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What was your first Wilbur Smith experience?

....There are quite a few stories for you to read on this page, but I am always interested in more. I have been adding new contributions here for two years now, the latest on 1/05/1999. I enjoy hearing how others started reading Wilbur Smith's books, and now here is your chance to enjoy some of these stories for yourself, and even submit your own to be entered on this page. I guess since it is my Webpage, I will go first :)

....Remembering my first Wilbur Smith book is almost like remembering my first High School crush. It is always amazing to me how clearly that first novel sticks out in my mind. For those of you who have read it, I am sure you remember the section in 'A Time to Die' where Sean Courtney and his two clients, Riccardo and his beautiful, but stubborn, daughter Claudia, are hunting for lion. Claudia tries everything in her power to stay completely still as they wait for the beasts to come and take their bait, yet at the same time tries to confound the hunt. I couldn't believe so much energy could be packed into a story where nothing was happening. I was so enchanted that I physically twitched as the bullet explode and leapt towards the big cat. This struggle is the one part in all of Wilbur Smith's twenty six novels that sticks out most clearly for me.

....I was about 17, working in a B.Dalton book store. The books that don't sell (and Wilbur's don't here in the U.S. for some reason) are stripped or their covers and the covers are sent back to the publisher for a refund. The rest of the book gets thrown away, well, the ones that I didn't take, that is. I had hundreds and hundreds of these 'striped books' in large Christmas shopping bags, put away so that I could read them after I left the book store. It was three years before I reached bottom of those books and picked up 'A Time to Die', yellow with age and stripped bare. Today my first edition hardcover copy of 'A Time to Die' is one of my most cherished possessions. I can honestly say that was the biggest day of my reading life, because I have never been the same since. My dreams have become dreams of seeing Africa, and making sure that my 25 month old son gets to see it as well, before the wild continent is devastated forever.


Phillip Bell

....It was Christmas of 1975 when my grandmother gave me a paperback cover of 'When the Lion Feeds'. At the time, being summer in Australia, the beach and other sporting activities beckoned, but as I and my family holidayed in a coastal town near Perth during January I decided to put the book away and read it them.

....I must admit that at that stage reading books did not interest me, andtruth be known, I was probably a little disappointed that my grandmother could not have found something better to buy for a 15 year old for Christmas.

....I am not sure what prompted it, but a few days before we were due to leave on holidays I picked up the book and started to read. I was immediately immersed in the adventures that I was reading and if I closed my eyes, I am sure I could visualise every scene, so descriptive is Wilbur Smith's writings.

....I finished that book overnight and dragged my mother into the city the following day to buy every Wilbur Smith book I could lay my hands on.

....Since then I have purchased all Wilbur Smith's books and from A Falcon Flies have them in hard cover. I have re-read these books many times over and I am presently reading Monsoon, his latest, still marvelling at his story writing techniques.

....I still have the first book my grandmother gave me and am grateful that she took the time to sign and date the inside cover for me. A couple of years ago, Wilbur Smith and his wife were in Perth on a book signing tour for 'Birds of Prey' and travelled in a Limousine supplied by a company that I was employed by. I would have liked to have asked the driver to see if Wilbur Smith could sign my copy of Birds of Prey but thought that would be improper of me. In hindsight I now wish I had, as my grandmother passed away only a day before the tour arrived in Perth.

....I am forever grateful to my grandmother, not only for introducing me to a writer of Wilbur Smith's calibre, but to introducing me to the joys of reading. I now read and discard many books, but those of Wilbur Smith are displayed with pride alongside those of my family.


Greg Brammah - Bingley, England

....As a teenager I would only entertain Horror, Gothic and Science Fiction literature from the likes of Asimov, James Herbert and Julian May. I am now in my late thirties and about 5 years ago I was given "Eye Of The Tiger" by my father, an avid Wilbur Smith fan. I put it to one side as with all books received in over a decade, promising to read it at some time in the future.

....Later that year I went to Corfu for my first proper holiday in many years and for some reason took the book my father had given me. I guess that I thought that if I didn't like it then no matter, as I wasn't going away with the intention of reading a great deal anyway.

....Thank you Wilbur Smith I couldn't put the book down and for the last three days of my break, I found myself reading constantly, much to the consternation of my wife and children. Since then I go away once a year and take one of his novels with me. My wife has started reading River God and I'm currently on Seventh Scroll.

....This author has a nack of gripping the reader by the throat and dragging "him" into the pages of his novels in such a way that you only come up for air at the last moment. There is always some regret that the precious moments you have just enjoyed are now over, but excitement about the wonders you are going to experience next time.


Stephanie Bueltel

....It was probably about August 1998 when I first set my eyes on a Wilbur Smith novel. Since then all I read were science-fiction because I didn't think anything else had enough fun or action in it. I read extensivly. I spend all my free time with a book in my hand, Well, I'm sure everyone has heard, 'Never judge a book by it's cover', and I am just the type of person to break that rule.

....On one of my regular trips to Barnes and Nobles, I was buying a book by Mercedes Lackey, and I was stading in line. While I stood there idly, I looked over to see the row of displays they always put at the cash registers. My first attention was drawn to the cover of 'Birds of Prey', because of the dagger. I loved to read about the Dark Ages, and for some reason I assumed this book was about thus. So, without a second thought, I grabbed it from it's place to add to my collection.

....Once home, I picked the book out of the bag and read the back. To my surprise, the book was about a sea-faring quest! "Ya...Right," I said, and tossed it aside. The next day, I picked it up again and out of nowhere, started to read it.......I was entranced. I finished it in three days flat. Since then I have read 4 of his novels and am on my fifth one. I now am trying to get my hands on all of Wilbur Smith's novels, and any other novel that catches my eye.


Fernando Arauco Vincik

....The first novel I ever read was 'When the Lion Feeds'. I am from Bolivia but I was in Argentina at the time. I remember a friend told me about this book, but I wasnīt what you would call a reader. I was 17 years old so I was looking for other things to do other than reading, but when I started that book, I wasnīt able to sleep for two days and nights. I was amazed with what I was experiencing. It was amazingly powerful and vivid and from that moment on, one of my favorite hobbies became reading. I`ve struggle to find every Wilbur Smith book I can, and that is a difficult task for two reasons. First, in my homeland it is not easy to find Wilbur`s books, and second, when his books arrive they are sold so quickly that I cannot get my hands on one.

....The part that I remember the best is from "Retumba el Trueno", which might be 'The Sound of Thunder' in English, but I`m not sure about that. When Dirk set fire to Seanīs plantation, I remember as if I was there hearing the screams and the roaring of the fire. I even could smell the smoke. I actually WAS there. It was incredible and one of the best moments of my whole life. I am really grateful to Wilbur because he taught me to love reading. Since then, I have read every kind of book I can find including classics, science, technology etc. I believe it was my aquired love of reading which made me decide to go to College and get a degree.

....I now have over 1500 books at home and of those, 200-300 novels. The rest are about all sorts of topics. I love to read, it is one of the most important things in my life and I am sure that is Wilbur`s gift to me. I am 33 years old now, and I know I will keep on reading many years to come.

Great Story, Thanks. Does his story strike a cord? E-Mail Fernando.


Jim Irving

....For 53 years I have only wanted to play and watch sports. This is all I loved and lived for.

....Then when I turned about 30 years, I received a very bad injury playing Rugby which in later years (4 years ago) saw me not only taking prescription drugs, but I now have to use a wheelchair permanently. At this stage I was an NZ police officer, and of course, I had to retire.

....Never was I a book reader. I used to watch people sitting in a railway carriage, or other place where reading filled in the time and think to myself, "How can they read that book, it must be 600-700 pages?"

....Then recently my wife purchased a book shop. I can well remember customers coming in and wanting to order 'Elephant Song' and talking about this bloke named Wilbur Smith.

....Then very recently, while on holiday further down the Island, there was this beautiful book display on 'Birds of Prey'.

...."Right," I decided, "This is it. I'm going to buy the book and see what this guy called Wilbur Smith is all about, and at the same time, see why these people come in hordes to order one of his books."

....This was only 2 months ago. Since reading 'Birds Of Prey' I have read four other novels by him!! It is now my intention to purchase all of the novels that he has written.

....I am now a converted reader of all Wilbur Smiths books.

Jim Irving


Dick Kantenberger

.... I worked all over Africa off and on from 1974 through 1983, and developed a great love for the continent, but especially southern Africa. I even took my wife there three times trying to get her to move from Houston to Cape Town, but without success - too far from the kids.

....In 1986 I ran across a Books on Tape catalog and rented "When the Lion Feeds". I was immediately hooked, and have since read every book he has written. I usually get the latest Wilbur Smith book each summer when I visit Victoria, British Columbia, because as you know, they are not readily available here in the US.

....Last summer, when no new book appeared, 'panic' set in. I wrote him a letter to find out if I had missed something (from my years in Cape Town, I knew where he lived). When he wrote back and told me that "Birds of Prey" was due out this Spring, the winter became bearable. To my great surprise, as I walked through our local Barnes & Noble bookstore yesterday, there was "Birds of Prey". Maybe things are changing in the States, finally.

....Through the years, every single person who I have either recommended or given a Wilbur Smith book to, and there have been many, have become Wilbur Smith fans.

Dick Kantenberger

....I hoped you liked reading everyone's first Wilbur Smith experience, and feel free to send your own to me at GarySteele@Hotmail.com. I may even put your letter on this page for everyone to read.