Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C. S. Forester: A-

From the back cover:
In the chaotic aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the legendary Rear Admiral Lord Hornblower struggles to impose order. Serving as commander-in-chief of His Majesty’s ships and vessels in the West Indies, Hornblower confronts a formidable array of hostile forces, among them pirates, revolutionaries, and a blistering hurricane. The war is over, but peaceful it is not.

This was an enjoyable conclusion to the Hornblower saga—far better than the incomplete Hornblower During the Crisis would’ve been had I remained on publication order ’til the end.

Rather than one continuous narrative, the story was broken down into five self-contained novellas. My favorite was probably “St. Elizabeth of Hungary,” in which Hornblower thwarted an attempt to free Napoleon from St. Helena, though the rest all had their moments. Other challenges involved capturing a speedy ship trafficking in slaves, escaping from a band of desperate pirates, maintaining England’s neutrality in a Venezuelan conflict, and surviving a hurricane.

It wasn’t as dark as previous entries in the series, which makes sense given that it’s peacetime and all, but Hornblower was still personally as conflicted and brilliant as ever. Although I generally would prefer a novel over a series of novellas, these stories were so charming it’s hard to imagine this final outing as anything else; this approach was a nice way to craft a happy ending without diverging into sentimentality.

I never suspected that I would love the Hornblower novels as much as I did. It would make me happy if even one person decided to read them based on my endorsement.

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