Flying Colours, by C. S. Forester

by admin on June 7, 2010

Flying Colours is another wonderful tale of nautical fiction in the Hornblower series by C.S. Forester. In the sequence, it comes after Ship of the Line.

Flying Colours tells the tale of Flying Colours, by C: S. Forester Horatio Hornblower’s imprisonment in France, and his adventurous escape. It is one of the most endearing and interesting novels in the Hornblower saga. The book follows the action in Ship of the Line, where Hornblower in the end was forced to surrender following the death of three-quarters of his crew after a heroic battle. This is the seventh book in the Hornblower series.

Hornblower is now a prisoner of the French and is soon to face trial in Paris, where he will be tried on false charges of violating the laws of war, and is likely to be executed as part of Napoleon’s attempt to rally the empire behind him. As he, his coxswain Brown, and his trusted first mate lieutenant Bush are transported through France, they manage to escape. And the escape is a true adventure. The three escape into a stolen river boat. The water is cold, and several times the boat capsizes from rapids. But when the boat goes over a small waterfall, the boat is lost and the three men almost perish in the freezing water.

Hornblower and his friends manage to recapture an English vessel, Witch of Endor, and fight their way over to the English fleet. However, Hornblower is worried, as he knows that another court-martial awaits him in England, this time for his surrender of a British ship. And while he usually is full of self-doubt, that is perhaps more the case in this book than in others. But it turns out his worries were unnecessary: Hornblower, who was supposed to be dead, is well received, and when he returns to Spithead, he is received as a hero. And his court martial turns out to be a formality. Instead of being condemned, he is presented to the King and Knighted Sir Horatio Hornblower.

In Flying Colors, Hornblower finally manages to capitalize on his achievements and success. Flying Colours has all the qualities that make this series so popular – lots of attention to the background, well drawn characters, exciting and clever action, and the likeable and fragile personality of Hornblower. It is a very good read, even though most of the book takes place on land. It is a well-written and very satisfying tale.

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