Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
on May 29, 2003
Although it was the first book C.S. Forester wrote, Beat To Quarters is chronologically the sixth book in the Hornblower Series. One can see instantly why the series took off when this book hit the press. It is not only a thrilling adventure but establishes a depth of character rarely seen in its genre.
This book is the first of a trilogy of connected titles that cover Horatio's rise from an unknown frigate's captain to one of the most famous officers in the Royal Navy. Posted to duty west of Central America, he is expected to navigate not only the water of the Pacific, but the troubled political waters of rebellion and shifting alliances that characterized the Napoleonic wars. He's required to engage a ship of twice his might not once but three times. And of course, he meets Lady Barbara -- destined to become one of the most intruiging characters in his life.
I was surprised to find little discontinuity with the "prequel" books that were written after Beat to Quarters. The book almost seamlessly blends with the cannon of Horatio's life, referencing his previous adventures with the Castilla and Captain Pellow. The only real continuity problem is that Bush seems to have lost his memory of the events in the second and third books.
This books works because it doesn't try to confine itself to a simple genre. It is, of course, a splendid action adventure and wonderful historical fiction. But it also works as a simple character drama -- establishing three powerful characters -- the taciturn Hornblower, efervescent Bush and charming Barbara -- and creates memorable scenes built solely from conversation and interaction.