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Showing 1-10 of 149 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 253 reviews
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.
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VINE VOICEon March 31, 2014
Beat to Quarters

This is the sixth book in the eleven volume Hornblower Saga following Hornblower and the Atropos (Hornblower Saga). Hornblower is the captain of the thirty six gun frigate Lydia in the Pacific off the coast of Central America. After making a remarkable bit of navigation he lands exactly where he intended without coming within sight of land during the entire trip.
I highly recommend this book and this entire series to fans of naval adventures.

Gunner March, 2014
The next book isShip of the Line (Hornblower Saga)
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on September 17, 2013
Fantastic book, and fantastic trilogy (I started with books 6, 7 and 8---Beat to Quarters, then Ship of the Line, then Flying Colours, respectively---as some readers suggest, which is the order that the author first published them). My wife admonished me for reading so much dry, non-fiction (political philosophy, history, etc), and encouraged me to read a bit of fiction for a change. I am so glad that I picked this series, and have voraciously been reading them for weeks, during what limited time I have! Of these 3, I thought Ship of the Line was the weakest (only barely though) in that it sort of meandered in a desultory way, what with Hornblower and crew crusin' up and down the coast of southern France, finding action here and there; there was less of an over-arching, clear-cut objective for him, and hence, less firmness to the plot. And although Flying Colours occurred mostly on land, with Hornblower and a couple others trying to escape as prisoners of Napoleon, I found that the most satisfying book of all; It more fully fleshed-out Hornblower's and Bush's characters,...and both presented Hornblower as more human (showing his touching concern for severely-wounded Bush, nursing him to health, etc), and as the neurotic, anxiety-plagued, self-conscious, conflicted person he is! And of course, the climax at the end, where it all comes together. As much as I wanted to plunge into book #9, I decided to go back to #1, as some suggest, and pick-up where C.S. Forester did when he continued the series. 4 stars from me is high praise indeed, as I usually reserve 5 stars for books of a caliber like classics such as Les Miserables, or The Count of Monte Cristo, or Battlefield Earth (yes, you read that right).
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on April 6, 2016
Whether you are already a naval bluff, or someone new to the genre, you cannot go wrong with C.S. Forester. This book is a great place to start the Hornblower series, as this was the first book published in the series (prequels were added later).

As for the book itself, it will have you on the edge of your seat. The jargon might be overwhelming at first, but it will all start to make sense soon enough. The naval action is tense, gritty, and realistic. Forester knows how to move the plot along and won't bore you with excessive storytelling: the action flows naturally between plot development.
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on February 11, 2011
My father had mentioned many years ago how he enjoyed the Hornblower series of novels. I finally took the time to order the 1st book and experience it myself. My background as a long time boater (sail) and having worked as a commercial fisherman endear all maritime books anyway. I found this first Hornblower novel by Forester to be a quick and enjoyable read - very detailed in the life aboard a British Naval frigate and Hornblower wins the reader over as he display's the many offsets between normal human vulnerabilities and the rigors of command. I highly recommend reading this book before watching "Master and Commander" it provides a wonderful primer to the film. I chose to read the 1st novel written as opposed to keeping with chronological order of Hornblowers career - I'm not sure if it makes a difference. My goal was to follow the authors creative schedule - I think chronologically Midshipman Hornblower would be the 1st in the series.

If you like books about the Age of Sail you will enjoy this novel...

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on December 19, 2009
The previous reviewer mostly reviewed the seller (which goes in a different place) and the physical quality of the book. To be honest, if one is buying books from the 1930s one's got to accept that they'll have a history. The books I received were in beautiful condition, though the original set slip cover--a cardboard sleeve, really--has decomposed into a few slats of cardboard that can pretend to be a box if you stack them up right, though I wasn't really buying that.

This edition is one of excellent quality, with large black printing, sturdy paper, and durable binding. The books open and pages turn easily without the spines looking as though they'll fall apart with a strong wind. As long as you don't mind old books, with all that entails, you really can't go wrong.
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on July 29, 2015
My favorite of all the Hornblower books and I like them all. The movie with Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo takes liberties with the plot but remains a lovely film nevertheless. The book arrived in perfect condition and replaces my mother's old disintegrating copy of some 80 venerable years.
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on October 27, 2007
The entire series of the Hornblower books are a must read. Forester was able to tell stories that had no boring sections, unlike Master and Commander, a book written of the same period and about the same types of life. This was Forester's first book of the series, but I think it is best to start with the first of the eleven books, all paper back and all done by the same publisher with the same type of cover illustrations. I read the entire series many years ago and found a fair number of inconsistencies based largely on the fact things happened in the books covering Horblower's earlier life that were not considered when Forester started the series. Some still remain, such as Hornblower's ability to speak French. As a younger officer he spoke it well. Later, he knows only a few words. Still, the books are so excellent it is best to overlook the inconsistencies.
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on January 17, 2015
I searched other places for a better deal. There were none. All others had the books but no slipcase, and at a higher price, too. I'm very happy to have made this purchase, it will go well with my collection. The sender wrapped it well in bubble wrap. There were no surprise marks or imperfections that were not already expected. Extremely satisfied, though I have not read them yet.
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on November 5, 2012
I enjoyed this book for several reasons. The first is Horatio Hornblower a brave man, who is not sure of himself at all times. Secondly, I enjoy reading about the Napoleonic Wars especially one dealing with the seas and the Spanish Peninsula. Thirdly, the books give a view of not only the British Navy but of British society at the time. The only drawback is that I know in just a few more books Hornblower will be finished for me and he will join the ranks of Sharpe and Aubrey as old comrades-in-arms on my book shelf.
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