Lord Hornblower by C.S. Forester
Published by Little, Brown and Co.
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Lord Hornblower by C. S. Forester is one of the last Hornblower books, dealing as it does with the close of the Napoleonic Wars. A tyranical captain has driven his crew to mutiny, and Lord St. Vincent sends Commodore Hornblower to crush it before other ships' crews believe they too can mutiny and get away with it.
Hornblower is torn between his knowledge of the importance of discipline to the Navy and his humanitarian knowledge that he himself could never have tolerated the sorts of abuses that this captain perpetrated. He ends up retaking the mutinying ship in a daring action that also involves a French ship. He convinces the coastal city of Le Harve to declare in favor of the Bourbon restoration under Louis XVIII, younger brother of the murdered Louis XVI, even as he comes to despise the entire Bourbon family.
In reward for his actions, he is elevated to the peerage as Baron Hornblower of Smallbridge. With Napoleon safely a prisoner on Elba, he feels confident enough to allow his beautiful wife Barbara to cross the Channel in the company of the Bourbon princesses and accompany him to the Congress of Vienna. However, peace is not long to survive, for Napoleon soon escapes and returns to Paris.
Trapped in France, Hornblower leads a desperate resistance against Napoleon. Forester does not hesitate to kill off Hornblower's closest friends in battle, leading to some very real suspense as to whether Hornblower himself will survive, although we as readers know how Napoleon's hundred days must necessarily end, with defeat at Waterloo.
Click here to order Lord Hornblower in paperback.
Hornblower's story concludes in Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies.
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Review posted January 17, 2000
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