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NAPOLEONIC WARS > FINAL THOUGHTS - HF - MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER (BOOK AS A WHOLE)

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
***SPOILERS FOR SURE*** ***BEWARE***

Folks, for those of you who have already completed Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, here is a SPOILER thread where you can discuss any aspect of the book and/or for those who cannot stand the anticipation of waiting to discuss other chapters in advance.

How did you like the book overall. Who were your favorite characters or favorite scenes and why? What did you like about the book; what were its strengths and weaknesses?

In fact, this is a thread to discuss any of your final thoughts on the book itself or have expansive discussions which may contain spoilers. Please do not place spoilers of any kind on the weekly non spoiler threads. Spoilers will be deleted from non spoiler threads.

Bentley

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Here is a comment from Christopher:

"No, not in the first chapter anyways. Was actually interested to understand how Hornblower or why Hornblower decided on this particular career."

A man in Horatio's position, son of a professional, though probably not well off, as later episodes revealed, I believe would have had few opportunities in his station, one being service in the army or the navy. Horatio did not have the money to buy himself an army commission, as was mentioned in the episode "The Wrong War", so perhaps being an officer aboard ship was a better choice than being a foot soldier in the army.

As it was mentioned in the movie/TV series, Captain Keene had a relationship with Horatio's father the doctor. Perhaps Horatio had been sheltered until then, and his father was tired of him hiding in his room studying Greek (in "The Duel", when Keene asks Horatio his education level, Horatio states that he is a Gretian, which I believe means that he was studying Greek grammar, after first completing English and then Latin, though his math skills were superb, so advanced math had to be somewhere in the curriculum). To my knowledge, Horatio had not apprenticed in any trade, probably because trades would have been beneath his station, and since he was too poor to buy an army commission, the navy was probably his best option, sweetened because of his father's relationship with Captain Keene.

Anyway, that's my layperson analysis from only watching the TV show / movie.

@Elizabeth S: You are welcome, and I shall continue to participate, since I have watched the series probably 20 to 30 times, though for some reason, I have yet to pick up the books.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
COMMENTS FROM DREE:

I finished this book already (got it from the library, and couldn't keep it long enough to go with the schedule), but don't know that I will really be able to jump into the conversation until I don't have to worry about accidental spoilers :) I am reading the thread.

I found the book generally interesting, but not great. I don't get why this character (Horatio Hornblower) is so well known--I had heard of him, but didn't know he was from a book series. I found the little bits about the war itself--the history!--the most interesting part of the book.


message 4: by Christopher (last edited Jan 29, 2011 10:18PM) (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Bentley wrote: "COMMENTS FROM DREE:

I finished this book already (got it from the library, and couldn't keep it long enough to go with the schedule), but don't know that I will really be able to jump into the con..."


Dree,

Hornblower is a self-made man. Yes, his father probably helped him get on board the Justinian, but it was Horatio who left behind his humble beginnings and made a name for himself. Just look at the titles of the Hornblower books, and you can see that he rose in rank eventually to Admiral... not because he was privileged, but because of his choices and his actions in the heat of battle. He is an officer much loved by his men and much respected by his peers and his superior officers.

The books also paint pictures of the life and times of the fighting men and officers of His Majesty's Navy in a time when virtually all of Europe was against England. Through Hornblower's journey, we see how these valiant men fought against all odds and brought the French and Spanish navies to their knees.

Anyway, just my $0.02 worth as to why some might consider the Horatio Hornblower series perhaps better than interesting.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 5: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 25, 2011 10:49AM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Dree,

I can certainly understand the need to finish the book. I have that "problem" with most fiction books. It is hard to portion it out.

I think part of the draw of the Hornblower saga is the excitement of life at sea during the Napoleon era. It is even exciting enough to spark a whole other series during that same era, and that series has almost twice as many books as Hornblower. (The Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.)

As Christopher said, you can tell from the titles of the series that Hornblower reaches high rank. He actually reaches Admiral, since the last book is titled "Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies." I will admit that Hornblower's brilliance doesn't come through nearly as well in the first book. In later books, he does things like defeat a ship that is twice as large, with twice as many guns. I really enjoy such descriptions of how brilliance helps the underdog win. (I think that example is vague enough that it doesn't spoil anyone on the rest of the series.)

I can also understand that exciting sea battles isn't everyone's cup of tea. And Hornblower's insecurity and self-doubt can sometimes convince the reader he really isn't that great. It is certainly the history part that we hope to focus on, so hopefully that is interesting enough to keep you with us!

(By the way, if you ever want to comment on the non-spoiler threads but aren't sure if your comment has a spoiler, feel free to post it here first or send me a PM and I can let you know.)

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) by Patrick O'Brian Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) by Patrick O'Brian by Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Elizabeth S wrote: 'He actually reaches Admiral, since the last book is titled "Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies."'

I realized my error after writing my post, Elizabeth.

The Napoleonic age is considered to be a romantic period of warfare by some, though some might argue that war is hell, in any period, full stop. Though I think "romantic" in this case hearkens to a re-birth of chivalry, as gentlemen commanded these ocean-going vessels of war.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 7: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Definitely the Napoleon era was romantic in a broader sense than we usually think of now when someone says "romantic."

If you want, Christopher, you can go back and edit your post(s) anytime. Just use the little "edit" link that is next to the reply button on your own posts.


message 8: by Dree (new)

Dree I guess I was expecting this book to be more than a seeming set of anecdotal short stories. The writing wasn't great, and it didn't excite me at all. Again, the history was what I found interesting--I read up on the Peninsular Wars on wikipedia because of this book. But it really struck me as a book a 14-year-old boy would really like.

I got the impression that he was pressed into service, or had to go to fulfill some sort of debt or requirement set by someone else.

But, generally, I am not a fan of war books, especially ones that focus on the battles. I much more enjoy books that look at the relationships between the people, the history behind the situation, and how the two work together to create the events.


message 9: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Dree wrote: "I guess I was expecting this book to be more than a seeming set of anecdotal short stories. The writing wasn't great, and it didn't excite me at all. Again, the history was what I found interesting..."

Not having read the book myself, I can suggest that you might enjoy the movies a bit better, as they are more character-driven and are written for an adult audience.

Cheers!

Christopher


message 10: by Veronika (new)

Veronika  Sprague (veronikasprague) Yeah, Dree, like Christopher suggested, I would watch the movies. I've only seen one of them, and they don't follow the books exactly, but they're excellent as far as character development. Ioan Gruffud nails Hornblower's character, really making him come alive.

I can definitely understand getting bogged down with the details of the battles and all the ship mechanics...I was too when I first read it. But...this is my second time reading MMH, and I actually find myself catching more of what's going on, and loving the characters' movements so much that I don't mind a bit of ambiguity with the mechanics.


message 11: by Elizabeth S (last edited Feb 02, 2011 02:59PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I can understand how the book would not excite you, Dree, especially if you don't enjoy the battles. I will admit that I enjoy reading about battles, especially when the focus is on the strategy and tactics rather than gory blood-and-guts. I am surprised, though, that you were unimpressed with the writing, because I thought it was excellent. Perhaps that is a matter of taste as well.

The adventure part would definitely be enjoyed by a 14-year-old boy, but I would rather phrase it as 14 and up. In rereading the book I'm noticing even more nuances and subtleties that delight me, and that I'm sure a teenager would completely miss.

You might find you enjoy the other books in the series better. I think MMH is the only one that uses the mock-short-story routine. Plus Hornblower's character is more developed as he ages, so there is more to examine in that area. For example, Flying Colours takes place almost entirely inland. There are a lot of interesting and, uh, rather intricate relationships. Only near the end is there stuff at sea and battles. But maybe the whole series is still too much war for you. I'd guess that there are books you love and that I find boring. Good thing we can still share and discuss!

Flying Colours by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

And as for me, i enjoyed reading this book not only because of Hornblower's battle adventures but as well as the main character's depth.

I like how he earned his job promotion and freedom by his own convictions of going through all those hardships but actually doing the right thing instead of the other way around. I also like how his character seemed to appear 'cool' because he didn't act boastful about himself and his talents but rather he tried to let others see for themselves and discover for themselves his own skills and potentials.


message 13: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments I thought it was a good book - I liked it a lot and appreciated the support of the members of the club - I found that the transition of Hornblower from teenager to young man was accomplished rather smoothly as the story progressed. I found the long gaps of no story ok but it is as if we missed some of his growing.
Are we going onto the next book together?


message 14: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Rein wrote: "And as for me, i enjoyed reading this book not only because of Hornblower's battle adventures but as well as the main character's depth.

I like how he earned his job promotion and freedom by hi..."


I agree, Rein. I think my favorite parts are the battle adventures, and the clever ideas Hornblower gets for working through something. I think it is refreshing to see a character who takes the high road, but still has weaknesses.


message 15: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince wrote: "I thought it was a good book - I liked it a lot and appreciated the support of the members of the club - I found that the transition of Hornblower from teenager to young man was accomplished rather..."

As far as going on to the next book together, that partly depends on if there is demand for it. If there is a decent sized group of interested people, I don't think there would be a problem. It might be something of an issue to overlap with the continuing read through the Aubrey-Maturin series. The books have very different characters, but cover a lot of the same history.

If only a couple of people want to continue with Hornblower, we could talk to Bentley about a series of Buddy Reads. I've been working my way through the series on my own and enjoying the books, but it would be fun to discuss them with others.


message 16: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Which of you have read other Hornblower books, and who has not? I've read a number of others from the series, now, and I'm curious if any of you have any predictions of how you think it'll play out. Obviously Hornblower has a successful career (since the last book is titled "Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies"), but do you think he'll have family? Get prizes and become rich? Make friends and/or enemies?

Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 17: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments I have read no others of the series

The only other Forester book I have read - I think is

The Gun The Gun by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester

Long Long ago and it was great!!!!!

(but I was younger - ) (little sea vocabulary needed as I recall)


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Vince, great recollection about the book but you need book cover, author's photo and author's link. You have two out of three

The Gun by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 19: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments That looks like a great book, Vince. I'll have to keep my eye out for it (local library doesn't seem to have a copy). I am thinking to read the African Queen, after I'm done with the Hornblowers.

The African Queen by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Elizabeth S wrote: "Which of you have read other Hornblower books, and who has not? I've read a number of others from the series, now, and I'm curious if any of you have any predictions of how you think it'll play ou..."

actually this is my first time reading a book included in Hornblower series. and i quite like it...if time permits i think ill read other C.s. forester books in the future..happy reading ;)


message 21: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Rein,

When you do read the other Foresters, let us know what you think. I've really enjoyed them. Happy reading to you, too. (Although isn't reading, by definition, a happy event? lol)

By the way, if you can take a minute to introduce yourself in the group's Introductions thread, then others can start to get to know you. Here's the link:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/9...

If you have any questions or need help finding your way around, be sure to let one of us moderators know.


message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Elizabeth, I am still catching up but you have done a fine job with this book and series thus far.

Thank you.


message 23: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments You are certainly welcome. Anyone who is still catching up, please feel free to comment anytime on any of the MMH threads. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


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