Saturday, May 29, 2010
Books & Movies: Horatio Hornblower
Ah, I love this series so very much.
It's an eleven book series written by C.S. Forester. It follows the character of Horatio Hornblower from Midshipman through his naval career up to Rear Admiral. The time is during the Napoleonic Wars.
Hornblower starts his career less than illustriously, as a midshipman who gets seasick on a perfectly calm harbour. The seasickness actually follows him throughout his career. Every time he begins a tour of duty after some time on land, he's horrendously sea sick. He hides it, because the other sea men that he admires are *never* sea sick, and makes it all the way to the position of commodore before he realizes that they've all known all along that he gets sea sick, and have played along with the fiction because they admire him so much, and it endears him to them that he has this one human flaw.
He has a reputation for brilliance in battle, which everyone around him sees, and for pulling off the impossible. But Hornblower himself doubts everything that he does, even if only after the fact. He is convinced that if his men ever knew about how he agonised over his decisions, over every death that one of his plans has caused that they would cease to respect him. What he doesn't ever realise is that this is what makes him the great commander that he is.
The series is brilliant. I have this weird affinity for historical naval series. This one and the Aubrey-Maturin series are utterly brilliant. I tried reading the Sharpe series, but could never really get into it. Well written, but just not my thing. I need my men in wooden ships, apparently. :)
Now, there is also a series of eight movies based on these books. They star Ioan Gruffudd. Of course they had to change some things because they're movies, but they're very, very close to the books, and really excellently done. A long time favorite of mine, for sure. And both the books and the movies do very well at historical accuracy of the ships, the uniforms, and just plain accuracy as to the way to sail a ship. Not that I can sail a ship, of course, well, not a wooden sail ship. I can drive a boat, but that's different. Anyway...in the case of my historical fiction, I like accuracy, dammit! And these succeed.