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Birds of Prey (Courtney #9)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  7,995 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
The year is 1667. Sir Francis Courtney and his son Hal are on patrol in their fighting caravel off the Agulhas Cape of South Africa. They are lying in wait for one of the treasure-laden galleons of the Dutch East India Company returning from the Orient. so begins a quest for adventure and the spoils of war that sweeps them from the settlement of Good Hope at the southern t ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published May 16th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1997)
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Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Alas, I did not learn something essential or scholarly in any way by reading Birds of Prey. I might not have helped me understand history or comprehend anything fundamental to my life, but I would say that reading Birds of Prey was fun and allowed me hours of enjoyable and dashing adventure within Wilbur Smith’s well written story.

All in all, it is a great pirate story set on east coast of Africa in the 1600's. The author appears to know his sailing (of which I am totally ignorant, but there is
Richard Derus
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Rating: 3* of five

Wilbur, Wilbur...yours isn't the stuff of literary legend, but usually you buckle a *mean* swash and cause images of Erroll Flynn to dash around your reader's head (thanks for that, BTW).

In this book, Wilbur, you lost your way. I don't expect autheticity of language, and don't even WANT it, in books set in the 17th century. But sometimes I felt I was watching a mini-series dumbed down for a TV audience as I read this installment of the generational saga of the Courteneys. Plent
Jim A
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The true beginning of the Courtney saga, even though it was written well after the other Courtney books.

Swashbuckling adventure on the highs seas, moving to the African continent and escape from Dutch prison. A chase across South Africa and retribution against those who betrayed the family.

I thought this was an excellent story.
Mark Hennion
Please don't let the 3 stars fool you: I enjoyed this book. More specifically, I enjoyed the story. Wilbur Smith excels in performing perhaps the two most important elements of fiction─ creating likable characters and detestable villains. The trouble I had was with execution.

Birds of Prey has an uneven feel; the first third of the novel unfolds at breakneck pace with great care given to explaining to the reader elements of nautical life and ship terminology. All of this is done quite necessarily
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great pirate story set on east coast of Africa in the 16oo's. WS knows his sailing, his history, and as always is a world-class storyteller. What a crazy time that must have been, the age of colonial conquest. I may go back and re-read some of the others I have sitting around the house.
Thom Swennes
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the small country of The Netherlands spread its sails, to become a major world trade player. With the establishment of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, Holland was soon equal with England as king of the seas. This and other internal, external, and political differences lead to a total of six Anglo-Dutch Wars, spanning intermittently between 1652 and 1810. The Second Anglo-Dutch War, from 1665 to 1667 saw an expansion of hostilities far from Eur ...more
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I never was big on pirate sagas. Until I read this book. None of that phony 'Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of Rum' Errol Flynn nonsense here! Smith is no genteel Victorian novel writer, although he's close enough to that genre to not forget to entertain his readers. Smith's feel for Africa and solid knowledge of the time this book is set in arent from research but from love of his subject. You can feel it all through the book. With Evil Characters like Katinka, the kinky Dutch wife of the Governor of Ca ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 600, favorites
Quite possibly the best novel I've ever read. Full of adventure and extremely well written. Birds of Prey contains some of the best writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Sophisticated and smooth at the same time. The pages just flowed by and I felt almost as if I was watching an Indiana Jones movie. Honest and educational at times, Wilbur Smith pulls no punches here. Some will surely consider it too graphic, but I personally enjoy the honest realism. This book has everything. It had me ...more
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, by far one the best reads I've had in awhile.

Its amazing how this novel can cover so many genre's and still be cohesive.

There is Piracy, War battles, Swordsmanship, A Historical aspect, Adventure on the seas and the continent, Romance, and even an Arthurian legend thrown in. Even a Happy ending.

It was Good from the first word to the last word.

They say don't judge a book by its cover or its title, and maybe that is why i have overlooked it for this long.

So check this one out, you won
Mar 24, 2011 marked it as to-read
Stephen King says: "BEST HISTORICAL NOVELIST. I say Wilbur Smith, with his swashbuckling novels of Africa. The bodices rip and the blood flows. You can get lost in Wilbur Smith and misplace all of August."
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Smith begins the final collection of Courtney novels with an interesting historical journey. Transporting readers back to 1667, the Anglo-Dutch naval war is at its zenith as Sir Francis Courtney and his son, Henry (Hal), sail off the coast of southern Africa. They await the Dutch ships, full of riches, headed back from faraway lands. As they hold letters of permission from Charles II, both Courtney men seek to act as privateers at a time when playing pirates on the high seas was completely permi ...more
Lizzy B
Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A gripping read of the high calibre i have come to expect from Smith. He effectively manages to create a plot out of his regular themes (such as romance, tragedy, family ties, war & battles, good vs. evil and adventure), using a touch of history while keeping a level of freshness, unexpected plot twists.

(Quite how unexpected they are i will leave you to decide for yourself, since i am not blessed with the same ability to pre-empt plot lines as a few individuals i know - possibly because i g
Mina Villalobos
Err, I don't even know what to say about this book. For starters, I didn't know this wasn't the first book of the saga, so clearly I kind of just jumped in the Courtney's party and was a bit confused. Second, I did not foresee the amount of smut this book runs with. Not bad smut, really, just, woah, caught me by surprise the first few super raunchy scenes. There was one swash buckling battle followed by some raunch for the first hundred pages or so.

The characters were pretty shallow as far as c
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Very good for the genre, exciting and absorbing. The characters are thin and stereotyped.

The main character starts out as a young teenager, horny and eager for adventure. He see horrible events and grows up to be a leader among men, etc. but the more he matures the less likeable he is. Some questions for the author: Hal has no problem marrying a Muslim Balinese woman--indeed, he doesn't even seem to realize that she is not Christian. But later in the book he seems motivated by pure Christian ze
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
A swashbuckling adventure tale. An exotic setting--the east coast of 17th century Africa, a young, handsome, brave, bright hero under the tutelage of his strict but loving father with a loyal, strong, brave, wise indigenous side-kick, naval battles, sword fights, lions, crocodiles, hidden treasure, a secret society, an evil, implacable but honorable foe, a couple of slimy bad guys, a beautiful, high-born nymphomaniac to relieve our hero of his virginity—what could go wrong? All of the characters ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primo libro che ho letto di W.S. Subito dopo essere tornata dal Sudafrica ho sentito la nostalgia di questo stupendo paese e quale modo migliore per rivedere quei posti con altri occhi, in altre epoche, se non quello di immergermi nella lettura di questi fantastici romanzi? In questo si parte dal principio, siamo nel XVII secolo quando gli inglesi sono approdati sulle coste del Sudafrica come tappa verso le Indie Orientali e Hal Courtney è diventato il capostipite di una dinastia che non mi ha p ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a bit … curious. Very much a slightly grown-up “Boys own adventure” book, it certainly wasn’t as good as some of the later books in the Courtney series. It does suffer a bit from falling into cliché, especially when it comes to the bad guys.

Towards the end there was a very left-of-field twist that appeared, which I don’t feel worked very well (But I shan’t go into details in case of spoilering.)

Overall I probably wouldn’t bother unless you really like this type of swashbuckling.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Yet another great Wilbur Smith book that kept me turning pages. Smith's books generally follow the same formula, but his mixture of history, setting, and action really works. This entry is set during the 17th century and does a great job of using English, Dutch, and Islamic history to move the story. As always, the reader gets the tough as nails heroes, the lusty and attractive women, the bad guys who are always bad, and the all knowing African mentor. But like I said earlier, this really works ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Took me back to amy teenage years of reading when characters did not need to be fleshed out and adventures just keep happening on the seas. All I wanted was excitement then and apparently needed a dose of now. Back and forth across the seas around Africa, fighting both those on the Queen's side and those that are Dutch, loving and marrying twice, hiding booty and grabbing it up again, repairing ships, sailing them... It's all there. I didn't ask for more, not consistency, not plausibility, just ...more
Mitch C.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My first Wilbur Smith book,

Absolutely loved it, the adventure the epic scope as well as the sincere emotion in which the reader is dragged through from overwhelming and desolate sadness to gloriously profound victory which is beset upon a wicked and harsh set of odds. I love the sea and anything involving pirates however this is the first book that's really captivated me as a reader into fully believing this story from back to front, I cannot wait until I get into the next one.
Brian Durfee
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
#37 BIRDS OF PREY by Wilbur Smith. Durfee's top 50 novels countdown. I've read all 40 of Wilbur Smith's African Adventure novels. *Warning* If you like animals DO NOT read a Wilbur Smith novel. Much bloody slaughter of African beasts in a Wilbur Smith. I also highly recommend RIVERGOD, MONSOON, and A FALCON FLIES.
Natasa Tovornik
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wilbur Smith is a great novel writter, does great reasearch and you cannot let go of the book once started to read. Birds of Prey is one ov the Courtney saga, but can be read as a stand-a-lone. One of my favourites.
Spencer Hawke
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelee Bush
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
ahhhh, Wilbur Smith...high seas junk food for the senses...loved it, page turner, awesome
Dave Schulte
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A smokin' good tale of swashbuckling!
Vitani Days
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: storico
Questo libro temo sarà il mio primo e ultimo tentativo con Wilbur Smith.Partivo con le migliori speranze, perché la trama mi attirava e l'ambientazione pure. E non è che queste speranze siano state disattese: lo stile è di base ottimo e la ttimo e la narrazione scorre fluida e avventurosa. Capisco le persone a cui il romanzo è piaciuto, gli ingredienti ce li ha tutti e li vedo tranquillamente.
Il che non mi ha impedito, però, di trovare il libro noiosissimo, tant'è che l'ho letto a fatica e salta
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not my type of book even though I've seen all instalments of the Pirates of the Caribbean... Pirates, ahoy, arrrrhhhh. Or rather British and Dutch noblesse fighting beyond (across/below?) the Line. Loads of things happen in these 700 pages, so if you're into it, please be ready for the hell of a ride. We have here a bit of cliché characters: a wise father and a wise exotic (meaning, ex-slave) mentor, a young pup who learns everything the hard way but is of an angelic beauty, a worthy ene ...more
Rich Boyett
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Reads like Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark. Fun.
Alan Whitfield
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favourite series from Wilbur Smith
David McGrogan
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entirely enjoyable and wonderfully written schlock - like tucking into a massive slice of black forest gateau. It may not be good for you but Christ it's delicious.
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please add the book cover from amazon 1 2 May 24, 2015 09:25AM  
In What order to read the Books? 5 36 Jun 25, 2014 04:21PM  
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Wilbur Smith is the bestselling author of many novels, each meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His bestselling Courtney series includes Assegai, The Sound of Thunder, Birds of Prey, Monsoon, and Blue Horizon. His other books include Those in Peril, River God, Warlock, The Seventh Scroll, and The Sunbird. His books are now translated into twenty-six languages and have so ...more
More about Wilbur Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Courtney (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • When the Lion Feeds (Courtney, #1)
  • Sound of Thunder (Courtney #2)
  • A Sparrow Falls (Courtney #3)
  • The Burning Shore (Courtney #4)
  • Power of the Sword (Courtney #5)
  • Rage (Courtney #6)
  • A Time to Die (Courtney #7)
  • Golden Fox (Courtney #8)
  • Monsoon (Courtney #10)
  • Blue Horizon  (Courtney, #11)