am 18. April 2000
Of all the fictional characters in literature, only a handful have been compelling enough to be appropriated directly into stories by writers other than their original creators. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is one such character. C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower is another. This work by C. Northcote Parkinson is just such a continuation story, but with a twist. Instead of an historical novel, Parkinson writes the book as if it were an actual biography complete with illustrated plates, footnote citations to other (probably fictional) sources, and extended quotes from letters supposedly written by the characters. The Hornblower enthusiast will appreciate the few extra episodes wedged into the chronology created by the original author, as well as a detailed account of Hornblower's ancestry, boyhood, and forty years of life after the period of active service originally chronicled by Forester. But the purist might take exception to one or two new characters that Parkinson takes the liberty of introducing. Parkinson is also quite knowledgeable about the period, and does an excellent job of framing a life such as Hornblower's within the society (both civilian and naval) in which the character is supposed to have lived.
Although written as a serious biography, the author is clearly a Hornblower fan having a bit of fun as his retirement project. Parkinson is best known as the originator of "Parkinson's Law" (work expands to occupy available time) and the author of a popular series of humorous but pointed commentaries on management practices written in the 1950's and 1960's. In these books, he often feigns being a sociologist discovering universal principles of human behavior. So it is no surprise that he should follow up with this story in which he pretends to be an historian researching an actual person. The same tongue in cheek humor is at work.
am 6. April 1999
Mr.Parkinson has compiled for us a more complete history of the Admiral than C.S.Forester had available to him at any time in his writing career. Pictures, letters, and documents of this era are a welcome addition to my collection of Mr Forester's historical "fiction".I have always loved a good sea story and I can think of no better way to learn history than to put a human face on the facts. Many are called to "teach", but few are the teachers who effortlessly stimulate the student to seek out more knowledge.The world of Hornblower's lifetime saw many extremes and accomplishments of men and nations, showing us all once again that only the names and faces change over time. Those who strive to do their best will never have to look far to find they have succeeded.
am 9. März 2000
This book is a masterpiece. It details the life from birth to death (as well as the family history from the 17th century to the present day) of the master mariner Horatio Hornblower. It is written in the same style as CS Foresters original books and it fleshes out both the principal as well as many peripheral characters. We are given letters both to and from Hornblower, and maps of some of his more complex escapades.
This is a marvellously witty and educational book which, as has been said, details the 'missing chapters' of Hornblowers life at the same time as it attempts to explain his actions in view of the prevailing political and social mores.
I still find it hard to believe that it is fiction as it is more comprehensive than many biographies I have read
am 2. Juni 1999
As a lifelong HH fan, I've always lamented the fact that there were only 10 books. Parkinson does a marvelous job of plausibly filling in the few gaps remaining in Hornblower's career. His biographical style is perfect, down to the boring details of exactly where Smallbridge House was located. I found myself quite upset and indignant over the "information" in one of the appendices, and had to remind myself that, after all, we were speaking about a fictional character!
(Fans of the first Duke of Wellington will also enjoy his presence on the edges of Hornblower's story.)
am 26. Oktober 1999
Want to know what really happened to the captain of the "Renown"? Accident or assassination? How about Hornblower's life after the Navy? What happened to his son and Lady Barbara? Forester left many gaps in Hornblower's career to be filled in. Parkinson rises to the occasion presenting a complete fictionalized biography of Forester's great naval hero. Filled with the same wonderfully authentic details that enlivened Forester's stories, this book evokes life at sea in a British man o' war during the incomparable Age of Fighting Sail. A must for any Hornblower fan!