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Blue Horizon by Wilbur Smith
This is a compelling read and well worthy of a space in my bookshelf, it was a nail biter right from page one through to the very end of the full 778 paged tome.
If you like Wilbur Smith you will really enjoy this book it is full of mystic intrigue and murder, with a taste of love interests, and hardship, loyalty revenge and a sense of justice. The book is jammed packed with historical interest and factual detail about the area in which this book is based the Svelte of Africa. It is about trading in the 1700s and the Keizer's outpost in league with the Dutch.
The story revolves around the Courtney Family who are a group of Traders of anything from gold, gems, ivory, silk to spices. But never men or women slaves. They drew a line there.
To start from the beginning you find out a small bit about the novelist himself, this is an excerpt on the front flyleaf of the book.
Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. He became a full time writer in 1964 after a successful publication of when the lions feed, and has since written nearly thirty novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books are now translated into twenty-six languages.
Dorian Courtney half brother to Tom He is also Muslim.
Sarah Courtney wife to Tom
Jim Courtney son of Tom and Sarah
Mansur Courtney son of Dorian Courtney
Louisa to become Jim Courtney's wife
George Jim and Louisa's son
Zamu trusted friend
Yasmini , wife to Dorian and mother to Mansur.
Later there follows
Kadem Enemy to the Courtney clan
Verity to become wife to Mansur
Xhia Enemy of the Courtney's, He is also scout and tracker for the Keizer and the Dutch VOC.
Bakkat Friend to Courtney family and tracker, enemy of Xhia
Koots deadly enemy to the Courtney's
Keyser Colonel to VOC A very nasty person and enemy to Jim and Dorian Courtney
Others and there are many.
I could name everyone in the book but would soon loose interest as there are so many characters involved in this book that I could not possibly do them justice. All have a relevant part to play and some with more sinister intent than others.
The story unfolds with the fishing expedition mounted by Jim and Mansur and Zamu for a fish by the name of Big Julie, who up till this moment had evaded many years of fishermen trying to capture her. We are led through the experience in some detail and their fight to get control of her and their near plight in being mowed down in their little boat by a prison ship full of slaves and convicts.
I found this story was worth the read and would happily have read a book about their fishing exploits but Wilbur Smith did not leave it there, he goes into detail which does not detract from the reading experience about how Jim spies Louisa in the ship that nearly mows their little fishing vessel down and his fight to rescue and claim her as his own. After this the story heats up and we are taken through the following stages where Jim meets up with Louisa who is on the prison ship. Their love and her escape and the following problems this incurs.
Once this part of the story is told and I refuse to go into too much detail as it would detract from the tale as is told so much better by Wilbur Smith.
Jim ,Dorian and the rest of their families find themselves running from the VOC and the Keiser. To save their families and their amassed fortunes they take to the African Svelte and form an alliance with the Nguni. Their journey takes them through many battles and right across the African wasteland into a lagoon called Nativity Bay where the two elders built a fort and called it Fort Auspice, this was to become their new trading post where they would settle.
But not before Tom and Bakkat and Louisa set off on a different trail to escape sure death if they are caught by the Keyser. Tom and Dorian and the rest of the family and group of workers take the carts full to the brim on a different route down to the sea to join their trading vessels and war ships and reload all their goods and chattels into the holds and themselves and take to the sea to escape.
Where do they go? There is a place on the shore many miles from their home which Tom's family charted many years before called Nativity Bay; they decided that they would all meet back there once they had lost the Keyser's men.
Separating the Keyser's men, with the hope that in their search for Jim and Mansur Courtney, they will loose sight of their hunt for Tom and Dorian. Who as we are soon to find out he has a blood lust for, and a very big score to settle with the whole family.
He has hired other men Koots and Kadem who also have scores to settle with this family. There are many battles fought during this time of escape and much tracking and killing of Elephants and other wild beasts which Wilbur Smith goes into a lot of detail with also. So if you are of a faint heart maybe this book would not suit.
During the time that this takes to get to the new fort hold, Jim and company wage war on their enemies and go through many battles through the barren Svelte of the African wilderness. We get to here about many stories on the African wilderness and all its inhabitants including the big battle with the Nguni warriors, and the alliance that is forged with the Courtney family.
In the mean time we here a bit more about the struggle that Tom and Dorian have to go through and their building of the fort and the realization that Dorian is now a king to his people. This is because he is only half brother to Tom and His father was the king of a large tribe. There are more battles to be fought and more struggles to be met, another member or two to join the family and the final part of the story unfolds with quite a surprising outcome.
I loved this book and found it very difficult to put down I do not think I have left any spoilers as I think the book is so jammed full of information and different battles and problems the families face that it would be hard to do so. This is a book full of adventure love and intrigue and deep devastating hatred that really grips you from the very first page to the very last and I found it captivating loving every page. I have as far as I can remember never read a Wilbur Smith book before but after this one I will definitely be reading more.
Prices range from £5 upwards depending where you go, but this book has been sitting on my shelf for some time and for the lack of other reading material I found myself choosing this really well written and interesting book as a last resort, which really in my present frame of mind is no slight on Wilbur Smith, and more a slight toward me as a now devoted reader of this accomplished writers novels. I really do not understand why I have never picked up his books to read before.
I have to admit, Wilbur Smith is one of my favourite authors so my opinion of his books is going to be coloured by this. Ever since I first read one of his books (Shout at the Devil) some twenty years ago, I've been hooked. You always know what you're going to get with Wilbur. Epic tales, exotic locations, larger than life characters, fascinating plots, intrigue, betrayal, revenge, the victory of good over evil, sex, drugs and Rock and Roll (OK, maybe I lied about the Rock and Roll). Every book is the same; every book is different. Wilbur's strength is in building several parallel storylines, each a fascinating story in its own right, and intertwining them so that each history impacts the others. Wilbur's South African ancestry where he was hardly apartheid's most devoted supporter, also shows in his writing. His heroes are the very epitome of political correctness. They treat all their friends, colleagues and "employees", whatever their race, colour or creed, with dignity and equality. Slavery is anathema. His writing is vivid, sometimes a little too vivid. He doesn't hold back on the graphic detail and it's often all too easy to build a picture in your mind that can be a little much if you are on the squeamish side. It does do to have a fairly strong stomach. Many of his stories have surrounded the history of dynasties. Blue Horizon is another in the history of the Courtneys. This is yet another story of the early history of the family and carries on where "Monsoon" left off. The Courtneys the subject of this chapter are Jim and his cousin Mansur, respectively the sons of Tom and Dorian Courtney. Mansur and his father, Dorian, are Muslims. This may seem strange, they being Courtn
eys but the reason has a bearing on the story. Their destiny will decided by factors beyond the the borders of South Africa. Before the end of the story, events will have covered the length of the west coast of Africa, from Red Sea to the Cape. At the end of "Monsoon", Tom and Dorian had arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. What is to become Capetown is a Dutch garrison. The Courtneys are tolerated as successful traders even though they are not Dutch themselves. The colony is governed by Governor van de Witten and his right-hand man, Colonel Stephanus Keyser. Corruption is rife and they will turn any situation to their own financial advantage. Into Jim's life comes Louisa Leuven, a survivor of the plague sweeping Europe. However, she is not a survivor of her betrayal and false conviction by powerful and influential figures on her native Holland, who have taken advantage of her and then contrived to have her deported as a convict to the new southern states of Africa, Holland's Botany Bay, aboard the nightmare of a convict ship. It will come as no surprise that this is "Love at first sight" for Jim and nothing on Earth will prevent him from freeing her from her Hell. Of course, this will bring him into direct conflict with the local corrupt Dutch authorities. Subsequent events involve a chase across inhospitable lands, with the Courtneys pursued by a troop of Dutch soldiers, lead by an indefatigable Bushman tracker, Xhia, who has unresolved issues with the Courtneys' native Bushman, Bakkat. The two groups encounter herds of elephants, ferocious native Nguni tribes. Time is taken out to hunt elephants and fight battles with the natives, o
ne by choice the other by necessity. Whilst all this is going on, events at the other end of Africa are also playing their part. Dorian and Mansur's past is catching up with them. Dorian is compelled to play his part in Oman where he will meet up with his own adversaries. Wars are to be fought, both on land and at sea. Eventually all the strands come back together again. How it ends you will have to find out for yourself. To say too much would be to spoil the read and that is one thing I don't want to do. This is a big compulsive story. Weighing in at a very full 778 pages, it will take you a little more than a single sitting. But it's worth it, every word, every line, every page. And compulsive it certainly is. I was reading one evening and around 10.30pm it was time for bed. "Just one more chapter" says I. The next time I looked at my watch it was 2.15am! Where had the time gone?????? If you are a Wilbur Smith fan as I am you will not be disappointed. The master has lost none of his touch. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
Set on the Southern tip of Africa At the close of Wilbur Smith's bestselling MONSOON, Tom Courtney and his brother Dorian battled on the high seas and finally reached the Cape of Good Hope to start life afresh.