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Called “as gripping and realistic a sea tale as you are likely to run across” by the New York Times, C. S. Forester’s Beat to Quarters finds Hornblower faced with a near-impossible mission off the coast of Nicaragua.

June 1808, somewhere west of Nicaragua — a site suitable for spectacular sea battles. The Admiralty has ordered Captain Horatio Hornblower, now in command of the thirty-six-gun HMS Lydia, to form an alliance against the Spanish colonial government with an insane Spanish landowner; to find a water route across the Central American isthmus; and “to take, sink, burn or destroy” the fifty-gun Spanish ship of the line Natividad or face court-martial. A daunting enough set of orders — even if the happily married captain were not woefully distracted by the passenger he is obliged to take on in Panama: Lady Barbara Wellesley.

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