I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my friend’s bedroom. The year was 1976. I was surveying her bookshelf. My fingers hovered over Wilbur Smith’s When the Lion Feeds. She nodded. “You’ll like that one”. I hauled it off the shelf. I read it. I didn’t like it. I LOVED it. It was Wilbur Smith’s first book and the first in the Courtney series.
World Book Day falls on Shakespeare’s birth and death day, 23 April. The UK, however celebrate their “World Book Day” on a different day each year – in 2017 on the 2 March – although it is actually the first Thursday in March. People are encouraged to dress as characters in a book.
Anyway, on World Book Day (UK version) I received Wilbur Smith’s latest book, War Cry. This is the 14th book in the Courtney series. Like the others it stands independently and one can follow even if one doesn’t know the whole story, but having read the others enriches the story. I didn’t start it immediately, but once I started it, I read through it compulsively whenever I had the time. It took two weekends basically.
War Cry starts out briefly in Germany, then moves to colonial Kenya some time after World War I and before World War II. Our hero, Leon Courtney, has a lovely daughter, Saffron, a spirited lass who will be schooled at Roedean, Johannesburg so that she will be able to take over the largest, best run estate in Kenya.
War Cry follows her exploits as a young woman completing her schooling at Roedean, England so she can take up a place at Oxford. Saffron falls in love. World War II breaks out.
The book ends inconclusively. Read the next one when it comes out.
Other than the inconclusive ending, the book is delightful. One doesn’t have to have been following all the previous books in the series to make sense of this one. This feels like vintage Smith and it kept me engaged until it was finished. I usually read three or four books at a time but I was sufficiently caught up in it to do no (or at least only a little) other reading until it was complete.
This one’s a winner.
- Title: War Cry
- Author: Wilbur Smith with David Churchill
- Publisher: Harper Collins
- Date: 2017
- Format: Hardcover
- Genre: Fiction
- Recommended Selling Price: Not known (available from R205 0nline)
- ISBN: 978-0-00-753586-6