Examination for Lieutenant
the Royal Navy of the 1790s, the most feared figure was the famous
Captain "Dreadnought" Foster - a fire-eating officer who
makes the heroic Horatio Nelson look like a desk-bound, pen pusher.
given the chance of saving the crew of a supply ship or have them
die denying the food to the enemy, he chooses for them to die.
doesn't exactly enamour him with considerate captains such as Sir
Edward Pellew - Horatio Hornblower's boss.
this second adventure in the Hornblower series, the duplicitous
Spaniards have just changed their political stance from being anti-French
to neutral. This means Pellew's frigate, the Indefatigable, has
to leave port quickly without taking on new supplies to ease the
food shortage on the British fleet.
fact, things are much worse than that as the Spaniards are now secretly
attacking smaller British supply ships and capturing the badly needed
food. The losses are hitting the British fleet badly and strict
rationing causes major discipline problems.
top of trying to keep his sailors occupied, Hornblower is trying
to study for his lieutenant's examination, which will take him out
of the midshipman's ranks.
the chance to take a small vessel to Oran to pick up live cattle
and fresh food, Hornblower unknowingly sails into a plague-infested
city and has to work out how to not only get supplies to the starving
fleet, but also prevent the possibility of the disease getting aboard.
unfortunately, means getting offside with Dreadnought Foster - who
just so happens to be on his examination board.
again, the money put into making this series look so good - and
genuine - has been very well spent. There is plenty of action, the
ships are magnificent, there are plentiful numbers of extras and
key characters, and the scripting is excellent.
the relationship between Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsay is very
well stated and both Dennis Lawson, as Foster, and Ian McNiece -
doing his now regular role of a pompous bureacrat - are superb.
series gets better and better.