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Beat to Quarters (Hornblower Saga
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Originally published as The Happy Return in England, this novel launched Forester's "Hornblower" series in his midcareer. It opens in 1808 with then Captain Horatio Hornblower commanding a British frigate in the Pacific Ocean, where he is to aid Central American rebels against Spain. He captures a larger Spanish warship and turns it and a large supply of guns over to the rebels, even though they are led by a madman. After learning that Spain has allied with Britain, he must fight the Spanish ship a second time. First, however, he reluctantly takes aboard an aristocratic Englishwoman who is fleeing fever in Panama. The result is an exciting mixture of adventure and romance that sets the stage for ten future Hornblower stories. Geoffrey Howard's narration in this new recording is a signal improvement over the company's earlier edition but is not demonstrably better than Christian Rodska's reading of The Happy Return for BBC Audiobooks. Either version would make a fine addition to any general audiobook collection.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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