The Hornblower Set 3: Admiral Hornblower

The Commodore, Lord Hornblower, Hornblower in the West Indies

C. S. Forester

Illustrated by Joe McLaren

Introduced by Bernard Cornwell

The saga of C. S. Forester’s brilliant nautical hero comes to completion in the third and final set in The Folio Society’s Hornblower Saga. With meticulously researched illustrations by series artist Joe McLaren.

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‘Vastly entertaining … I find Hornblower admirable’

  1. Sir Winston Churchill

C. S. Forester’s naval adventure series comes to an end with Folio’s spectacular illustrated three-volume set. Filled to the very last page with political intrigue, far-flung locations and, above all, thrilling adventures on the high seas, The Hornblower Saga 3: Admiral Hornblower completes the story of historical fiction’s most celebrated hero. This special Folio collection brings every part of C. S. Forester’s saga together and, for the first time, arranges it in chronological order. In this final collection, Hornblower achieves the very pinnacle of his career with missions that include foiling mutinies, tangling with Caribbean pirates, and, of course, out-thinking the forces of the relentlessly ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte. A lifelong Hornblower devotee, novelist Bernard Cornwell provides a fond introduction, while series artist Joe McLaren returns to bring the Napoleonic Wars crashing directly onto the page. An unmissable conclusion to this literary phenomenon.

Production Details

Three-quarter bound in cloth with printed and blocked cloth front boards

Set in Bulmer

Vol 1: 304pp; Vol 2: 256pp; Vol3: 304pp (864 pages in total)

15 full-page black & white integrated illustrations and 4 chapter heads across 3 vols

6 maps across 3 volumes

Printed endpapers

Printed and blocked slipcase

9˝ x 5¾˝

The fate of Europe hangs in the balance

Once, Hornblower was infamous as the midshipman who was seasick in the sheltered stretch of water known as the Spithead. When we join him in this final part of the saga, it is to accompany Hornblower the hero, admired by his men and famed for his daring and decisiveness in the heat of battle. These three volumes contain, in bountiful quantities, everything that has made the series so endlessly popular: riotous action on the high seas, exotic locations, a keen sense of history, and, above all, the courageous Horatio Hornblower.

In the first volume, newly appointed a commodore, Hornblower must thwart French ambitions in the chilly Baltic waters. The situation in the north looks to be fraught with peril; when not struggling with the lethal ice and fog, Hornblower finds himself faced with an assassination plot. On a secret mission that has no easy solutions, Lord Hornblower sees the officer dispatched to extract a deeply unpopular lieutenant from the clutches of a mutinous crew. In the final volume, Britain has forged an uneasy peace with France, yet the newly promoted rear admiral is hardly short of problems to solve – his posting to the Caribbean sees him entangled with pirates, hurricanes and a plot to free Napoleon from his exile on St Helena. This volume rounds off the saga with a final short story, ‘The Last Encounter’, which sees the naval officer navigating the choppy waters of retirement.

‘Hornblower has made his way into the public heart as few fictional heroes have ever done’

  1. San Francisco Chronicle

The ultimate illustrated edition

Series illustrator Joe McLaren consulted closely with Brian Lavery, former curator of Maritime History at the National Museum, Greenwich. The result is a collection of full-page illustrations and chapter headings that capture all the heart and action of the Hornblower series, whilst also remaining historically spot-on and evocative of the period. McLaren’s intricate work can also be seen in the three spectacular binding designs, where his skilled use of colour and line bring to life the changing moods of the sea and conjure all the drama of the magnificent ships of the period. In 1964, C. S. Forester published a selection of maps that charted Hornblower’s many far-flung voyages, and the relevant maps have been reproduced at the start of each volume.

Experience history from the deck of a wind-tossed warship

Hornblower is a flawed character. He is physically awkward, he has a weak head for drink, and he tends to be unwise in romantic matters. But he nevertheless possesses all the necessary qualities of a hero: he is brave; he is intelligent and innovative; he has a strong sense of honour, morality and duty. It is this combination of virtues and flaws that makes him such an irresistible hero. The vast backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars provides another of the enduring attractions of the series. The reader is transported deep into the conflict, exploring, over the course of the saga, all corners of the globe affected by a time of momentous upheaval. Bernard Cornwell, himself responsible for some of the most popular historical fiction ever written, has described Hornblower as ‘the supreme military hero of adventure fiction’. In his introduction for this final set, he examines what it is about Forester, and Hornblower, that has kept readers entranced for decades.

About C. S. Forester

Cecil Scott Forester was born in Cairo in 1899 to British parents. He studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London but, after leaving without a degree, he turned to writing. His first novel, Payment Deferred, was published in 1926. During the Second World War he worked for the British government writing propaganda to foster American support for Britain’s war effort, a post that took him to California, where he lived until his death in 1966. The author of more than 50 novels, Forester is best remembered for his series of 12 books and several short stories about Horatio Hornblower, an officer in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

About Joe MacLaren

Joe McLaren graduated with a BA in Illustration from the University of Brighton in 2003. He has worked for many book publishers, including Penguin, Orion and HarperCollins, contributing illustrations for titles such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. His work for The Folio Society includes artwork for titles by Anthony Burgess, William Cobbett and a host of historical writers, as well as the Hornblower Saga. He is also known for his editorial work in The Times and WIRED magazine, among others. McLaren most often uses scraperboard to create his images, a late 19th-century invention prized for its deep contrast and distinctive texture.


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