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Hornblower book by John Mahon

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Alaric Bond on Wed 19 Sep 2012, 11:04

I have just been advised that there is a new book out, approved by C S Forester's sons, that finishes Hornblower and the Crisis. More information here:

http://www.johnmahon.us/jm_book_TJAo1805.html

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Astrodene on Wed 19 Sep 2012, 18:22

@Alaric Bond wrote:I have just been advised that there is a new book out, approved by C S Forester's sons, that finishes Hornblower and the Crisis. More information here:

http://www.johnmahon.us/jm_book_TJAo1805.html
Thanks for the heads up. I've added it to the site and done a blog post

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Joolz on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 01:09

Aye, "The Jamaican Affair of 1805" ... this is one case where Kindle's sample function will come in very handy!
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by 80 Winters on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 01:16

The Jamican Affair of 1805

OK Shipmates.........'in for a penny, in for a pound' (or in this case $8.50).

I'm trying to fill 'the void' in my HNF reading between Alaric's series and the forthcoming offerings from Stockwin, Donachie, Hammond that are due out starting in October.

I've read the publisher's 'blurb'.........'an interlude between Lady Barbara and Nelson'..............not sure I'm able to handle that, but I'll never know unless I 'read the book'.

So I've 'ordered it from the cloud' and it now awaits to begin my evenings entertainment. The Enet publisher states that it's not available everywhere from them yet......but evidently it is in America.

I'll return with my thoughts........
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Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Astrodene on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 01:19

@80 Winters wrote:'an interlude between Lady Barbara and Nelson'..............not sure I'm able to handle that
You won't have to. He was married to Maria at this point in his career.

Surprised

(As it is by a different author and may contribute quite a few posts, I think it will be better as a separate thread - so split)

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by 80 Winters on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 02:21

Since I haven't read this series in some time, I'd lost track of exactly when Maria exited the scene. But now that brings up the possibility of an interlude between Maria and Nelson..........not sure I want to go there either.

I'm curious to see if Mahon can 'bring this off'. Evidently Forester's sons thought he could......going to be interesting. Hope some other forum members will 'try this one on for size' and get back to us with their thoughts.
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by 80 Winters on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 06:49

Just 'put it down' for the evening as I've gotten about a quarter of the way through it.........a good yarn so far.

From the entry 'blurb' on the author, John Mahon has had a varied career from Navy pilot to many years in the family's publishing business. And he's no 'spring chicken' admitting to the age of 86 at the publication of this novel.

Since I haven't read Hornblower in awhile, I can't compare his 'writing style' to that of Forester's, but I will say that Mahon is an American and while 'schooled' in a earlier era of written English......still has the writing style (at least in my mind) of an American rather than a 'public school educated' English writer. In no way do I mean that to be derogatory.

I thought I'd caught a 'historical inaccuracy' when he used the saying "the best laid plans.......". However, my research showed this was used by "Bobby" Burns in his poem: To a Mouse..... that he wrote in 1785, so he's pretty tight on H.A.

As I said previously: 'a good yarn so far, and I'm enjoying it'.
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The Jamaican Affair Of 1805

Post by Joolz on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 02:14

Well, I read the sample and, despite reservations, I decided to carry on and read it all. Here's the review I've posted on Amazon ...


In over 40 years of reading nautical fiction, I can honestly say this book is the worst by a comfortable margin. The only positive observation I can make is that Mahon has made a passable attempt to integrate his plot into the Hornblower canon. However, his characterization of Hornblower and Maria are so far removed from Forester’s as to be virtually unrecognisable.

I could ramble on at length about the many failings of this book, but life is too short: The Jamaican Affair Of 1805 is a poor example of the genre, poorly conceived and poorly written with no attempt to create any sense of period either in speech or actions. Mahon demonstrates little understanding of the Georgian Royal Navy, nor of the essence of Hornblower, despite claiming to be a long time fan.

I cannot conceive what was in the minds of Forester’s descendants to allow this travesty to proceed, let alone publish it (eNet Press is a company set up last year by Forester’s sons). The most annoying thing for me is that it will sell simply because of the Hornblower name, yet there are authors currently writing superb nautical fiction (Alaric Bond, JD Davies, Linda Collison, Susan Keogh etc) who struggle to find proper recognition.


Oh, and by the way, the "Nelson incident" is so farcical it's beyond a joke.

I was keen to read this because I generally like to support new authors, but obviously one must expect the odd turkey in the chicken farm.


Last edited by Joolz on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 20:16; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : changed 'Hamilton' into 'Collison' ... sorry for the brain fade)
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Astrodene on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 10:32

A very disappointing read by the sound of it. Looking forward to what 80winters has to say on it.

I had my doubts just from the blurb based on the timeline. Forester had Hornblower getting the fleet to sail and it did so late October so HH must be in Spain till about then. The Atropos book starts with him on a canal trip, then taking command then organising Nelson's Funeral which took place on the 9th January so HH must have been in England from say Mid December. That would give him barely a month and a half to get out to Jamaica do whatever and get back. It just seemed an impossibility unless I missed something. I'd be interested on your views on the timeline having read it.

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Joolz on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 12:08

@Astrodene wrote:Forester had Hornblower getting the fleet to sail and it did so late October so HH must be in Spain till about then. The Atropos book starts with him on a canal trip, then taking command then organising Nelson's Funeral which took place on the 9th January so HH must have been in England from say Mid December. That would give him barely a month and a half to get out to Jamaica do whatever and get back. It just seemed an impossibility unless I missed something. I'd be interested on your views on the timeline having read it.
I haven't read Hornblower And The Crisis so I'm not aware how far Forester got, but according to Wikipedia Hornblower delivers "the false orders to Villeneuve without arousing suspicion, prompting him to take his fleet to sea" - this is not quite how it happens in Mahon's book!

Mahon has Hornblower trying to flush Villeneuve from Ferrol early in August. Villeneuve leaves Ferrol on 10th August, ending up joining the Spanish in Cadiz, from where he eventually sails in October. Hornblower arrives in Ferrol one day after Villeneuve left, ie 11th August, so his Caribbean escapade thus begins in mid August, more than 2 months earlier than you suggest, so I think the time-line is plausible.
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Astrodene on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 12:14

Yes I'd forgotten HH was trying to get him to leave Ferrol rather than Cadiz so it does leave more time. Thanks. If memory serves the wikepedia entry is based on the publishers notes at the end of crisis telling the reader what CSF's working notes showed he intended to do.

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by 80 Winters on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 18:44

I was finishing up the last few pages of The Jamaican Affair of 1805 when I received notification of 'Joolz' review late last evening. It wasn't a 'spoiler for me, because at that point my thoughts were somewhat similar.

I liked the overall 'storyline' and felt that it met the required timeline close enough to be believable and was for the most part a plausible adventure.

While it could be said that 'attempting to follow in C.S. Forester's footsteps' is an almost impossible 'trek'............that doesn't cover 'poorly written' and that is my summation of John Mahon's efforts in this particular case.

I was adjusting to Hornblower's 'indecisions' as a newly minted Captain in the early portion of this adventure, because he was 'ashore' and could be expected to be less than knowledgable of 'the terrain'. However, when he 'got to sea' I wasn't sure that we weren't in the French Navy (where everybody got a vote). This 'flaw' was never rectified.

When Joolz said "no attempt to create any sense of period either in speech or actions"........he nailed the other major flaw that I found.

As for 'Maria'............I can truthfully say "I don't even want to go there".

I'd like to see one or two established authors of HNF take this storyline and 'put their english on it'..........and I think we might have something worthy of the effort.

John Mahon's effort is unfortunately not it.
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Joolz on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 19:54

Glad it's not just me!

Incidentally, what did you think of the 'spinnaker issue'? It seems to me quite ludicrous, as I had always thought of it as a later innovation. My avenues of research do not extend much beyond Wikipedia which carries a reference to 1812 on USS Constitution. Is that reference true? How likely is it to be the same kind of sail as we know today? In any case, what benefit does a spinnaker have on a square rigger?
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by 80 Winters on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 21:35

I had discussed this issue with 'my Premier' (my fountain of knowledge) and she mentioned the yacht Sphinx as an early user of this sail and a possible link to its name. My research only showed what you've mentioned above:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinnaker

Maybe Bob can check with the U.S.S. Constitution folks there in Boston and see how they respond to that entry in the 1812 ships log.

Were that the only problem with this book.

Also, I didn't realize that Forester's sons were behind Enet, too bad they didn't have a writer's 'competition to fill this void.
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by reb01501 on Sun 23 Sep 2012, 15:54

@80 Winters wrote:Maybe Bob can check with the U.S.S. Constitution folks there in Boston and see how they respond to that entry in the 1812 ships log.
Sorry, but I have no contacts in the navy.

Thanks for your reviews. They came in time for me to cancel my purchase of the book. I'm still a bit intrigued to read it, but not at $8 a pop.

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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by pauljm on Fri 06 Dec 2013, 16:30

I think it was both foolish and disrespectful of Forester's wishes to try and complete "Hornblower and the Crisis". Forester clearly states in "The Hornblower Companion" while discussing the possibility of his death before he could finish "The Commodore": "...the thought of someone else trying it [to finish the story], the thought of the silly things that might be said, drove me into a panic."

Surely these concerns would apply equally to his last novel, and from the comments of the reviewers concerning "the Jamaican Affair of 1805", it would appear his fears of "silly things being said" were well-founded.
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Re: Hornblower book by John Mahon

Post by Alaric Bond on Fri 06 Dec 2013, 17:10

I hate the idea of anyone finishing work that I was unable to complete. However copious your notes, there are so many nuances that need to be implanted; small, apparently inconsequential incidents and facts, the relevance of which will only be revealed later. Two, or more, writers can work on the same book if it is factual, and certain other genres, like comedy, positively lend themselves to a team effort. But I would maintain that fiction should flow from one mind to another; it is very much a personal experience: the reader should be listening to a single voice not a group discussion.

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