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Assegai
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Product Description

Wilbur Smith has won acclaim worldwide as the master of the historical novel. Now, in Assegai he takes readers on an unforgettable African adventure set against the gathering clouds of war.

It is 1913 and Leon Courtney, an ex-soldier turned professional hunter in British East Africa, guides the rich and powerful from America and Europe on big-game safaris. Leon had never sought fame, but an expedition alongside U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt has made him one of the most sought-after hunters on the continent. Soon, he finds that with celebrity comes not just wealth—but also danger.

Leon is recruited by his uncle Penrod Ballantyne, commander of the British forces in East Africa, to gather information on one of his clients: Count Otto von Meerbach, a German industrialist whose company builds aircraft and vehicles for the Kaiser’s burgeoning army. While spying, Leon falls desperately in love with von Meerbach’s beautiful and enigmatic mistress, Eva von Wellberg.

On the eve of the World War, Leon stumbles on a plot by Count von Meerbach that could wipe out the British forces in Africa. He finds himself left alone to frustrate von Meerbach’s plan, and in grave peril as he learns more about the enigmatic Eva.

Set amidst the tensions that will spark a war across continents, Assegai delivers the fast-paced action and vivid history that has made Wilbur Smith an internationally bestselling author.

(20090315)

Customer Reviews:

  • Different Branch of Courtney Family
    While Wilbur Smith writes engrossing novels, his real talent is in the description of his native Africa. One only has to read a few chapters of any of his novels to understand his love for his native land. Assegai does not fail in this regard. The descriptions of the hunts for African game are enough to make the reader feel he/she is on safari with Leon Courtney.

    The time line of this novel falls just before the beginning of World War I. Readers who have followed the Courtney saga will recognize this to be about the same time frame as The Burning Shore. As there is no mention of Sean Courtney or Michael Courtney in this novel, one has to assume it is the family name, but the English Courtneys, not the South African Courtneys. Penrod Ballantyne, Leon Courtney's uncle, was featured in The Triumph of the Sun.

    For those who are new to Wilbur Smith's work, and from reading some of the other reviews there are people who have not discovered Smith, I would suggest that you start the Courtney series with Birds of Prey, not necessarily When the Lion Feeds (the first Courtney book Smith penned). Then move to Monsoon, Blue Horizon and then pick up the beginning, When the Lion Feeds, The Sound of Thunder and A Sparrow Falls. Then the reader can move to The Courtneys of Africa series. ...more info
  • Glimmerings of vintage Smith
    I think Smith's best books were written in the 60s and 70s. Shout at the Devil, Cry Wolf, Diamond Hunters and Eye of the Tiger were Smith at his best. Starting in the 80s however, Mr. Smith's writing took on a political bent, his view of the ideal world, and his obvious nostalgia for the long dead British Empire and its past glory.

    Assegai starts off in a fairly promising manner, but soon lapses into cliched circumstances. There are glimmerings of vintage Smith, the Elephant and Lion hunts, the poetic description of his much beloved Africa et al, but somehow it seems forced. The pace seems to pick up somewhat in the latter half, but then again, the characters seem paper thin and don't hold your interest for long.

    I do miss the dry humor from his earlier books. Who can forget the lovable rascals Flynn O' Flynn and Sebastian Oldsmith from 'Shout at the Devil'? In my opinion, that was Smith at his very best. Sadly, I suspect he's now past his prime. Like an aging wine left too long in the cellar, his newer books maintain only memories of their former glory....more info
  • Another spell binder from Mr. Smith
    I got so involved with this book as I sat in the Sky Lounge in Atlanta that I lost all track of time and missed my plane! It seems to me that Wilbur Smith gets better with each book he writes. I heartily recomend Assegai to all Wilbur Smith fans as well as to readers new to the author....more info
  • Good, but not vintage Smith
    This novel was certainly better than his last, but did not meet my expectations for this author. I have read all of Smith's work. Some fell short, others were quite good. This one falls in the middle. Development of most characters was thin, and lets face it, no professional hunter worth his salt would allow any client to engage in the antics described in this book. In short, most of this story just was not believeable. For that reason it was hard to stay engaged in this story....more info
  • His worst!
    I've been a fan for years and I believe I've read, and enjoyed, almost every book he's published. Almost! This latest book is simply bad. The story was bad, the plot was bad, the characters were poorly developed, it was simply a poorly writen book. Not what I've come to expect from one of my favorite authors. Don't waste your time. ...more info
  • Sad decline of a great author
    For a while now I've watched and read in dismay as Wilbur Smith's books have essentially gone from bad to worse. His latest book 'Assegai' is asinine. It's like he has run out of fresh ideas now and goes back to his own books, picks a little bit here, picks a little bit there, and cobbles a new book together. Assegai is essentially a 2 parter - a glorified safari forms the first part, and an extremely childish spy story forms the second part. The first sequence where Leon fights off the Nandi warriors got my hopes up, but alas this was apparently the highlight of the book. It was all downhill from there.
    The characters are weak, the usual African vs the white man friendship/antagonism that make a reader alternatively love and hate both sides is missing.
    I now read his books out of loyalty and hope more than any expectation that they will be any good....more info
  • downward slide
    This book was thouroughly enjoyable the first 100 pages. I loved reading about Africa. It was obvious that the author had done extensive research. I got lost in the adventure. Then it was off to the main plot and it became horrendous. The dialog was stilted and the characters actions made no sense. Also, some authors should not right love scenes. One of my favorites, James Lee Burke fall into this catagory. Smith writes a sentence descibing female genetalia that is worse then any [...]. On a persoanal note the killing of animals got to be a bit much for me too. I know the main character is a hunter and I know the book is historically acurate but...jeez, enough....more info