Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. He became a full-time writer in 1964 after the successful publication of When the Lion Feeds, and has since written over thirty novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books are now translated into twenty-six languages.
The world is on the brink of World War I in Smith's epic of the Dark Continent. Big-game hunter and British army reserve officer Leon Courtney (of the Courtney family, last depicted by Smith in The Triumph of the Sun) also spies for the British in this graphic, colorful, and vivid novel of intrigue, romance, and violence. In short, Smith is up to his usual exciting stuff. A brutish German nobleman, Count von Meerbach plans to incite hard-line Boers to rebel against England; Courtney tries to stop it and, along the way, falls in love with Meerbach's beautiful mistress, who is also more than she appears to be. Africa in 1913 was a cruel and often brutal land but one of exquisite beauty, and Smith describes it in great detail. He is deeply sympathetic to the native peoples and their dealings with Europeans. Although sometimes overly florid when it comes to the language of romance, Smith here delivers for fans of good, action-filled historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/09.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
The highly popular historical novelist returns with another guaranteed best-seller. In the early 1900s, Second Lieutenant Leon Courtney decides to hang up his military career after a near-fatal mission in British East Africa (and a subsequent court-martial proceeding instigated by a vindictive superior office). He takes up big-game hunting, but that's only his cover: in reality, he is working as a spy, gathering intelligence for his uncle Penrod Ballantyne. Leon's target is Count Otto Von Meerbach, a German weapons manufacturer (the novel is set only a handful of years before World War I), but Leon doesn't count on falling in love with the target's seductive mistress, Eva. Can Leon foil Von Meerbach's plot to foment an African rebellion and, at the same time, protect the beautiful Eva? There is a reason Smith is a hugely popular writer of historical novels: his remarkable talent for re-creating historical periods and crafting characters we care about is virtually unmatched in the genre. Smith's novels of the Courtney and Ballantyne families (in 2005, he brought the two sagas together in The Triumph of the Sun) have been entertaining readers for nearly five decades, and if this novel is any indication, he is showing no signs of slowing down. -- David Pitt "Booklist" (03/15/2009)
Smith continues the saga of the Courtney family of Africa begun in 1964 with When the Lion Feeds. In this installment, Leon Courtney, ladies' man and former lieutenant in the King's African Rifles, becomes a professional big game hunter and safari guide in the years leading up to WWI. Among his clients are Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Teddy Roosevelt, and a spoiled German princess who is fond of the whip. The story really doesn't kick into gear until halfway through, on the eve of war, when Courtney's uncle, Brig. Gen. Penrod Ballantyne, commander of the British forces in East Africa, asks him to spy on his newest client, Count Otto von Meerbach, a German industrialist with a secret agenda. Courtney also begins an affair with Otto's mistress, Eva, who has a secret life of her own. Will Courtney defeat Otto's dastardly scheme and rescue Eva? Though the outcome is never in doubt, Smith manages to serve up adventure, history and melodrama in one thrilling package that will be eagerly devoured by series fans. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.