Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hornblower gets my ship's biscuit!

If you browse through Yahoo you will find specific groups dedicated to the various fictitious naval heroes - characters who have almost become household words, eg: Jack Aubrey, Richard Bolitho and Hornblower. And their creators are as well known as their protégés.
Having written one sea story (Sea Dust), and with a desire to write another, I decided it was time I investigated what it was that the authors of these characters wrote to attract such a large readership and to maintain them over a long period of time.
I tried Patrick O’Brian some time ago and only managed to finish Master and Commander. Half way through, The Far Side of the World, I stopped. For me, O’Brian’s prose consists of too many long sentences which need reading three times over. And he goes off at a tangents at times rather than sticking with the story.
I’ve also tried a couple of Alexander Kent’s. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the early books and started midway through the series where both Bolitho senior and Bolitho junior appeared. I found the double presence confusing.
My other comment is that in all Kent’s scenes at sea – I never once felt the movement of the ship!
Julian Stockwyn is on my list but I haven’t sampled his Kydd series yet.
Last week I bought the first six books of the Hornblower series and have already whizzed through book one and am now onto the second.
All I can say is I am loving the way CS Forester writes. Sure there are a lot of nautical terms but the settings are on fighting ships. Also there is plenty of action (much of it tongue in cheek) but the stories are what I would describe as rollicking good fun with lots of variety. His characters are interesting. I would describe Hornblower as mostly human with a tendency at times to superhuman qualities.
The series I would say encompasses the journey theme, the hero theme, good over evil story and even the Cinderella theme all rolled into one. They have all the ingredients of a good yarn and I’m looking forward to reading them all.
The complete series of CS Forester's Hornblower series are available from Amazon

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