Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

by C. S. Forester


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The year is 1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Horatio Hornblower, a seventeen-year-old boy unschooled in seafaring and the ways of seamen, is ordered to board a French merchant ship and take command of crew and cargo for the glory of England. Though not an unqualified success, this first naval adventure teaches the young midshipman enough to launch him on a series of increasingly glorious exploits. This novel-in which young Horatio gets his sea legs, proves his mettle, and shows the makings of the legend he will become-is the first of the eleven swashbuckling Hornblower tales that are today regarded as classic adventure stories of the sea.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316289122
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/30/1984
Series: Horatio Hornblower Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 103,112
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Date of Birth:

August 27, 1899

Date of Death:

April 2, 1966

Place of Birth:

Cairo, Egypt

Place of Death:

Berkeley, California


AlleynGuy's Medical School of the University of London

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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is the prequel to the Horatio Hornblower series. Written as the sixth book chronologically, it covers the very first times when Hornblower served in His Majesty¿s navy. My recommendation is that you read it first, so that you can follow Hornblower chronologically along over his career as it develops. Since much of service aboard a naval vessel is routine, C.S. Forester gives us the high spots of Hornblower¿s first years in the form of short stories beginning at age 17 when he entered the navy. Each story is nicely balanced among the following qualities: Hornblower¿s inexperience; the rapid shift of circumstances that can occur at sea; Hornblower¿s physical and psychological weaknesses and courage to overcome them; the demands of honor; the importance of thinking clearly, getting good information, and making a swift decision; the benefits of discipline; and the brotherhood of all seaman before the dangers they face. Those who are interested in the war between Britain and France after the French Revolution in 1789 will find the material to bring those events to life in a vivid way. I learned a lot about the details of naval warfare as it was conducted then. The weakness of most short story writers is that their plots and resolutions often become overly predictable. These short stories are predictable only in their originality and unpredictability. As such, I found myself drawn forward, wondering what rabbit Forester would next pull out of the hat. This is just the sort of book that I loved to read as a teenager, and I could feel the years peeling off as I raced through the stories. This book would be a wonderful gift to a teenager who likes adventure tales based on historical events. Readers will be reminded of how embarrassing and emotionally daunting it can be to launch off to operate in the adult world at age 17. Unlike many adventure books, Hornblower serves the dual role of hero and morally-inspired man. It¿s too bad that so much modern fiction chooses to develop the action without developing any character in the process. What moral challenges did you face when you were 17? What were the best decisions you made? What were the worst ones? What have you learned from each experience? What would you do differently today, if put back into the same situation? Set an example for yourself that you can be proud of! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise
LoveSeaStories More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the series of Horatio Hornblower (even though Mr. Forester wrote "Beat To Quarters" first) and I thought it was just super. In this story Hornblower is young man just entering the Royal Navy when the British were fighting the French and the Spanish navies. As a young officer Hornblower learns the difficulties of obeying orders. Fortunately, for Hornblower he has the captain, Captain Pellew, that keeps both a stern and kindly eye on him. If want to understand what its really like to be sailing the oceans on a wooden frigate then this is the book for you. Not only do you get educated but you will find Forester's writing style terrific as he explains the ship in detail,its armament and crew while at the same time weaving a great story. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
C.S. Forrester wrote these books in the 1930's about life onboard Brithish Naval vessels in the 18th century. So if you're not at least a little interested in history, adventure stories, or are an aglophile you should probably steer clear of these novels. That's right, with an "s". There are a total of 12 full stand alone novels and some other misc. books of stories as well. All about the fictional career of one Horatio Hornblower (that's right, the BBC mini-series Hornblower). While they could be read as one and dones that's really not very satisfying. That would be lime eating half a bowl of popcorn...who does that?? They work in chonological order moving through Hornblowers naval career, starting with him as a mid-shipman on a British warship. I won't be giving anything away by saying that each book covers the next promotion of Horatio through the ranks as it's, pretty much, he title of each succesive volume. I've now read 2 (out of order accidentally). They are a blast. Each chapter is almost a stand alone story within the greater context of the book. Almost as if it had been serialized in some other puplication before being published as a book. I know this was pretty popular back in the day. C.S. Forrester was obviously the "Tom Clancy" of 18th century naval warfare. You get lots of details on manning and sailing a wooden warship along with weopons and tactics. (Perfect for reading on a nook, you can look stuff up as you want to). There is also a great deal of insight on the incredible hardships sailors endured as part of everyday life. These are facinating, gripping, adventure stories...almost science fiction in can you go wrong with that!!
TeddyOH More than 1 year ago
I've read this series many time's and how that it's in ebook form I'll read them all again and again.....
Gunner1223 More than 1 year ago
Right from the first chapter the character Horatio Hornblower embarks on his naval adventure as each chapter is a story in itself. This book is a fast paced read with a different mission in every chapter. Horatio's inexperience mixed with his high potential create many challenges the reader can relate to. Especially Horatio's fears and anxieties which are always in his mind but must not be known to his shipmates as his leadership is what makes him a successful naval officer. There are many personalities, many distant lands and varied political situations that make this book interesting and gives the reader a chance to learn more about the world and how to adapt to your surroundings. If you enjoyed Patrick O'Brian you will find this a similar tale(s) at a faster pace.
ilvmwf More than 1 year ago
In the genre of Patrick O'Brien's excellent "Aubrey" series, but more action oriented and less character development. If you love sea stories from the Napoleonic wars you will enjoy!
DrBrewhaha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Apparently, Forester's Hornblower is much beloved. However, I could not get into this book and I could not finish it. It is chock full with so much naval terminology that the story was completely buried. Maybe it was just a bad time to try and read this book and maybe I'll try another time. But for now, I will stay away from the 12-volume Hornblower series.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a great fan of the Hornblower series as a whole, which I'd certainly give five stars, but this volume isn't where I'd start even though it's the first chronologically. When a friend recommended Hornblower to me back in high school, he told me to start rather with the third book, published earlier, Hornblower and the Hotspur, where the hero is mature and fully realized. Once you fall in love in that novel with Horatio Hornblower, a British naval officer during the Napoleonic wars, then going back to the beginning of his naval career will hold your fascination and seeing the origins of familiar quirks will bring a smile--in fact all the more if you read more of the later books like the first published, Beat to Quarters, before reading this one. Hornblower was the inspiration for Star Trek's Captain James Kirk, as well as Cornwall'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 interesting study in leadership, and a fascinating portrait of life at sea in the age of sail. This book that follows his exploits as a midshipman is more a collection of short stories than a unified novel and among the weaker books in the series. Even years later though, several of those stories stick in my mind, particular the first one, "Hornblower and the Even Chance."
JohnDiehl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're a sailing buff then Mr. Forester will take you aboard with Hornblower and give you an excellent tale of the British navy and its desire to protect the oceans from its enemies.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sixth published but first chronologically in the Hornblower series, this book covers the very beginning of Horatio Hornblower's naval service from when he was 17 to 20. The book is episodic, each chapter almost its own short story, and I was somewhat surprised by the tell-rather-than-show description of characters in what I knew to be a classic. At the same time, the story was a quick read, funny, and I could see recommending it to someone who wanted a sea-faring adventure to read. Purposely read to broaden my knowledge of the adventure genre, it's not the type of book I would typically choose.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not being a big fan of historical fiction, I wasn't sure I would like a book about sailing during the Napoleonic Wars. Turns out, though, that I absolutely loved this book. It's the first in the Hornblower series and it's a great introduction to the character of Horatio Hornblower. The book is made up of several interconnected short stories that take place over several years. They begin with 17-year old Horatio boarding his first ship, and end with an older, though not always wiser, Horatio captaining a captured French vessel into Spanish territory. What makes these stories so good is how well Forester writes of Horatio's experiences. His writing is so vivid that it's hard not to see yourself by Horatio's side, suffering as he does. I plan to eventually read the remaining novels, especially since this was such a good introduction.
emmerdales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I very much liked this book, though I am still not sure whether or not I liked the way it was set up. There are ten chapters which each serve as a sort of short story or episode. I enjoyed myself while reading the book, but, I must admit, I have forgotten most of what it was I read.
eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book in the Horatio Hornblower series, this book does not disappoint. Plenty of action, plenty of adventure, lots of awesome nautical detail, in addition to plenty of human drama and a dash of humor. Wonderful writing, and it's done in such a way that is almost a chronology of events, and good for folks who only get to read in short dashes of time. Horatio Hornblower is a great character, and one that appears will be fun to watch.
ASBiskey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Hornblower book that I have read. I have read man Jack Aubrey books by Patrick O'Brian, so I was wondering how they would compare. I was pleasantly surprised. I am looking forward to reading more in this series. This book covers the beginning of Hornblower's career, from a seasick midshipmen, to commander of a prize vessel, to prisoner of war. Hornblower demonstrates an ability to analyze a situation and determine the best course of action. Forester includes many of Hornblower's self doubts, including questioning wether it would be better to be dead than to be in his predicaments. I thought that this was an excellent book about an interesting character in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars.
lorax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not the first book in the series. Do not start here.I don't know what Back Bay Books was thinking when they decided to number the current edition of the Hornblower books in chronological, rather than publication, order, but it really doesn't work well in that order. This is one of the weaker volumes in the series, and does not serve well as an introduction. Most of the interest in this book comes from seeing Hornblower's known quirks and mannerisms develop, and if you haven't already been introduced to the character the relevance will be lost. If you react to Hornblower's seasickness with "oh, poor kid, he's so new he's still seasick" rather than with a smile of recognition, you're missing a lot of the point.Unlike the other books in the series that I've read (I haven't read the last few yet), this is episodic, almost reading like a series of short stories that were relabeled as chapters; each chapter is a self-contained incident in the life of young Hornblower. The episodes vary in quality, but the main reason this book is weaker than the rest is simply that there isn't the space for a sustained narrative, and I don't think the genre lends itself well to short stories.
RussBingaman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great naval story.When you start the Hornblower series this is the first book you should start with. In this story Horatio Hornblower is a 17-year-old and he had just entered the British Royal Navy. This story will give you an insight to the life of a British seaman. Hornblower, being at the lowest officer rank must endure many grueling assignments and torments from other higher ranking officers. So, if you are navy buff, and enjoy historical sea stories, this is one of the great books out there to read.
dagwood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First book I ever read concerning British naval history. My only regret is that I never got to watch the series bring this book alive. Oh well, Forester wrote well enough I felt like I was on the ship myself.
patience_crabstick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't call this the best of C.S. Forrester's Hornblower novels, but it shows you Horatio at the beginning of his career, something that you really want to see if you started reading these books in the order they were published in rather than in chronological order according to Horatio's career. Just because it isn't the best Hornblower novel doesn't mean it isn't good, it's just that it's somewhat disjointed, as if each chapter was published separately as a short story, which may be the case--I don't know. Certainly, if you've seen the Hornblower movie, you will want to read this book--the duel is portrayed so much more elegantly in the book than in the novel.
Homechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is _the_ classic nautical adventure story. Forget Treasure Island, you need to read Horatio Hornblower! This first (chronological but not by publish date) book is split into several short stories, each one following on the heels of the other, but separate still. I found it a fun read and highly recommend it to anyone that likes boats or 18th century life.Mr Midshipman Hornblower servers aboard the Indefatigable and has several adventures, captures and is captured by several privateers, etc. Mr. Hornblower rises in the ranks, distinguishing himself above others but still makes mistakes. Like killing a cow a day for 18 seamen over three weeks. Anyway, please read this series, it's a classic.
SerpensLiber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿What can you say about a classic. I loved the A&E recreation and hence came back to re-read them all. This first book moves quickly and enjoyed every minute of it. I could not put it down. The book is historically accurate, and full of action. Hornblower is such an interesting character, because while he is the hero he is never 100% positive of himself. Not a typical American Hero like John Wayne, more of a reluctant hero. I will press on with book #2. Of course the books weren't written in this order, but I have chosen to read them in time line sequence as opposed to publication order.¿
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not the first Hornblower novel ever written, but it is the first in the series chronology. It tells the tale of Horatio Hornblower's first voyages in the 1790's as a midshipman in His Majesty's Navy. Actually, I should say "tales", as the book is more like a collection of short stories rather than a single narrative. While he doesn't quite explore strange, new worlds, Hornblower does have some interesting adventures as he faces the dangers--of both man and nature--on land and sea. It's definitely a keeper.--J.
Napoleonicus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The year is 1793 and Europe is wracked with fire and blood. In France, the king was deposed and the nobles are fleeing the country to escape the guillotine of the hungry new republic. With republican ideas shaking the stability of regimes across Europe, King George has vowed to restore the rightful ruler of France (Louis XVIII, currently in exile in England) to his throne. It is a time of explosive diplomatic relations and the politics of war make for strange allies and friends become foes on a moment's notice.A complete antithesis to the fearless knight in shining armour, Horatio is a timid, frail and sickly young man. A gifted scholar, he would probably have done better following in his father's footsteps and becoming a doctor. This is epitomized by young Hornblower being seasick in the very first pages pf the book -while the ship is still at anchor!- . Not being of noble birth, it probably took all of his father's influence and possibly quite a sum of money to afford his seventeen year old son a warrant as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.This first volume reads more like a collection of short stories than an actual novel, and perhaps it was originally intended to be published as such. Not all the stories have him operating from the same ship. A few plot elements do give a sense of interconnection, but the main point to be observed is that they all feature our hero at the rank of midshipman.The first chapters take him from the daily shipboard life on a man-of-war to the command of a french merchantman which was taken as a prize. He then goes on an education on the responsibilities that come with authority and rank as he earns the respect of both his superiors and the men under his command. Later on his knowledge of the french language (which he learned from his old tutor, an exiled nobleman) leads him to be involved in an ill-fated expedition in support of the french monarchists and finally to action against the Spaniards. The final arc sees him go up for his examination for the rank of lieutenant, which becomes in itself an adventure of epic proportions in it's own right.While the characters might feel slightly underdeveloped for the reason explained above, this book contains a torrential stream of action-packed adventures as told by a master storyteller. The history presented here is all based on fact and has been thoroughly researched by the author for maximum authenticity. Forester being a seaman in the Royal Navy himself adds a richness of depth to the descriptions. For all of it's strengths, I would still recommend that you read ¿Lieutenant Hornblower¿ (which is the subject of the next review) first so as to get a better feel for the character before getting into this one.
AJBraithwaite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to the Hornblower books as a young teenager by my dad. I read and reread them in those years, but haven't revisted them for many years. When I found this one on the library's ebook system, I couldn't resist the temptation to immerse myself in it again and fall in love with Horatio Hornblower all over again.I'd forgotten that this volume is more of a series of short stories than a novel, unlike some of the other Hornblower books, but it doesn't detract too much from the enjoyment. I remember not really understanding much of the naval terminology when I first read the book as a 13- or 14-year-old - but you pick it up as you go along.I might just have to reread the rest of them now...
themulhern on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent book. Hornblower learns quickly from his mistakes and castigates himself for his failures. He maintains his honor in the face of authority. One mischance after another befalls him, but frequently his prompt and resourceful action improves his situation. This is the only book in which his relations with common sailors are significant; in all later books his commission places him at an august distance from the lower ranks. As is usual with Forester's books the waste, destruction, and misery of war are well portrayed and yet the excitement of the various military actions is considerable.
Nikkles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All of the Hornblower books are fantastic adventure novels. The story is written in an elevated way without detracting the reader of pushing them out of the prose. Everything works together in this book to make it the enjoyable classic that it is. It is good your young adults and adults alike.