Sound of Thunder (Courtney #2), by Wilbur Smith

Four stars

Continuing the journey through Smith’s Courtney series is a highly educational and entertaining undertaking. With the focus still strongly on Sean, the story opens as the lead-up to the Second Boer War is imminent. Sean struggles to raise his son without a wife and, in true late-nineteenth century form, never spared the rod to spoil his young Dirk. As time passes, Sean took up a post for the English and fought the Boers at every turn. Unbeknownst to him, his twin brother, Garrick, is a high-ranking soldier in the military and pulled strings to put Sean in harm’s way, tired of living in his brother’s shadow. Skillfully, Sean manoeuvred out on the battlefield and met a mysterious woman, Ruth, and they conceive a child in a thunderstorm. Though enamoured with Sean (as most women seem to be), Ruth fled and returned to her husband, somewhat ashamed of her actions. Sean eventually realised that Ruth is married to his fellow soldier, Saul, and they battle together until the latter’s death. Sean, torn between loyalty to his friend and his own personal wants, eventually married Ruth and they forge a connection ahead of their daughter’s birth. After the War is over, the Courtneys turned to other battles, particularly in the political arena and begin looking for new and exciting adventures. Sean and Garrick bury their animosity, while Dirk watched as his half-sister, Storm, grew and became the apple of her father’s eye, which only fuels his jealousy. Dirk fled the family estate, vowing to bring down the Courtneys at any cost. Smith composes another masterful piece here and enthralls readers with his storytelling abilities.

As this historical saga moves on, Smith shows the reader the complexities found within a single family and how each member can have a background all their own. While the reader has seen only snippets of Garrick, Sean has become a central character of the two novels and his decisions, while not entirely neutral, have helped shape the story and everyone around the table. It is fascinating to see how Smith moves the story forward with the help of history and the subplots with which Sean is involved. There is surely much more to come and the patient reader will discover how rich and intricate Smith’s writing can be, given the time.

Kudos, Mr. Smith for this wonderful continuation to the series. I am hooked and cannot wait to see how the first collection of Courtney stories will end.