C.S. Forester,
Commodore Hornblower
(Little, Brown & Co., 1945; Back Bay, 2000)

Commodore Hornblower takes our hero into a new front in the war against Napoleon -- the Baltic region, where advancing French and allied armies are pushing into Russia and threatening the czar's power.

Hornblower, now married to Barbara Wellesly and newly ensconced in the life of a country squire, is as eager to get back to sea as he is reluctant to leave his wife and young son behind. Of course, Hornblower can never resist the call of the sea and his duty to Britain.

His orders direct him to the Baltic Sea on the 74-gun ship of the line Nonsuch, captained by his old friend Bush, and leading a small, autonomous fleet to protect British interests and try to ensure Russia enters the war against old Boney.

Hornblower, as always, attacks both military and diplomatic duties with an inspired brand of genius and, as usual, readers will be treated to his thrilling exploits at sea as well as on land, culminating in the defense of Riga against a tireless siege army.

C.S. Forester continues to advance Hornblower through the Napoleonic wars with a keen eye for historic detail and the flavor of the sea. I could read this series forever, I think; sadly, this is the ninth book in Forester's 11-book series, and it's drawing too quickly toward the end.

review by
Tom Knapp

23 January 2010

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