Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sunbird” as Want to Read:
The Sunbird
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sunbird

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  4,351 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
In Wilbur Smith's The Sunbird, Dr. Ben Kazin is a brilliant archeologist. Louren Sturvesant is rich, impulsive, and physically imposing, everything Ben is not. Now, the two men--friends, competitors and partners--are searching for the legendary lost city of Opet, built by who escaped the fall of Carthage two thousand years ago.

For Ben, the expedition is a chance to prove a
Mass Market Paperback, 615 pages
Published December 15th 2002 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1972)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sunbird, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sunbird

River God by Wilbur SmithBirds of Prey by Wilbur SmithWhen the Lion Feeds by Wilbur SmithThe Burning Shore by Wilbur SmithMonsoon by Wilbur Smith
Best of Wilbur A. Smith
35 books — 64 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieChasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
1,303 books — 1,350 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Carl Timms
The first half is an interesting archeological boy's own romp and on its own would have been a 3/5. However it's the second half that raises this book to greatness. Ben Huy-Amon is a fantastic creation and the secret history of an empire that unfolds is do vivid detailed and ultimately heart-breaking that it made this book a classic in my eyes. It's themes mirror real life: the invasion of the White man and enslavement of the African indigenous tribes, but the twist in the tail and revenge that ...more
Mark Steven Thompson
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Easily one of the best books I have ever read. Smith weaves a masterful tale of love, betrayal and adventure in this stand alone novel. This was the second of his books I tried after River God. I admit I was apprehensive, believing that nothing could surpass that amazing book but, while I wouldn't say this is better, I would say its on par.

Oh, I'll also add that I have read this book three times. I don't normally go back and re-read so let that tell you something if nothing else does.

One of the
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, kindle, book-club
Had I stopped at Part 1 I probably would have rated this one star. The story in Part 2 was much more compelling to me, and the characters and their motivations were much more interesting...I enjoyed understanding how what was found by the archaeologists in Part 1 came to be. I did not enjoy the prolonged hunting scenes and love scenes. Just a lot of overwrought bad writing there (and I don't enjoy hunting...:) ). Everything in Part 1 made sense in light of Part 2 except the actions of the Sally ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A hazy aerial photograph and a sinister curse – known only to the Africans – and Dr Benjamin Kazin stumbles on the archaeological discovery of a lifetime...

For nearly two thousand years, a brilliant and unknown ancient civilisation has remained buried in southern Africa. Now at last the red cliffs of
Botswana seem about to yield their secret.

Under the lavish patronage of his old friend and mentor Lauren Sturvesant, head of one of the richest companies in the world, Ben and his green-eyed assistan
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Not my favorite Wilbur (Monsoon) but still plenty of action, adventure, and faraway places.
I'd very likely have given it a full five if Wretched Sally had died some sort of spectacular African death.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading Wilbur Smith's novels in chronological order, and I've now reached the mid 1970s. THE SUNBIRD marks the author's first attempt to do something different: this is actually two novels in one, linked via parallel themes and characters.

The first part of the book sees the author in familiar territory: his hero is a hunchbacked archaeologist and the story is his search for a lost Phoenician kingdom in the deserts of southern Africa. This part of the book is superb: it makes archaeolo
Antonio Rosato
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eccezion fatta per la saga egiziana di Taita, è la prima volta che leggo un qualche libro di Wilbur Smith e devo ammettere che questo è davvero fantastico e letteralmente diviso in due parti… e il bello e che ciascuna di esse, pur essendo metà lavoro, è intrecciata con l’altra ma può essere letta indipendentemente. Tanto per farvi capire un po’, nella prima parte (faccio un riepilogo veloce in modo da non rovinarvi la lettura ed il finale) un famoso archeologo nano e storpio parte, nonostante il ...more
Heather T
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
For book number 400 I had to make it a Wilbur. It's told from two different perspectives - from the point of view of those who once lived at the ancient site and those who discovered the site centuries later. I think I was more interested in Part II of the book than in the beginning. Although, there were moments in the beginning I loved. It's a typical Wilbur book, but it's set up more like The Angels Weep with the time difference between the two sections.
BTW...the end and Sally! Grrrr.... That
Clive Ousley
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was the second Wilbur Smith novel I read and still in my view his best. The two parallel stories thousands of year’s apart work perfectly. The characters are so well drawn you live with them well after finishing the novel. Dr. Ben Kazin was for the time this book was written such an unusual and striking character you willed him on for success in love and as an archaeologist, the same goes for his parallel character Huy in the second half of the novel.
With rereading I’ve worn out my hardcopy
Giampaolo Frello
My favorite novel by Wilbur Smith, quite different than the usual ones, maybe that's why.
Adam Mueller
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read almost every Wilbur Smith book and this one is my favorite, after monsoon and birds of prey and the Egypt series and ......
May 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
The first half was 5 stars the second half failed IMHO miserably!! 1 star
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book first of all because it dealt with the idea of reincarnation which is a concept I find very thought provoking and history/archaeology always interesting themes for a story. The novel I think, deviates tremendously in some ways from other themes of this author in his other books, however an engaging writing style that kept me captivated from beginning to end. I think readers familiar with other books by this writer will be pleasantly surprised with this one.
Meredith Morgan
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I have read this book 5 or more times now, and every time I fully enjoy it.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed how this was written, it was really cool! The past/presentness & the curse of repeating history...very interesting.
Rita Backe
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lovsies
A little bit of this and that. Boring to begin with, the whole Benjamin / Sally / Louren / Hillary - tangle gets a bit longwinded. A bit more fun and up-beat when the time changes, and we're introduced to Huy, Tanit and Lannon instead. However, this is not as good as the Taita-books.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wilbur-smith
This is the very first novel i read.It is a classic book which describes about love, friendship and much more.
Rick Brindle
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've read this book many times, and surely will read it again. However, I have had to drop a star. It could be the world that's changed, or me, or both.
So, the story starts in 1970's Southern Africa, present day at the time of writing, and covers the discovery of a lost civilisation of, you've guessed it, white settlers who whopped the natives for hundreds of years before disappearing. The second act takes the reader back in time to that civilisation, where the present day characters are super i
Rav3n Owl
This book took me 5 days to read. It's probably the longest a book has ever taken me and it was only 538 pages long.
Although the book was imaginative, well-written and had me wanting for more, I just couldn't get into it. Around 100 pages in I managed to find things that hooked me, but then the descriptions of others left me wanting.
This book has made me view society with a more cynical eye, however it also has reawakened the passion I have for archeology.
It had a few typos and grammatical mi
by Ax
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diviso in due

Diviso in due parti ben distinte, tra presente e passato, questo romanzo riserva gioie e dolori. Le prime , contrariamente al mio gusto per i romanzi storici, le ho trovate disseminate durante lo svolgimento della prima metà del libro, quella moderna, caratterizzata dalla conoscenza delle personalità dei protagonisti; a tratti toccante, per quanto riguarda le vicende di Ben l'archeologo nella sua ricerca della mitica "Città della Luna", regala punte di azione da destare l'interesse
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let me say I am a Wilbur Smith fan and thought I read them all. Well this older book written in 1972 was one I missed. Terrifically written but different. The Sunbird is a work of fiction, really two complete books within one binding.The first is the tale of two friends who could not be more different in temperament as well as looks: one a hunchback, brilliant and obsessed with the thought of the fame that will come to him if he finds and excavates the long lost Carthaginian city of Opet in Bots ...more
Riki Strydom
Mar 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: african-fiction
Some of Wilbur Smiths older books tend to be hard to wrap your head around, this being one of them. From the start you get a sense that one of the main characters is “bad” in a sense, however the book never gets around to fully exploring that topic. For one this is essentially two stories in one. The first half if the book is set in the present where a search begins for a lost city with vast amounts of history and treasure. This story abruptly finishing with no substantial conclusion. Then direc ...more
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, english, reviewed

I dislike nearly every character in this book, for various reasons. It made it near impossible for me to connect with any of them, which is not that bad when the story is compelling--but that wasn't the case in part 1. The first part was too drawn out a love triangle for my tastes, and as it's set in the seventies there's also a sexism and racism going on that at times I found hard to read through.

It was interesting the way you read in part two what has happened to the city the archaeologis
Javed Hayat
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
The second half of this book is one of the most engaging reading experience I have ever had. I would have awarded it 5 stars without any qualms had it not been for the largely boring, kinda irrelevant first half of the novel.

The first half of the novel is all about a grand archaelogical discovery made in the modern day Egypt, remains of an ancient city destroyed, and the second half of the novel takes us way back to ancient days of Egypt, explaining what really happened and the terror that befel
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very capturing and emotional trip of tragedy (especially part II).
Very grand "visual" scenes of culture (religious ceremonies), hunt and battle.

Part II felt more "complete", a perfect narrative circle. Part I felt a little disappointing - in contrast - as some plot possibilities were only touched upon but never fully developed, e.g. terrorism.

Regarding women and racism:
Yes, it's in there, but the book was written in the 70s. If it's how people thought back then, be tolerant! We don't critic
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wilbur-smith
I have read several of Wilbur Smith's books and have loved them all. This one is no different. It's really a two part tale but they are connected of course. I enjoyed both parts but really liked the second much better than the first. The first part tells the story of two finds making a discovery of a lost city most of their colleagues never believed existed. There is a love triangle here. The second part is the story of three people from that lost city. Love triangle of a sort here also. Smith r ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
The is an entertaining book which deals with the Curse of the White Ghost. Dr. Benjamin Kazan, an archeologist, discovers a lost city that he has been searching for all his professional life. The belief has others in his field ridiculing his efforts but despite this he finds the lost city of Opet. Strangely parallel to his own life, the king of the city and his patron and good friend are remarkably alike in appearance. In addition, the king had a friend like Benjamin himself. That friend loved a ...more
David Campton
This seems like a dry run for what Smith later did with the Egyptian historical novel "River God" and the contemporary African archaeological thriller "The Seventh Scroll", but the unexplored conceit of two stories in the same place (with a similar dramatis personnae) separated by 1800 years is clumsy to say the least. It's not helped by the fact that I found all the key characters to be highly unappealing, casual sexism and racism pervades the book (which may have fitted the historical context ...more
Housewife Bubuchu
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Шикарный образчик жанра современного приключенческого романа.
Как коктейль сделанный гениальным барменом - каждого из ингридиентов ровно столько, сколько нужно, чтобы создать Тот самый вкус, даже зонтик в бокале под строго выверенным углом.
В этой книге есть все что нужно и этого всего очень правильное количество. Тут и драматическая любовь, и настоящая мужская дружба, и захватывающая археологическая история, и кармическая предопределенность, и масштабные исторические события, и настоящая трагедия
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Cafe on the Nile
  • Ramses: The Battle of Kadesh (Ramses, #3)
  • Kringe in 'n Bos
  • Seer of Egypt (The King's Man, #2)
  • Whitethorn
  • Paradox (Rogue Angel #21)
  • Dawn Wind
  • Zero
  • Transformers: Autocracy
  • Uhuru
  • The Spoilers
  • Nor Gold (The Pirate Captain: Chronicles of a Legend, #2)
  • Victory (Kydd Sea Adventures, #11)
  • Queen of the Black Coast
  • Yesterday's Gone: Episode 6 (Yesterday's Gone, #6)
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...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Fly for me, Bird of the Sun.” 4 likes
More quotes…