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Assegai Hardcover – May 12, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312567243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312567248
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
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From Booklist

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

More About the Author

Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. After the successful publication of WHEN THE LION FEEDS in 1964 he became a full-time writer, and has since written 30 novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books have been translated into twenty-six different languages

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Customer Reviews

His character's are always complex as are his story lines.
Debbie Salvesen
This is the only book that I was unable to finish in a very long time.
Amazon Customer
Maybe it DID get better but I'm afraid I'll never find out.
Ron Braithwaite

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Online on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First, I've read all of Wiber Smith's books. Every single one. So now I have to wait until he published new ones to get my fix. I'd consider this one above average, but not fabulous. Its better than his last two, but not as good as the earlier books in the Courntey or Ballantyne series.

Second, be aware the some of these early reviews on Amazon are plants. They either come from the publisher or other promoters. Mine does not.

Third, Assegai is a good book that is more in-line with Smith's work. Its back to the bacis of developing Africa, the relationship between Whites and Blacks, and between the Germans, Boers and British. Compared to some of Smith's other works I'd consider this one average. If you've read any of his African series featuring the Courtney's or Ballantyne, this is a similar concept all over again.

For readers new to smith, I loved the first three books of the Egyptian series, (River God, Seventh Scroll & Warlock). The last one, Quest, was terrible and shifted way to far into mysticism. Avoid it.

Triumph of the Sun was not very good. It was fine until about the last 50 pages, when it became clear the editor must have phoned up Smith and said "We need the book ASAP", because instead of the story playing out, he just summarized everything into a conclusion. Even the narative changed to speed things up. The long build up to a climax was completely deflated.

I would definately recommend the Courtney Series and their spin offs. The original series begins with "When the Lion Feeds". The entire second series of the Courtney's That begins with "Buring Shore" is also great. In the third series, the first three nautical books are also excellent, (Birds of Prey, Monsoon, and Blue Horizon).
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Andersen on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While Wilbur Smith writes engrossing novels, his real talent is in the description of his native Africa. One only has to read a few chapters of any of his novels to understand his love for his native land. Assegai does not fail in this regard. The descriptions of the hunts for African game are enough to make the reader feel he/she is on safari with Leon Courtney.

The time line of this novel falls just before the beginning of World War I. Readers who have followed the Courtney saga will recognize this to be about the same time frame as The Burning Shore. As there is no mention of Sean Courtney or Michael Courtney in this novel, one has to assume it is the family name, but the English Courtneys, not the South African Courtneys. Penrod Ballantyne, Leon Courtney's uncle, was featured in The Triumph of the Sun.

For those who are new to Wilbur Smith's work, and from reading some of the other reviews there are people who have not discovered Smith, I would suggest that you start the Courtney series with Birds of Prey, not necessarily When the Lion Feeds (the first Courtney book Smith penned). Then move to Monsoon, Blue Horizon and then pick up the beginning, When the Lion Feeds, The Sound of Thunder and A Sparrow Falls. Then the reader can move to The Courtneys of Africa series.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By TechThriller on May 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I think Smith's best books were written in the 60s and 70s. Shout at the Devil, Cry Wolf, Diamond Hunters and Eye of the Tiger were Smith at his best. Starting in the 80s however, Mr. Smith's writing took on a political bent, his view of the ideal world, and his obvious nostalgia for the long dead British Empire and its past glory.

Assegai starts off in a fairly promising manner, but soon lapses into cliched circumstances. There are glimmerings of vintage Smith, the elephant and lion hunts, the poetic description of his much beloved Africa etc, but somehow it all seems forced this go around. The pace seems to pick up somewhat in the latter half, but then again, the characters seem paper thin and don't hold your interest for long.

I do miss the dry humor from his earlier books. Who can forget the lovable rascals from 'Shout at the devil' or 'Cry wolf'? In my opinion, that was Smith at his very best. Sadly, I suspect he's now past his prime, and like an aging wine left too long in the cellar, his newer efforts only maintain glimmers of their former glory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By V. Benbrook on October 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I usually love Wilbur Smith, but not this book. After the Triumph of the Sun (which was one of his most gripping books, a lot of adventure, you never know what's going to happen, you can't wait to turn pages ext...) I expected a lot more. I mean, the beginning is quite good it promises a lot, but then the core of the book it's just about hunting! I know he likes to describe some hunting scenes in every book, but here the hunting is more than half the story, nothing gripping or exiting, just one perfect brain shot after the other with some human casualties every now and then. It goes on and on with the killing of every possible species of Africa, elephants, buffalos, lions, more buffalos, alligators, lions, elephants again, pigs, whatever moves ext... The real story starts when the book is almost over, and doesn't last long enough; it's neither intriguing nor intricate to the point where it's almost predictable.
This book has a lot of brain shots but few brain shocks, the reader remains with a flat line.
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