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Monsoon (Courtney Family Adventures) Hardcover – June, 1999

193 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

South Africa's master storyteller Wilbur Smith has been writing his exotic historical sagas for so long that he's in danger of being taken for granted and typecast as an author of adventure stories for and about overgrown boys. But there's a lot more to Smith's books than mere blood, thunder, swash, and buckle. He might not be as thoughtful or as philosophical as Patrick O'Brian, but his stories have a wider geographical and chronological range and lots more action.

Monsoon is the latest chronicle in Smith's Courteney series. In it, Hal Courteney is sent by the East India Trading Company to attack Arab pirates who are harassing trade off the East African coast. He takes three of his four sons, but one of them absconds to Bombay and another is taken prisoner by the Arabs. Although the mission is an eventual success, Hal himself is seriously injured and returns to England. His son Tom becomes the real hero of the story, gallantly rescuing his captured brother from the infidel.

Like his heroes, Smith's prose pulls no punches: "Aboli swung the axe in a wide, flashing arc. It took the man full in the side of his neck, severing it cleanly. His head toppled forward and rolled down his chest, while his trunk stood erect before it slumped to the deck. The air escaped from his lungs in a whistling blast of frothy blood from the open windpipe." It may not be pretty, but it certainly grabs your attention. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Tenth in the swashbuckling saga of the bold and adventuresome Courtneys, this epic sequel to Birds of Prey finds Sir Hal Courtney and his sons up to their bloody sword arms in piracy, intrigue, treachery and civil war in late 17th and early 18th century East Africa and Arabia. Once again the veteran author creates a masterful tale of action and suspense set on the high seas, arid deserts and steaming jungles. Wealthy English landowner Sir Hal earned his fortune as a sea captain with the East India Company. To protect his overseas investments, he becomes a privateer to combat Arab pirates attacking company ships from bases in Zanzibar and Madagascar. Accompanied by three of his four sons, Sir Hal embarks on a desperate voyage that will bring either glory and treasure or ruin. Sir Hal is a skilled leader and a good father, but his sons are a mixed lot, bitter rivals in love and war. William, the eldest son, left in charge of the English estate, is a greedy blackguard and a brutal poltroon. Tom is a fearless leader while his twin brother, Guy, is a bitter and vengeful schemer. Young Dorian, captured by the Arabs and raised as a Muslim, is resourceful and cunning. Sir Hals voyage brings the Courtney family both wealth and catastrophe. One son is murdered, another becomes a fugitive, a third an abusive betrayer and the fourth is abandoned and forlorn. Clever plot twists and lavish historical detail attend the siblings adventures as they battle pirates, slavers, assassins, their own government and each other. A smooth blend of adventure and romance, the novel is an atmospheric trip through the fierce mysteries of the Dark Continent and the Arabian seas.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Courtney Family Adventures
  • Hardcover: 613 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (June 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031220339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312203399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John R. Linnell on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes the Courtney clan goes looking for trouble and sometimes it finds them, but throughout this book, all of the various members of the clan are in a turmoil of one kind or another to the great entertainment of the reader.
While Monsoon is a sequel to Birds of Prey, it is also a prequel to the many other books of the Courtney family that Mr. Smith wrote some time ago, beginning with When the Lion Hunts, I believe. There should be at least one more book to complete the time line to the Sean Courtney era and beyond, maybe more. Tom and Dorian Courtney are worthy parts of the Courtney lineage and they encounter, between the pages of this book, more perils than Pauline ever thought of. The action is fairly non-stop, both on land and on sea; the romancing is intense when it occurs; deceit and treachery are constant companions, some bad things happen to good people and some very bad things happen to some very bad people. No one does this type of story better than Wilbur Smith and he still has the hop on his fastball.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
MONSOON continues the swashbuckling saga of seagoing adventurer Hal Courtney begun in BIRDS OF PREY, also reviewed by me (5 stars) on this website.
As MONSOON opens, Hal has been landlocked on his English country manor for a couple of decades. He's fathered 4 sons (William, Tom, Guy, and Dorian) by three different wives, all now dead. Yearning for one last seafaring exploit, he accepts a commission from the reigning British monarch, William III, and the East India Company to mount a punitive expedition to the Indian Ocean to eradicate a band of cutthroat pirates, led by the evil Jangiri, that have lately taken sore toll of Company shipping and profits. So, leaving his heir, William, to manage the family holdings, Hal sails away on the "Seraph" with his three youngest sons and his three old comrades from BIRDS, Aboli, Ned Tyler and Big Daniel, to confront the buccaneers off the coast of East Africa in the waters surrounding the Spice Islands.
During the first several pages of MONSOON, we're introduced to son Tom, who's persuaded a saucy scullery maid to share her amorous favors with him and his fraternal twin Guy, while the younger Dorian stands watch. And where is this steamy tryst taking place? Why, on his grandfather's sarcophagus in the burial crypt of the estate chapel, of course. This startling introduction of Tom to the reader should presage the fact that, by the end of the book, he's the main character and hero. Well, subtlety is not one of author Wilbur Smith's strongpoints.
I sometimes think that Smith develops his plots by stream of consciousness writing. He zigzags flamboyantly from one outrageous situation to the next.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By goodoldmac on May 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
To add my two cents worth to a comment from an earlier reviewer of this book...Wilbur Smith is the best novelist writing today..period!!"Monsoon"is a worthy sucessor to "Birds of Prey" and another welcome (but too long in coming...) addition to the "Smith list" "Monsoon" continues the story of the early Courntey seafarers, Sir Henry and his sons, Tom Guy and Dorian. As is common in Smith's book there is a bit of tension (shall we say) between some of the brothers. Sir Henry, after 4 years away from the sea, must undertake, at the crowns request, an extremely dangerous undertaking, and takes his sons along on the voyage with consequences for all, including death, loss of fortune and capture and more adventures than any 4 men should have to undertake. This book takes the Courtney's to Africa for the first time, and Smith's love and awe for this land shows in every line.When he describes the beauty and granduer and yes..violence of the "Dark Continent" you can see and feel it as you find yourself walking along with his characters..(telling which characters and the circumstances would be giving away too much of the plot..)If you have never read a Wilbur Smith book, deny yourself no longer..hurry down to your bookstore or amazon..or even your library and get this book..then read the other 26 books..and discover why Wilbur Smith fans are so loyal..but Mr. Smith, if you should read these lines..PLEASE dont make your readers wait two years for the next one....
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Simply stated, Monsoon is a page turner in the clasic style of Wilbur Smith. Birds of Prey was wonderful, and Smith begins Monsoon where Birds of Prey left off, without missing a beat. The narrative is riveting - I couldn't put the book down, and was sad to see it come to an end. This was the perfect read while soaking in the sun on a tropical beach. I hope we do not have too long to wait until Smith treats us to the further adventures of the Courtney family!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By None on January 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is the best of the wilbur smith novel!. There is no writer that I know of who can write about adventure based on the african continent the way Smith does it.
I was born in Zanzibar and when Mr Smith paints the picturesque harbour of Zanzibar I can see his vivid and graphic description just matches my own memory of the Zazibar harbour.
Overall the story is extremely tense and will keep you turning the pages as fast as you can.
I hope we do not have to wait for a long time to get the sequel
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