Wilbur Smith

A grand-master of twentieth-century fiction, South African novelist Wilbur Smith sold enough novels to fill Wembley Stadium twice over in a career spanning more than half a decade and is best known for his Courtney series, beginning with When the Lion Feeds, and his Egyptian novels.

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The twentieth volume of Smith's sweeping Courtney saga finds Paul Courtney enlisting in Napoleon's army on a continent-hopping quest to restore his family's honour.
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The ninth propulsive instalment in Wilbur Smith’s bestselling Ancient Egypt series finds Piay racing through the desert on a quest to solve a millennia-old riddle to secure the future of Egypt.
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Ancient Egyptian Series in Order

Set in a land in thrall to the power of the ancient Pharaohs, a kingdom built on gold, a legend shattered by greed all seen through the eyes of slave Taita.

River God
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The Seventh Scroll
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Warlock
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The Quest
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Desert God
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Pharaoh
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The New Kingdom
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Titans of War
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Testament
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The Ballantyne Series in Order

The bitter racial struggles and drive for colonial wealth in Rhodesia’s history are the backdrop for this epic dynastical saga. 

Call of the Raven
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A Falcon Flies
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Men of Men
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The Angels Weep
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The Leopard Hunts in Darkness
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King of Kings
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The Courtney Family Series in Order

The fortunes, and misfortunes of a sprawling, ambitious family are played out across two centuries in this, Smith’s first and best-known series, arranged in order of publication.

When the Lion Feeds
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The Sound of Thunder
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A Sparrow Falls
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The Burning Shore
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Power of the Sword
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Rage
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A Time to Die
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Golden Fox
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Birds of Prey
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Monsoon
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Blue Horizon
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The Triumph of the Sun
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Assegai
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Golden Lion
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War Cry
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The Tiger’s Prey
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Courtney's War
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King of Kings
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Hector Cross Series in Order

Major Hector Cross, an ex-SAS operative and the owner of a security company Cross Bow Security and a man not to be trifled with.

Those in Peril
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Vicious Circle
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Predator
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Other Books by Wilbur Smith

From lost civilisations to supersonic aerial combat, the Second World War to contemporary espionage and much more.

The Dark of the Sun
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Gold Mine
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The Sunbird
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Eagle in the Sky
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The Eye of the Tiger
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Cry Wolf
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Hungry as the Sea
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Wild Justice
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Elephant Song
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On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures
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Children's Books by Wilbur Smith

Cloudburst
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Thunderbolt
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Shockwave
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Prey Zone
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Prey Zone: The Serpent's Lair
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Biography

Wilbur Smith declared that ‘you have to be at least slightly crazy to write fiction for a living’ but there’s nothing crazy about the way the author approached his dizzyingly successful literary career.

Having taken to heart the advice of his publisher early on to 'write what you know' Wilbur Smith’s novels are rooted in the places and people he not only knew but loved and felt passionately about. He is avowedly not just a South African writer, but a novelist whose work is dominated by the history, landscape and people of Africa.

Thankfully for his writing career, Smith’s life was anything but ordinary. Married four times, near-bankrupt at twenty-four with a CV that could list cattle ranch worker, police officer and accountant amongst his experience (His first career choice after graduating had in fact been as a journalist but his father declared 'Don’t be a bloody fool... you’ll starve to death. Go and find yourself a real job'.), when Smith finally turned to fiction it wasn’t hard to find topics to inspire him.


Good Days

What Smith calls his ‘good days’ came with his second novel (his first having been roundly rejected). He took his cues from close to home, thinking of his storytelling grandfather (a man who had 'a magnificent pair of moustaches and could hit a spittoon at five paces without spilling a drop of tobacco juice.') and gave his name, Courtney, to his protagonist in the monumentally successful When the Lion Feeds. The novel is still regarded as one of his finest; with one critic saying it is 'one of the handful that ought to endure among the true classics of adventure writing.'

Book after book followed with Smith developing his first novel into a successful series, following the Courtney family dynasty from the 1860’s through to the 1980’s, as well as writing his Ballantyne novels, following a parallel family during the same time-period in Zimbabwe and many stand-alone novels to boot.


From Hunter to Desert God

In his last twenty years, Smith mainly focused his attention on writing his Taita series set in ancient Egypt (originating with the novel River God) and his ‘Hector Cross’ books following an ex-SAS operative turned private security officer.

A man who never sat still, an inveterate hunter of big game and wild fisherman, one interviewer called Smith a ‘Byronic author-as-action-man’ and the label is appropriate for the heroes of his fiction too. His novels are unashamedly grand, sprawling, adventure stories packed full of derring-do and eye-opening sexual encounters. They are also frequently cited as Waterstones’ reader’s favourites.

Towards the end of his long life Smith agreed to work with various collaborators in a new publishing deal to allow more of his ideas to see the light of day. He said: 'I have plenty more books in my head, clamouring to be written, and I have a creative ecosystem around me that will make this a reality. These are the very best of days.'

Wilbur Smith died aged 88 on Saturday 13 November 2021 in his home in Cape Town, having left a lasting legacy of enthralling adventure fiction to a very grateful book-reading public.

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