Are you looking for a book to match the enjoyment and excitement of reading “Treasure Island” as a child? Well look no further than the Hornblower series. It follows the adventures of Horatio Hornblower during Britain’s numerous wars with Napoleonic France.1

Follow Hornblower, as he rises through the ranks of the Royal Navy, with many perilous encounters along the way. Harking back to the time of sail and Britain’s past glory. It comes across as a pierce of light-hearted entertainment, good when you want to wind down.1

The books themselves contain a series of miniature adventure spaced out over a wider story. The stories themselves follow the maxim war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. With each book being an instalment in the Hornblower story. They are narrated from the perspective of Hornblower with the expectation of Lieutenant Hornblower being told from the perceptive of William Bush. Bush later becomes Hornblower’s second in command.1

The downsides

Although I must add a word of warning. If you are not familiar with naval terminology and the Napoleonic period, you may struggle to start with. To make matter worse, you are left, searching for terms, that even google has trouble finding. To avoid this, it would have benefited from a glosser of terms attached as a PDF. I know audible studios can do this as other audiobooks have PDFs. Conversely once you get past this, Hornblower is a very easily listen. 1

All knowing characters like Hornblower, do not normally work. They usually push things too far to be believable, destroying the audience’s immersion. Hornblower is a bit too perfect, a bit too much of the time. However in this context it just works. Just like in any terminator movie, it’s not meant to be totally believable. Its just good fun. 1

By the third book, Hornblower and the Hotspur, I was starting to loss some of my interest. As the first three books are a bit too similar to one another. 1 Although considering that they were published originally over half a century ago, I am being a bit harsh. 2 Especially considering how much from the 1980s has aged really badly, let a alone from the 1950s.


The Hornblower series was written in the 1950s and early 1960s by Cecil Louis Troughton Smith using the penname of C. S. Forester. 2 He did not write the Hornblower books in chronological order. 4 With books, 1 to 3 being some of the last to be published. 4

Smith may well have been aware of the parallels between his time and the Napoleonic period.

They were both times of great upheavals and uncertainly. With Britain in the 1950s coming to terms with no longer being a superpower, with the outbreak of the Cold War. Having parallels with the French Revolution and Napoleon bringing upheavals to Europe and uncertainty to Britain’s future.

More importantly had Britain faced invasion in both Napoleonic periods and during Smith’s lifetime. As I stated in One of Britain’s Great Prime Minister “William Pitt The Younger” Review Britain had faced invasion from Napoleonic France not to dissimilar to that of 1940. 3

The narrator

The narrator, Christian Rodska, is an exceptional storyteller, just like Steven Fry. He gives each character a distinctive voice, that perfectly fitting the character. Rodska storytelling is further enhanced by his posh accent, given Hornblower’s middle class background. With many of his superior and colleges coming from an upper and middle class background. In short, Rodska is perfect for the role. 1

By Arran Wilkins © 2021 (text only)



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(1) Forester, C.S. (Author). Rodska, Christian (Narrator). Hornblower and the Hotspur (Audible Studios, 2011) Amazon Audible, Available at: [Accessed on 19th May 2021].

Forester, C.S. (Author). Rodska, Christian (Narrator). Lieutenant Hornblower (Audible Studios, 2011) Amazon Audible, Available at: [Accessed on 19th May 2021].

Forester, C.S. (Author). Rodska, Christian (Narrator). Mr Midshipman Hornblower (Audible Studios, 2013) Amazon Audible, Available at: [Accessed on 19th May 2021].

(2) C. S. Forester Society, Pictures. Available at: [Accessed on 20 May 2021].

C. S. Forester Society, Hornblower: THE HORNBLOWER BOOKS Available at: [Accessed on 20 May 2021].

(3) A.W. Book Reviews, ONE OF BRITAIN’S GREAT PRIME MINISTER “WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER” REVIEW Available at: [Accessed on 20 May 2021].

Hague, William (Author), Burnip, Richard (Narrator). William Pitt The Younger (Audible Studios, 2009) Amazon Audible, Available at: [Accessed on 28th April 2021].

(4) ThoughtCo. Horatio Hornblower: In Which Order Should You Read the Novels? Available at:,10%20%22Hornblower%20and%20the%20Hotspur%22%20More%20items…%20 [Accessed on 20 May 2021].

(Image one) ludyxa. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Accessed at: [Accessed on 21st April 2021].

(Image two) cocoparisienne. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Accessed at: [Accessed on 21st April 2021].

(Image three) Youssef Jheir. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Accessed at: [Accessed on 21st April 2021].

(Image four) Comfreak. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Accessed at: [Accessed on 5th April 2021].

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