Wilbur Smith has been my favorite author since I read his first novel, “When the Lion Feeds” in 1966. He was born and raised in my home country now known as Zimbabwe in Africa, and my best friend Liz’s big sister Diana typed the manuscript for him.
In those days long before the Internet or even computers, the manuscript was banged out on a typewriter and errors had to be erased and typed over. Wilbur Smith submitted the completed manuscript to thirteen publishers and it was rejected by the first twelve. He persevered, and the thirteenth publisher decided to take a chance on his success. The novel achieved outstanding sales and launched Wilbur Smith’s illustrious and fabulously successful career.
Africa is a vibrant and violent land, and Wilbur Smith manages to transport you there and capture its essence. “When the Lion Feeds”, the first of a series of twelve books about the Courtney family, is still my most favorite of all his thirty three books. Set in South Africa toward the end of the nineteenth century, the novel includes action in the Zulu wars, gold fever, debauchery, violence, horror, romance, raw sex and tragedy. Smith’s heros are larger than life and his vivid descriptions place you in the scenes and leave you feeling like you’ve been physically beaten.
All Smith’s novels are written around actual historical events and include the Ballantyne series which moves from Zimbabwe across Africa to Egypt and spans several generations. The Egyptian series takes place in ancient Egypt at the time of the Pharoahs. Other hard-hitting action-packed thrillers include lost cities, wars, the lust for diamonds, shipping mishaps, and his most recent novel, “Those in Peril” revolves around modern day piracy off the coast of Africa.
Wilbur Smith’s attention to detail and vast knowledge of historical events is testimony to the many hours he must spend doing research. I can highly recommend all of his books. Readers will not be disappointed by any of them.