It is always a pleasure to return to the world of the Courtney family, especially when Wilbur Smith is the literary tour guide. In this twentieth novel in the Courtney series, Smith tosses things back to the late 18th century once more, as the American War of Independence looms, as well as some other topical adventures for the current Courtney to face. Full of history, drama, and just a little humour, Wilbur Smith proves that he is one of the greatest historical storytellers I have read. A return to greatness after some lacklustre collaborative work.
It’s 1774 and Rob Courtney is still coming into his own. Having spent much of his life along the east coast of Africa, Rob knows little of the exciting life that awaits him on the open seas. He decides to put his dreams into reality after a death in the family and sets off aboard a ship for England, with only a family heirloom to accompany him.
Rob discovers that life in Africa is but a speck of what is going on in the world. He finds himself. lapping up a life of adventure, though soon comes to understand that dreams cost money and he is soon to run out. With an offer to join the British Navy, Rob finds himself back on the open waters and sailing towards the American colonies, where an uprising is beginning to make things quite tense. It is then that Rob Courtney finds true adventure, following in the steps of his ancestors, who never turned away from danger and risk.
Arriving on colonial shores, Rob begins fighting to keep Britain in change, while being seduced by the beauty of a woman who wants to show him how gracious she can be. As Rob gets more ensconced with the battle, two distant relatives emerge on the other side of the fight; young men who will stop at nothing to toss off the yoke of British rule. Rob’s eyes are soon opened up to many new perspectives when he sets sail for other parts of the Americas, including the importance of freedom and that love cannot always follow societal rules. A stunning addition to the Courtney series, Wilbur Smith does well with a little help from a secondary author.
I remember discovering the wonders of the Courtney family years ago, as Wilbur Smith was setting the groundwork for some of these other novels. The stories were always rich with history, social revelations, and stunning narrative development. Smith has not lost his gusto, adding depth to the pieces all these years later. I can only hope there are a few more to come, as they surely capture the reader’s attention and force them to think a little harder.
Wilbur Smith has tackled some of the thorny issues related to African colonisation and how the white minority wrestled with their role generations ago. In this piece, the story looks not to colonisation, but rather the slave trade and uses some strong narrative pathway to express how things were back in the latter part of the 18th century. Smith keeps things on edge with some wonderful characters, each of whom play an important role in telling how things progressed, while using historical events to keep the reader connected with fact. Plot twists throughout with some detailed discussions of societal norms force the reader to remain attune with what is going on, as they piece together much of what Smith has expressed in past books over a handle of generations. Long live the Courtneys, which Wilbur Smith seems keen to do!
Kudos, Mr. Smith, for another great piece. Keep them coming as best you can!