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Jul 22

Teens Review: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

Posted on July 22, 2019 at 12:00 AM by Elizabeth Land

Title: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester
Reviewer: Blaine H.
Rating: 5 Stars

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower book coverMr. Midshipman Hornblower is about a 17-year-old British naval officer who lived during the French Revolution. The book takes place in 1793, just as the Napoleonic Wars are about to start. The novel is the first in a series of a compilation of short stories about the adventures and battles of Mr. Hornblower throughout his naval career. In this book, Midshipman Hornblower learns how the Navy operates and how to act during any situation that might occur. He engages in several battles involving the French and the Spanish armies. At the start of the book, Mr. Hornblower is the leader of the His Majesty’s Ship (H.M.S.) Indefatigable. He is delivering a shipment of rice and it is his first independent mission. As he comes into contact with French naval forces, he is forced to make the decision to jettison the rice from the ship, therefore failing his first independent mission. Learning from his first failure, Hornblower continues on in the book throughout many different short stories to travel throughout Europe on missions. These include battles in France and in the ports of Spain. One time, he gets involved in a battle with the French and has to fight on horseback close to the front lines. Most of the book, Hornblower is on his ship the H.M.S. Indefatigable, but sometimes he is in different settings. Unfortunately, he runs into a bit of page-turning trouble in Spain while fighting a naval battle against them. Eventually, however, all turns out well towards the end of the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about war adventures or who is interested in history. While some of the language is very specific to Naval and maritime terms, it is still a very good book. I personally found it a little difficult to get into the book at first with all of the sea language and somewhat old-fashioned language as well. I eventually became interested and liked the book because the adventure in each story kept me hooked. It is not an extremely long read, but it is part of a series of similar stories about Hornblower’s naval career. The book was very well written, and I really enjoyed it.

YCPL Read-alikes
  • Prison Ship: Adventures of a young sailor by Paul Dowswell (YA)
    Prison Ship book coverSummary: After being framed for cowardice in a sea battle, thirteen-year-old Sam and his friend Richard are sent to Australia, where they must fight for their lives in the outback.
  • The Mutiny on the Bounty by Patrick O'Brien (J)
    Summary: “Life sailing with the Royal Navy in the 1780's was particularly miserable: sailors slept in crowded hammocks, ate moldy cheese and maggoty bread, and were subject to very harsh discipline. So when the HMS Bounty arrived in Tahiti after 11 months at sea, the crew of the Bounty thought it was heaven on earth. Living on the island paradise made them lazy and careless. As the return journey began, Captain Bligh's crew proved reluctant to leave. His temper began to flare, and his second-in-command and old friend Fletcher Christian suffered the worst of Bligh's outbursts. His honor at stake and a longing to return to the island, Christian led a mutiny, then set Bligh and 18 loyal crew members adrift in a launch. A daring escape by Christian and the mutineers, paired with Bligh's amazing story of survival all make up one of history's most rousing true maritime tales, and Patrick O'Brien's 85 illustrations reach epic proportions of drama and realism.” (From Amazon)
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Summary: While going through the possessions of a deceased guest who owed them money, the mistress of the inn and her son find a treasure map that leads to a pirate treasure as well as great danger.