Monday, August 16, 2004

Hornblower During the Crisis, and Two Stories: Hornblower's Temptation and The Last Encounter ~ C. S. Forester

Goddamn it, Forester, you're not supposed to up and DIE on me in the middle of the goddamn book!! I hate it when authors do that. Forester's books are all plot; he doesn't waste much time with expostition, and even though I know our Intrepid Hero saves the day in the end, that's not the point. I want to see him do it! Forester just finishes setting up the main story, putting all the parts in motion, ending with the final sentence, "[Hornblower] was about to become a captain at last, and he was about to become a spy." And that's it. Forester dies with the book unfinished. You're left hanging there. They provide the author's notes with the plot outline, but that hardly makes up for it. It's frustrating. You never actually get to see Horatio try his hand at espionage. You never find out what Forester means by "The Crisis". Any crisis in particular, or just the usual unease over whether or not the French will invade? Really, it's very inconsiderate on Forester's part. I only hope A&E/BBC decides to film the rest of the series, I'd love to see what they would do with Hornblower the Spy.
The two short stories following are pretty good, but obviously can't compensate for what might have been. "Hornblower's Temptation" is just another example of Horatio's inner struggle to Do the Right Thing, and of course he does, being an honorable chap and all. "The Last Encounter" is more interesting, because I'm reading the books following the chronology of Hornblower's life, not the order they were written (hence Forester managing to die in the middle of his series), and this is the first time I've met Lady Barbara, Horatio's True Love. It's also the first time I've ever seen Horatio in love, and happy (well, as happy as he would ever allow himself to be). It's unusually tranquill, for a Hornblower piece; no raging battles or life-and-death decisions or ethical quandries. Just a nice, quiet evening by the fire with the wife, and a guy who thinks he's Napoleon.
Now I'm anxious for Lady B to properly make her entrance, but I think I still have two or three more books to go before she shows up.


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