Captain Hornblower R.N.

Posted on April 8, 2012 by Jack Kelly
Tags: readings

Well, I suppose this was inevitable. I found a three-story collection of Hornblower novels on a virtual garage sale.

The Hornblower novels remind me of Ender’s Game more than anything else. Hornblower reminds me of Ender Wiggin: both are introspective leaders, isolated by their position. Both are analytical but can understand and manage their underlings extremely well. Both have a habit of pulling surprising victories out of dire situations, as well.

Having constant access to Hornblower’s thoughts means you can see how he constructs the persona of a fearless naval captain, despite fighting his fears, controlling his seasickness and maintaining his crew’s morale. Unfortunately, most of his thoughts are him berating himself for cowardice, stupidity or some other perceived flaw. The contradiction between his outward success as a leader and his internal self-flagellation is fascinating in small doses but becomes tiresome.

Even so, I enjoyed the three stories: Hornblower salvages British gold from the bottom of a Turkish harbour, sails halfway around the world on orders kept secret from his crew, handles the scheduling of Nelson’s funeral and manages to do it all while satisfying his personal morals and his duty to the Royal Navy.

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