Best Review of Blue Horizon (courtney Family Adventures Book 11):
Most helpful customer reviews 27 of 28 people found the following review helpful. Wilbur Smith continues his amazing writing! By Billy J. Hobbs Wilbur Smith never seems to run out of ideas. In "Blue Horizon" he takes us to South Africa(a favorite stomping veldt!). It's the early 18th century and we find the Courtney family (the next generation following "Monsoon") set for further adventures. Complex as "Dynasty" and any daytime soap opera when it comes to a myriad of characters and all the given possibilities of what their actions and reactions might incur.Jim Courtney is set to make further success in the Cape of Good Hope colony, but, like Odysseus, a sea storm occurs blowing a ship full of Dutch female convicts into port, and from there Jim certainly rides the waves, saving the life of the most seductive prisoner (of course) just in the nick of time. Thus begins a few navel maneuvers of their own.That facetiously said, of course, "Blue Horizon" is vintage Wilbur Smith. His legions of fans expect nothing else and they get it, in full gale force, in this long (and perhaps drawn out) story. Expect to lots of elephants, nefarious Dutchmen, treacherous Bushmen, lusty women, virtuous women (well, at least one!), conniving Englishmen---the whole littany of "baddies." But what Wilbur Smith adventure would not have these characteristics? Wilbur Smith is Wilbur Smith, for better or for better, and graphic descriptions and local color abound. Smith does get a bit verbose and that can be tiring, but in general his yarns are worth the effort. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net) 19 of 20 people found the following review helpful. A truly magnificent novel By Robert A. Woodley Note: This is an edited review. The first review I submitted had a spoiler in it, which I shouldn't have put in there.For anyone who enjoyed Monsoon, this is a perfect sequel and a magnificent novel. It doesn't start out quite as a "sequel", focusing on Jim Courtney; though his father Tom, Dorian, Sarah and Jasmina are in the book, as well as Dorian' son, Mansur. Jim instantly falls in love, as Smith's characters so often do, and risks life and fortune to rescue a pretty girl from a convict ship. Forced to flee north with her into the African wilderness, his saga is fascinating, though it does plod at times.Smith really brings Africa to life in his novels. He's featured the tiny bushmen in previous books, and in this one we meet Bakkat, an incredibly appealing character. The almost superhuman bushcraft and joyous existence of these diminutive people really add to the appeal of this book, and give us more of the kind of insights into African history and tribal variations which Wilbur Smith always delivers.His family help Jim "escape" justice, however, and when this is discovered they are themselves forced to flee north up the East Coast of Africa, where they hope to establish a fort and new life at Nativity Bay, a desolate place fans of Smith will remember. They also hope to meet Jim there eventually.The Dutch have meanwhile sent a small party of vicious soldiers to chase Jim, and they have their own bushman, who is a mortal enemy of Bakkat.The Courtneys flee north and eventually meet some Arabs who claim that the Caliph of Oman has been temporarily overthrown, and that the desert tribes are searching for al-Salil (Dorian) to lead them in their fight against the brutal tyrant who killed Dorian's adoptive father.At this point the story simply explodes with adventure, multiple plots, tragedy, vengeance, violence, passion, and unstoppable excitement, involving all of the Courtneys. Monsoon gave us the unforgettable reunion of love between Tom and Dorian. This one gives us some reunions of hatred and revenge. I read this 620 page novel in two days. I couldn't put it down.As fond as I was of Taita and River God; I was a bit disappointed back in 2001 to see Warlock on the shelves (though it was a tremendous novel). Ever since the end of Monsoon I've been lusting to read more about that saga. This book delivers everything I could have asked for in a novel and in a sequel. I can't recommend it highly enough. Monsoon is one of my five favorite novels of my life. This one is just as good. 24 of 28 people found the following review helpful. More Fun from Wilbur Smith By mrliteral In a certain sense, historical fiction is like science fiction, except one looks forward while the other looks back. Certainly both genres are wide-ranging in what they cover, not only in terms of topics, but in terms of style. Look at some of the big names in historical fiction: James Michener writes epics focusing on the evolution of a place rather than characters; James Clavell writes sagas of intrigue in eastern Asia; John Jakes focuses on U.S. history and writes what may be considered soap operas. Then there is Wilbur Smith, who uses history as a backdrop to adventure stories.The somewhat outdated and politically incorrect term for Africa is the Dark Continent, a reference to the fact that it was largely unexplored and mysterious. To a large extent, this remains true for popular fiction: Outside of some North African WWII tales, few novels take place on this continent. Wilbur Smith is the exceptional writer in this regard.Blue Horizon is a sequel to Smith's previous novels of Birds of Prey and Monsoon, focusing on several generations of the Courtney family, English expatriates who are trying to eke out a living around the South African Cape. Birds of Prey follows Hal Courtney; Monsoon follows Hal's sons, Tom, Guy and Dorian; Blue Horizon deals with the same characters plus Tom's son Jim and Dorian's son Mansur. Jim rescues a woman from a convict ship and they both wind up fugitives pursued by bounty hunters. Meanwhile, Dorian, adopted son of the Omani caliph, must contend with his vicious step-brother who has ascended to the throne.The focus in this story is on adventure as the heroes move from one perilous situation to another. "Heroes" is definitely the right word, as these are definitely good guys; similarly, their foes are unquestionably evil. It is obvious that Smith, despite his historical context, is not all that interested in realism, but that's okay; that's not what you look for in such a book. Similarly, the extremely progressive attitude of the protagonists - anti-slavery and completely tolerant of other races and religions - may be a little optimistic from a historical standpoint, but Smith makes it work.Actually, if there is a lesson to come out of this book, it is that these attitudes actually do pay off, as the heroes are able to achieve success as a result of their positive qualities; the villains, on the other hand, can only achieve victory through force, resulting in a less lasting success. But such lessons are secondary to what this book is all about: fun and adventure, and in this area, Smith is successful enough to rate five stars. See all 182 customer reviews...
From Publishers Weekly Smith's latest Courtney family adventure (after Monsoon), set in colonial South Africa in the early 18th century, follows Jim Courtney, scion of the English shipping and adventuring family seeking their fortune in the Cape of Good Hope colony, administered by the Dutch. A storm at sea blows a ship full of female Dutch convicts into port, and Jim saves the life of the comeliest prisoner, Louisa, before the vessel sinks. Louisa was unjustly imprisoned when she went to the authorities about her lascivious and violent employer. Jim's rescue infuriates the greedy Dutch overlords, and the Courtneys, with Louisa in tow, head north in search of more hospitable territory. The balance of the long tale is elephant hunts, exploration of Indian sea islands, battles among native tribes and conflicts between principled colonialists-Jim and his father and brother-and their baser counterparts, including Jim's treacherous uncle and most of the Dutch population. The Courtneys are adored by various native peoples, and a Bushman tracker named Bakkat becomes their acolyte and guide, while his enemy, Xhia, takes orders from the Dutch. The eventual confrontation of the two Bushmen is gripping, if readers can get past the generally condescending way in which Smith writes about black Africans. Subtlety takes a back seat in this broad tale, and readers may be exhausted before they get to the end, but the writer's fans will enjoy the ride.Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist The eleventh volume in Smith's saga of the Courtney clan is every bit as riveting as its predecessors. In Monsoon (1999), brothers Tom and Dorian Courtney established themselves as both swashbuckling seamen and master tradesmen on the shores of South Africa. This time around, their sons, Jim and Mansur Courtney, are equally determined to carve out their own triumphs across the African continent. When Jim falls in love unexpectedly with a beautiful prisoner he spies on a convict ship, he vows to free her from her shackles and a life of certain misery. Escaping with the emotionally shattered and physically damaged Louisa, Jim flees cross country with both his beloved and his faithful manservant, Zama, in tow. Worried about their only son, Tom and Sarah Courtney pursue the young couple, eventually bestowing their family blessing upon them. Blazing a trail across Africa, Jim and Louisa traverse thousands of miles of unexplored wilderness, encountering risk, adventure, and passion along every step of their perilous journey into the unknown. Reuniting with Mansur, Jim and the rest of his expedition face mortal danger from an unexpected source. Brimming with bravado, greed, and romance, this rip-roaring historical romp across eighteenth-century Africa will mesmerize faithful fans and win new converts to Smith's trademark brand of lushly exotic fiction. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved “More than 600 pages of pure pleasure...Smith can stretch a yarn and drag every emotion you have along with it...Smith has a way of drawing you into a story, and the time period matters not a whit.” Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX)“Wilbur Smith is one of those benchmarks against whom others are compared” The Times“ Everything Smith's fans have come to expect from his epic adventure novels. His consummate skill at crafting vast battle scenes, passionate and wildly romantic characters, cruel and bloodthirsty villains, and larger-than-life heroes makes Blue Horizon irresistible.” The Flint Journal“The eleventh volume in Smith's saga of the Courtney clan is every bit as riveting as its predecessors. Brimming with bravado, greed, and romance.” Booklist“A swashbuckling, brawling, sprawling historical epic. Rich, exciting, and fascinating.” Library Journal“Really big retro-fun.” Kirkus“Gripping. The writer's fans will enjoy the ride.” Publishers Weekly“Master storyteller Smith takes his story into another generation of adventurers battling on the sea and on land in the settling of South Africa.” Tulsa World“The eleventh volume in Smith's saga of the Courtney clan is every bit as riveting as its predecessors. Brimming with bravado, greed, and romance.” Booklist“Adventure and danger at every turn.” New York Daily News
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