Ballantyne Books

The Ballantyne family members, their offspring, and suchlike successive generations over the years are the portrayed protagonists and contagonists in the various Ballantyne series of books penned by Zambia-born South African author Wilbur Smith. In some cases, the aforementioned series is simply called The Ballantyne Novels, then the respective numbering inserted. The Ballantyne series, just like the other series written by the same author and symbolizing family sagas, has all the hallmarks of autobiography and biography.

Order of Ballantyne Series

# Read Title Published
1 A Falcon Flies 1980
2 Men of Men 1981
3 The Angels Weep 1982
4 The Leopard Hunts in Darkness 1984
5 The Triumph of the Sun 1992
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The Ballantyne series of books is a fictional series covering the lives of the Ballantyne family in Rhodesia from the mid 19th century through to the 1980s. The Ballantyne series is written by the prolific author Wilbur Smith. Although the books don’t really fit into one specific genre, there is a lot of drama involved, and a lot of the Ballantyne series is set during the colonisation of the country by the British, and how the indigenous population struggled against the white settlers. While the Ballantyne series is a fictional account of the time, and the Ballantyne family itself is a creation of Smith, many of the events chronicled in the series did actually happen in Africa during the time of the series.

There are over forty editions of the first novel in the Ballantyne series. But the first edition of the earliest book featuring the Ballantyne family was initially published in 1980, called A Falcon Flies, and the books contained therein are shelved under the historical fiction and adventure genres.

Generally, in the first, second and third books, the cynosure is the Ballantyne family tree and the exploits that the family members have had in the then Rhodesia, formerly a British protectorate. By and by, the series segues into the rekindling of age-old enmities featuring rivaling African tribes. Closer home, the series traces the roots of the Ballantyne family and depicts the family saga of the first generation all through the ensuing more than nine subsequent generations. The turning point is especially Fuller Morris Ballantyne, a dominant figure in the first book in the serialized Ballantyne. The plot continues in the same vein until the late twentieth century with various characters, most notably Craig Mellow who is featured in the last book in the said series.

The first book in the Ballantyne series which, to labor the point, is called A Falcon Flies, begins with two Ballantyne family members who have landed in an African coastal region; it is in the 1860s. The two travelers are Dr Robyn Ballantyne and Major Morris Zouga Ballantyne. They are on the quest for tracing their father, called Fuller Morris Ballantyne, who is a notable explorer. Fuller Morris has seemingly got lost in the African wild. Morris Zouga and Robyn Ballantyne’s sojourn starts in Cape Town and they travel due north, and fasten on to their father. Slave trade and constant battles, where it is survival of the fittest, are some of the themes addressed there. The series is out-and-out proof of author Wilbur Smith’s masterly grasp of the adventure niche, and he clinched a sport hunting prize.

A Falcon Flies is the first book in the Ballantyne series, which was published in 1980, and the story starts in 1860. In A Falcon Flies, we meet the Ballantyne family, who are headed up by Fuller Ballantyne, a well-known explorer as well as a missionary. However, Fuller has vanished in south of the continent of Africa, so his son Zouga and his daughter lead an expedition to find their father. The siblings go with other motives, too, with Robyn looking to spread the gospel of Christianity, while Zouga is more interested in making his fortune on this expedition. So the pair set out from England, heading to Africa on the boat of a slaver. A Falcon Flies then heads off in two directions, as do the two siblings. Zouga heads off to seek his fortune, while Robyn does her best to stop the slave trade, while wrestling with a complicated love triangle she finds herself in.

The followed up to A Falcon Flies is Men of Men, which was published a year after the first book in the series, 1981. Men of Men deals with the origins of the country of Rhodesia, which the British colonists named after Cecil Rhodes. We pick up Zouga Ballantyne’s story, and he now has a wife and two sons. Zouga, true to form, is continuing to seek fame and fortune, and has a lot to do with Cecil Rhodes. However, things do not pan out the way Zouga hopes, and it becomes down to the rest of the Ballantyne family, and a host of others to help Zouga. However, the events all seem to unfold into setting the groundwork for the birth of a nation, the nation of Rhodesia.

Men of Men is followed by The Angels Weep, which was published in 1982. The Angels Weep is set in two parts, with the first taking place in near the end of the 19th century, and the second part taking place in 1977. The story charts the fight of the indigenous population against the white settlers, and we again meet Ralph Ballantyne, the son of Zouga, as he becomes wrapped up in the civil uprising against the settlers. The Angels Weep then moves to 1977 as the country of Rhodesia struggles for its independence. The freedom fighters are met with force by Ballantyne Scouts, led by the great-grandson of Ralph Ballantyne, Roland, and Roland’s cousin, Craig Mellow. As you would expect, the fight is hard on both sides, and it becomes clear that many people will pay the ultimate price.

The Leopard Hunts in Darkness is the fourth book in the Ballantyne series, which was published in 1984.

In 2005, Wilbur Smith crossed over his Courtney series and the Ballantyne series with the book Triumph of the Sun. Triumph of the Sun is set in 1880s, so is chronologically the third book in the series, but it is the fifth and likely book to be published in the Ballantyne series. It is set during the siege of Khartoum in 1884 in Sudan. Businessman Ryder Courtney finds himself ordered to stay in Khartoum for his own safety. He meets Captain Penrod Ballantyne, as well as David Benbrook, who is the British Consul in Khartoum. Also with Benbrook are his daughters, and the eldest, Rebecca, becomes the affection for Penrod and Ryder. As you would expect, the course of love does not run smooth, and Rebecca finds herself in a great deal of peril before she finally ends up with the man she loves.

Ballantyne Awards

Author Wilbur Smith is regarded as a significant figure in the context of lobbying for sport hunting. This augured well for him with the WFSA proffering the Sport Shooting Award in 2002.

Ballantyne Books into TV Shows and Movies

Smith has written voraciously over the years. By the same token, there are various film adaptations of several of his books. The Mercenaries, a film which was released in 1968, is based on an epic novel published in 1965. Yvette Mimieux and fellow actor Rod Taylor are the starring actors.

Gold Mine, which is a book that was published in 1970, was adapted into a 1974 film called Gold; Roger Moore and Susanna York are the starring actors. The Kingfisher Caper, which is a 1975 film, is based on a 1971 book called The Diamond Hunters. Hayley Williams played the starring. Actors Lee Marvin and Roger Moore played starring roles in another film adaptation of a 1968 standalone novel. Wild Justice is a 1994 film based on a similarly titled 1979 book. There is a 1985 book called The Burning Shore and a respective film adaptation released in 1991. The starring actor is Isabella Gelinas.

In the context of TV series, there is The Diamond Hunter which was produced in 2001 featuring predominantly Sean Patrick Flanery. Roy Scheider starred in The Seventh Scroll, a TV series produced in 1999 and adapted from the author’s two novels–the 1993 and 1995 novels titled River God and The Seventh Scroll, respectively.

Best Ballantyne Books

The two best books in the Ballantyne series are; one, A Falcon Flies; and, two, Men of Men. The former book has already been described. The latter book, which is the second in the Ballantyne series, was published in 1981; it revolves around the cut-throat quest for diamonds where the locals are initially at the coalface but start stealing before segueing into rebels. Imperialism, wars, father-son feud, and love affairs are some of the aspects addressed.

Other Series You May Like

People who highly regarded the Ballantyne series also sought the following series. The first one is the “Nicholas Linnear” series penned by Eric Van Lustbader; it features an English-cum-Asian crimebuster called Nicholas Linnear.

The next is the “Alan Lewrie” series authored by Dewey Lambdin; it portrays Alan Lewrie and his exploits during historical naval wars notably among them the American Revolution.

Another notable series is the “Swann Saga” written by R. F. Delderfield. Like Wilbur Smith’s series, this is a family saga featuring Adam Swann, a war veteran and whose quest for a noble suitor takes him from India to London to English countryside during the Victorian reign. It also features his children’s professions during Imperial England.

Ballantyne FAQs

Q: Who writes the Ballantyne series of books?

A: The prolific author Wilbur Smith writes the Ballantyne series of books.

Q: What is the first book in the Ballantyne series of books?

A: The first book in the Ballantyne series is A Falcon Flies, which was published in 1980.