When it comes to novels of naval adventure C.S. Forester is at the top of the reading list. Mr. Forester, the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith (1899-1966), was a professional novelist best known for penning the adventures of Horatio Hornblower, loosely based on the experiences of famous naval heroes of the late 18th and early 19th century. He was also responsible for The African Queen, the basis for the classic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
Mr. Forester's novels are always filled with historical detail that bring their maritime settings to vivid life. His heroes are honorable and courageous, and his plots have adventure and suspense. If you’ve never picked up one of his novels, start with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower or try the A&E adaption, Hornblower, starring Ioan Gruffud.
If you're already a Hornblower fan, you may also enjoy these authors:
Julian Stockwin, a former naval officer, has written a series of novels following the naval career of Thomas Paine Kydd that brim with nautical jargon and historical detail. Start with Kydd, young Tom is pulled from his life as a wig maker and pressed into service in the navy in 1793. The reader learns the ins and outs of life at sea along with Kydd as they enjoy his adventures during the Napoleonic wars.
Patrick O'Brian is another well-known author of adventure novels set during the Napoleonic period. His richly detailed series follows the naval adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, drawn partially from the life of Lord Cochrane. Start with Master and Commander, the meeting of Aubrey and Maturin, and start of their adventures, but is only loosely connected to the film of the same name.
Dewey Lambdin has made his name as the author of the Alan Lewrie series of naval adventures. Set during the same historic time and packed with period detail and naval jargon, Lewrie starts off slightly less heoric hero (he's a bit of a fop), but comes to take pride in his career. Start with The King's Coat, young Lewrie is pressed into naval service as a midshipman in 1780 and must find his sea legs soon, or risk a gory death.
William C Hammond has turned his passion for sailing and history into a series of richly detailed novels set during the late 18th century. Start with A Matter of Honor, Richard Cutler joins the Continental Navy after his brother was killed by the men of the Royal Navy. A mix of history, exciting battles, and a bit of romance.
Jay Worrall's stories of Charles Egemont will satisfy readers looking for the romance of the sea and honor of the fight against Napoleon. Start with Sails on the Horizon, Second Lieutenant Charles Egemont is thrust into command by the death of his Captain, and finds that he is more than up to the task.
Bernard Cornwell is the author of fast-paced and well researched historical adventures, with a focus on the gritty reality of the battlefield. Fans of Napoleonic sea battles might enjoy Mr. Cornwell's Richard Sharpe series which follows the career of an illiterate private through some of history's most exciting battles. The series was also adapted as a television program starring Sean Bean as Sharpe.
The Honor Harrington series by David Weber is long-running, plot-driven, work of science fiction peopled by engaging characters, not the least of which is Honor herself. This series is based in part on the navel adventures of the Horatio Hornblower and the career of Admiral Nelson, but has grown over the years to a richly detailed and colorfully populated future universe. The series starts with On Basilisk Station (which can be found on a CD-ROM in War of Honor) with Honor demonstrating her extraordinary skill as a tactician and leader under pressure.
Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!