-----June 1st, 1999 - I have just finished reading ‘Monsoon’ for the first time and I am unsure which emotion is strongest. Is it the joy of receiving another wondrous adventure filled with vivid characters or the longing for more of the Wilbur Smith emotional roller-coaster ride?
-----Every couple of years Wilbur Smith sweeps me to land I have never seen and makes me feel like a native with the release of a new novel. ‘Monsoon’ is no exception. The story begins about 25 years after ‘Birds of Prey’ leaves off. An older, more civilized Hal Courtney introduces us to his four sons. William, Black Billy to the other siblings, is the bully of the brood. Guy and Tom are twins a few years younger and Dorrie is the youngest in the family at ten years of age.
-----Those of you familiar with Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series will immediately notice many of his classic themes. William torments the boys just as Dirk bullied Storm in ‘The Roar of Thunder’. Twins who tend to be as different as night and day battle for supremacy. Foolish bravado and sexual desire accompany the adolescents through puberty as they have many times before. Wilbur takes the children and once again turns boys to men with hardship and a father’s love.
-----Now that I have just made those statements, I have to admit that ‘Monsoon’ is one of the most unique stories I have ever read by Wilbur Smith or any other author. Every novel ever to fill my hands has had some “downtime” where people, emotions, ideologies, etc. are explained in length or the next situation is set up. Every novel except this one that is. Smith uses his 25+ years of experience to create a story where the excitement is never-ending. Information crucial to the story or situation is explained as it happens and very effectively. Long onerous circumstances are either filled with mini-sagas or skipped entirely (for example… the many months required to sail from England to the tip of Africa). There simply is no time for you to get bored.
-----One of the greatest thrills I get when reading a Wilbur Smith novel is in trying to guess what is going to happen next. Of course, I am always wrong. Wilbur has a way of letting your favorite character perish just when you think gold and glory are surely within their grasp. At the same time he is apt to let the most despicable man in the entire world get away with the impossible. ‘Monsoon’ keeps you amazed at every turn. There are times when I just had to put the book down for a minute and ask myself, ”Did that really happen?”
-----Wilbur Smith has become more brazen with each novel. The unexpected twists and flowing style show what a truly experienced and talented writer can deliver to his fans. It is my deepest desire to see the Courtney series flow on from ‘Monsoon’ right into ‘When the Lion Feeds.’ Imagine being able to watch Waite Courtney grow up to bridge the gap on a story that will then cover over 350 years for fans and over 40 years for Wilbur himself. What an incredible story that would be to read from start to finish.
-----It’s back to waiting again for me. Next stop? Potentially a new novel is due out in the Spring of 2001. Let’s hope time truly does fly.
Monsoon, Wilbur Smith. Published by St. Martin's Press, First U.S. Edition June 1999.
Copyright - Gary Steele, 1999