new challenges for the character no matter where he is in the chain of command. Not just more of the same.

Things I thought could be improved:

Cliffhangers I
Apr 05, 2016 Kathie rated it really liked it
Shelves: cs-forester
Forester is best when he concentrates on Hornblower as captain. Hornblower loses his charm when he fumbles about in his mind over his love life. He has made his decision. He's allowed a misstep or two, but his honor lies in remaining committed to his decision. That's how he is in warfare, how can he be so fumbling when it comes to this part of his life? But it's such a tiny part of his life - so easy to compartmentalize family vs. ship (almost another family). Is this how it is with all warriors ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Brett rated it it was amazing
This is the second Hornblower book I have read (even though it is seventh of eleven in the series). It follows "Beat to Quarters" quite fluidly. I enjoyed "Ship of the Line" even more than "Beat to Quarters," which is really saying something because I loved "Beat to Quarters." I actually found the action more intense and engaging. I got into the story more than I have any other book in some time. It is masterfully written. It also seemed that Captain Hornblower, while still struggling somewhat w ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Jamagi rated it it was amazing
I honestly can't tell you exactly when I read these, but I can tell you it was during my excruciatingly horrible years of high school. While others were doing the classic high school stuff, I would loose myself in the world of Horatio Hornblower, fighting alongside him against the Napoleon era French troops, against the Atlantic gales, and even the illnesses brought to bear in the stories. I learned a great deal about the Napoleonic wars reading these books, which sparked my interest in all thin ...more
Jan 11, 2014 Shari rated it liked it
Appointed to a commission in a large ship of the line under Admiral Leighton (Mucho Pomposo) who also happens to be the newly married husband of Lady Barbara, much to Horatio's anguish, our hero must first man his new command, a Dutch built ship of shallow draft and rounded lines, not the sharp prowed English ship. Worried about how it will handle, how he can possibly get enough men to man it, and worried about Maria meeting Lady Barbara at a dinner they accepted an invitation to.

This is a tale
Joe Johnston
Aug 25, 2010 Joe Johnston rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie Bollard
Apr 14, 2008 Angie Bollard rated it really liked it
Another great Hornblower book. As Andy would say. Dude could write.
Feb 01, 2016 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
Jul 04, 2015 Tim rated it it was ok
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
Jun 09, 2015 Virginia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-of-sail
Once again, Hornblower shows that he truly lacks a moral compass, doing whatever is expedient regardless of the law or even abstract justice. And the same fixation on appearances and formality, fuelled by a deep-seated fear that he would lose the respect of his subordinates if he were to be his natural self. Everything with Hornblower is a denial of his authentic nature in order to build up a facade of what he thinks a captain (or a gentleman, or a man, generally) should be.

Once you get past the
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  • The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower: A Biography of C. S. Forester's Famous Naval Hero
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)

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“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...”
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