Although other stories featuring Hornblower had already been written by the author in this book he goes back to the beginning of Hornblower's naval career. This book isn't really a novel, it is more a series of short stories, but I should point out that not every chapter in this book is a story by itself, some continue over two chapters.
I first started reading the Hornblower stories when I was about eleven or twelve, when I picked up one that my dad had, and since then have read them all, but not for quite some time, so it is nice to get back to one of them. Personally I think the Hornblower stories are well written and make good reading, although some are obviously better than others, and I also prefer them to the other series' of such books that have come along since then. Horatio Nelson may be our most famous sailor in real life, but when it comes to fiction, then Horatio Hornblower is the greatest sailor to be found in a book.
In this series of stories we follow the young, seventeen year old Hornblower as he boards his first ship. Dealing with bullying he manages to have a duel, command 'prize' boats, and even think about taking his lieutenant exam, as well as acting as a translator among other things. Full of incident and adventure this is well worth reading and will appeal to both the young and old. Hornblower himself has become so popular because he is just like the majority of us, he may feel fear, he has his flaws, but when push comes to shove he does what is necessary, and also tries to always do things honourably.