Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester

Published June 24, 2023

Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester

Book info

  • Title Hornblower and the Atropos
  • Author C. S. Forester
  • Year 1953
  • Genre Adventure

1805, and Hornblower is both humbled and honoured in quick succession... After near disaster on board a canal barge, Horatio Hornblower is given his first assignment as Captain, taking charge of the Atropos, a 22-gun sloop that will act as flagship for the funeral procession of Lord Nelson. Soon the Atropos is part of the Mediterranean fleet's assault upon Napoleon, and Captain Hornblower must execute a bold and daring salvage operation for buried treasure lying deep in Turk waters. Under the guns of a suspicious port captain and the threat of a Spanish frigate more than double Atropos's size, Hornblower must steer his ship unscathed and triumphant.


It’s always tricky with these books because sometimes they can lean just too far into the many water-based battles. I don’t mind a good battle and Forester writes them very well, but there’s only so much understanding I have about ships drawing alongside and facing each other down.

This book, though, had a fantastic balance between Hornblower’s personal life and at sea life, with the start of the book seeing him leg through a canal tunnel and become a father for the second time, and then quite quickly avoiding humiliating disaster as part of the funeral procession for Nelson. What I really enjoyed was the difficult decisions Hornblower was presented with - whether to go after the gold despite a potentially fatal injury to the expert, whether to stop to pick up a man overboard in the middle of a significant chase. A cracking read.

Rating: 4 / 5

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