Here come the high seas! Adventures with Horatio Hornblower

ocean

Time for a little ocean break! Image courtesy of luanarodgriquez, Morguefile.

A while back, the BBC created a miniseries around C.S. Forester’s character Horatio Hornblower, and I got hooked. Hey….history…adventure….a dash of humor….interesting locations…..what’s not to like?

Before that, I’d never even heard of this character or the novels at all. (And did you know that C.S. Forester also wrote The African Queen in 1935, which would later be adapted into the Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn movie?)

Horatio Hornblower starts out as a lowly midshipman, serving on the Indefatigable (a.k.a. the “Indy”) in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era, gradually rising through the ranks due to his character and brains. The guy has a lot of adventures along the way, including getting captured, held in prison, fighting battles on land and sea, etc. etc.

The BBC cast Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd (Titanic, Fantastic Four) in the lead role (a friend’s sister nicknamed him “Hubba-Hubba Hornblower”), and he and his fellow cast members did a wonderful job with the movie. Gruffudd’s Hornblower is a compassionate character, but tough when it’s required and brave despite setbacks. He’s not afraid to stand up to those in authority (or bullies!) and wins the loyalty of others, particularly those who rank lower than he does.

Horatio has a best friend, Archie Kennedy (played by Jamie Bamber of NCIS and Battlestar Galactica). I read that Kennedy’s character was originally supposed to be written out of the series, but Bamber did such a great job with the role that they brought him back in.

I’ve intended to find the books to see if they were as good as the movie, and thanks to the book exchange at my church, I’m checking out the first one. Since this is a holiday weekend, I’ll be happily ensconced on my couch and savoring it. What are you planning to read this weekend?

If you haven’t seen the miniseries, I highly recommend it. Here’s a brief clip, courtesy of Itloup on YouTube.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Here come the high seas! Adventures with Horatio Hornblower

  1. This is a great series. I bought a boxed set of it for my dad and ended up watching them all myself. One of the best adventure series ever, in my opinion, and perfectly captures the spirit of the books.

    • There’s so much to love about this series. One of my favorite scenes is where Kennedy and Hornblower agree they have to jump over a cliff to the sea. They grin at each other, grab Lt. Bush, and jump off while Bush yells, “I can’t swimmmmmmmmm……”

  2. The mini-series was fun, but the books are wonderful. I read them all when I was in my 30s and I learned an amazing amount about the sea and navigation. That’s how I learned that trigonometry had a purpose other than torturing me in school 🙂

  3. One of our favorite series! And the books are indeed as good, despite their age. I’ve never understood why Ian’s career didn’t flourish. He only appeared in a couple of movies–lamentably Fantastic being one of them.

  4. travelrat

    The books were on our reading list at school, and the ones I enjoyed most. I think the character I liked best of all in the TV series was Robert Lindsay as Sir Edward Pellew … who really existed; I wonder how close to the real character Lindsay got?

  5. These historical tales are really quite good. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. My father-in-law has almost every one of C.S. Forester’s books! He loves them.

  7. The series was fun – my husband actually sat down and watched (and he doesn’t watch tv much at all). But only because he’s read that story and many others by Forester. (which is odd as he really hated reading as a kid – loved those books though)

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