Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester
Published by Little, Brown and Co.
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester was the sixth of the Hornblower books to have been written, although it comes first in terms of internal chronology. It begins with young Horatio Hornblower's rather unpromising introduction to the nautical life, arriving wet and seasick to the warship Justinian, where the painfully shy lad quickly falls under the power of a sadistic bully of a senior midshipman.
Young Hornblower is so desperate that he briefly considers thoughts of desertion and of suicide, until the bully's intemperate accusation of cheating gives him an opportunity for an honorable escape. Hornblower challenges him to a duel, but one with a most curious setup that gives this young man untutored in swordplay or firearms what he considers an "even chance."
Fortunately for the young man's future, the captain hears of it in time to secretly order both guns to be left unloaded, so that honor is discharged while allowing both men to escape unscathed. Having passed his first trial of fire and knowing that he can face death, Hornblower receives a transfer to a better ship, one which will take him to sea.
Aboard the Indefatiguable, Hornblower experiences a series of adventures that forge his character and teach him the fundamentals of both seamanship and command. Although some present-day readers may find Hornblower's rigid conceptions of moral rectitude and personal honor quaint and amusing, it is a central part of his character and the psychological touchstone from which he draws his strength and courage.
Click here to order Mr. Midshipman Hornblower in paperback.
Hornblower's story continues in Lieutenant Hornblower.
Return to the Hornblower page
Home | Naval History | Reading | Writing | Fandom | Gallery | Articles | Bookstore | Personals | Work at Home | Link to Me
Review posted January 1, 2000
Want to look for other titles of interest?
Your purchases help maintain the Lord Nelson pages.