Dutchess and the Devil
is on the up and up for young Horatio Hornblower. He's an acting-lieutenant
and manages to pull off the remarkable capture of a French ship
without the loss of a single man.
is despite having a maniac midshipman Hunter as his deputy - a man
who just loves killing or injuring people.
to a high-level dinner, Hornblower meets an English duchess who
somewhat bedazzles the young man with her direct style and lack
from winning accolades for the capture, Hornblower must now sail
through enemy waters and return the duchess, despatches and the
prize ship back to England. A dangerous job, but the prize money
will make him considerably richer.
on the foggy return journey the ship finds itself in the middle
of the Spanish fleet and, when the mist clears, there is no escape.
to a seaside prison, the internal disagreements between Hornblower
and Hunter become open conflict. To add to his woes, an old friend
is dangerously ill and the duchess - to whom he has given secret
despatches - is very friendly with the Spanish commander.
usual, in this terrific series, everything is just about perfect.
The uniforms, the ships, the locations and the acting.
Gruffudd IS Hornblower. He has made the role his that any future
attempts to film the character will have this placed as the very
Lunghi is marvellous as the over-the-top duchess and she swings
brilliantly between raucous and friendly, or coquettish and secretive.
Lunghi definitely enlivens this tale.
is played as a psychotic brute by Christopher Fulford and the characterisation
works a treat. There is nothing you want to do more than smack him
around the head or throw him in irons for his pig-headed aggression
that endangers them all.
Pickup is the urbane and charming Spanish prison commander. He is
benevolent and, until crossed by Hunter, treats the jailed British
Duchess and the Devil has it all. Tension, internal bickering, suspense
and full-on action. It is the most multi-layered of the plots, so
far, and is a worthy addition to the collection.