If you get the time (and are a lucky owner of the Hornblower boxed set) listening to the commentary track for the final episode, Duty. Andrew Grieve (the director), Andrew Benson (producer), and John Mollo (costume designer/historical advisor) give a wonderfully frank and entertaining look into the making of the episode, and others in the series. It’s also a tad bittersweet, as the three talk with great confidence about making further episodes based off of Forrester’s novels. Sadly, this was not to be.
I’ve only read Mr. Midshipman Hornblower so far, but I’ve watched the whole TV series. Amidst the obvious adventure, coming of age, and friendship is the sheer tragedy. How Hornblower becomes blind with rage and hatred before a fight. Later on, when he’s asked by Maria to tell her a couple of his seafaring stories, he cannot speak of them. C.S. Forrester’s story truly captures the rawness of a boy becoming a man in the midst of brutality and loss. Hornblower is able to overcome even his own suicidal feelings in the beginning because of that blind loyalty he has to his duty. That sense of duty that he essentially worships is what saves him. It’s both tragic and magical, really.