The Courtney family members and their subsequent offspring are the featured protagonists in the respective Courtney series of books authored by Wilbur Smith. Sometimes the books contained therein are simply titled Courtney, albeit numbered. This series, which features several generations and transcends centuries, has an autobiographical element. Incidentally, there are tens of editions of the first novel in the aforementioned series. However, the earliest edition of the first novel portraying the first Courtney family member was published in 1964 called Courtney 1, and this series is shelved under the historical fiction and adventure fiction genres.
Order of Courtney Series
|1||When the Lion Feeds||1964|
|2||The Sound of Thunder||1966|
|3||A Sparrow Falls||1977|
|4||The Burning Shore||1985|
|5||Power of the Sword||1986|
|7||A Time to Die||1989|
|9||Birds of Prey||1997|
|12||The Triumph of the Sun||2005|
The Courtney series of books is an series of 13 books published by the South African author Wilbur Smith. The series charts the story of the Courtney family through the years, from 1860 until 1987. Of the 13 books, the first 3 in the series chronicles the Courtney twins, Sean and Garrick, from the 1860s until 1925. The second part of the series, which consists of five books, charts the life of Centaine de Thrity Courtney and her offspring. The final part of the series goes back to the 1660s, is another series of five books, and looks are several generations of the Courtney family up until 1918. The Courtney series is just one of Wilbur Smith’s epic series, but it perhaps his best-known.
The first book in the Courtney series of books is When the Lion Feeds, which is also the first book Wilbur Smith had published. It was released in 1964, and it is set between the 1860s and the 1890s during the Anglo-Zulu War. When the Lion Feeds introduces the read to the character of Sean and Garrick Courtney, brothers who, while completely different personality wise, are closer than most. While various setbacks conspire to hold the brothers back, including Garrick losing a limb, it is what happens during their battles during the war that ultimately changes the course of both their lives. When the Lion Feeds looks at what happens to two paths when they meet a fork in the road, and what large differences a small decision can ultimately make to two lives. To this day, Smith claims this is one of his favourite books, purely because it was the first one he had published. The writes were bought to make a film adaptation, but nothing ever materialised.
Following When the Lion Feeds, Smith continued the story of Sean and Garrick Courtney in The Sound of Thunder. The Sound of Thunder was published in 1966. Smith then took over a decade to complete the story of the brothers with the publication of A Sparrow Falls, which was published in 1977. While The Sound of Thunder was set during the Boer War, A Sparrow Falls takes place during World War One.
Following the success of the story of the Courtney brothers, Smith continued the story of the Courtney family in The Burning Shore, which was published in 1985. It is set during World War One, with the introduction of Michael Courtney, who falls for a French woman named Centaine, whom he plans to marry. However, tragedy befalls the couple, and the pregnant Centaine heads off trying to change the course of her life, and ends up on a journey that will change her forever.
The Burning Shore was followed up in 1986 by Power of the Sword in 1986, which is set during World War Two. We again meet Centaine, who now has a family to care for. Power of the Sword charts the ups and downs of Centaine and her sons. Rage, which was published in 1987, is the next book in the series, followed by A Time To Die, which was published in 1987, followed by golden Fox, which was published in 1990. However, Golden Fox is set before A Time To Die in the Courtney timeline.
The final part of the Courtney series begins with Birds of Prey, which is set in the 1660s. While it is the ninth book published in the Courtney series of books, it is, chronologically, the first book in the series. It looks at the beginnings of the Courtney family, and how they were pirates. We are introduced to Sir Francis Courtney and his son, Hal, as they attack the vessels of the Dutch East India Company. However, when the father and son are betrayed, things start to spiral out of control. Birds of Prey was published in 1997.
Birds of Prey was followed by Monsoon, which was published in 1999. Blue Horizon followed in 2003, which brings the story up to the 1730s. The Triumph of the Sun crosses the Courtney series and Smith’s Ballantyne series, and was published in 2005. This was then followed by Assegai, which was published in 2009.
Basically, the plot in the serialized Courtney revolves around the Courtney family tree. Ordinarily, the said series starts from the first generation of the Courtneys; through the second generation, third, forth, fifth, sixth, and seventh generations. It begins especially with the Waite Courtney and Alice Courtney, male and female, respectively, and parents who begat twins Garrick Courtney and Sean Courtney; and the last entry in the series, The Golden Lion–the respective omnibuses aside–ends especially with Henry Courtney.
All in all, the story of the Courtney family members might not be necessarily an out-and-out rags-to-riches story. Even then the then Courtney family was not anything to write home about and it transitioned from living off the land to, in subsequent generations, being noteworthy and living off the fat of the land.
The first book in the series, Courtney 1, starts in the wake of the births of Sean Courtney and Garrick. Sean and Garrick, who are twins, are unique in their own right. For instance, physically, Sir Garrick Courtney Sr resembles a girl and his pink eyes are evident of recurring allergic rhinitis. Contrary, Sir Sean Courtney Sr taller is tall, heavy and well build. Previously working in a farm, he proved his mettle in the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. Generally, the book shows the twins’ formative years, young adulthood, and their ambitions which, in the run-up to the said war, (notably Sean’s ambition) was merely becoming prosperous cattle farmers and well-versed in fighting. The dark side of wars, heroic wartime actions, and merrymaking are notable themes, and the series cements Wilbur Smith’s writing masterly in adventure stories; it won Wilbur Smith a sport shooting award.
Wilbur Smith has been hailed as a notable voice for sport hunting activities. It is in this light that, in 2002, Smith clinched the Sport Shooting Award from WFSA.
Courtney Books into Movies/ TV Shows
Many books authored by Wilbur Smith have been made into movies and TV series. The following are the film adaptations of his literary works. Wilbur Smith’s 1965 epic novel was made into a movie which was released in 1968, which is sometimes called The Mercenaries. Australian actor Rod Taylor alongside American actress Yvette Mimieux are the starring actors.
Smith’s 1970 book titled Gold Mine was turned into a movie; it was released in 1974, titled Gold, and the starring is Roger Moore and co-star Susanna York. His 1971 book titled The Diamond Hunters became the 1975 film called The Kingfisher Caper; Hayley Mills is the starring. His 1968 standalone book was filmed and produced in 1976 with similar title, with Lee Marvin and Roger Moore as starring actors. The 1979 novel Wild Justice has a film adaptation also called Wild Justice (1994). The Burning Shore novel and film, produced in 1985 and 1991, respectively, stars Isabella Gelinas.
There are also TV series. The Diamond Hunters, a TV series, was released in 2001 and the starring is Sean Patrick Flanery. Another TV series is Wild Justice or Covert Assassin, released in 1994. There is a 1999 TV series called The Seventh Scroll also starring Roy Scheider; it is based on Wilbur Smith’s 1993 book called River God and the 1995 one called The Seventh Scroll.
Best Courtney Books
The following are two of the best books in the Courtney series.
Courtney 1: The first, which has already been discussed, is Courtney 1; another one is Sound of Thunder.
Sound of Thunder: This is the second book in the Courtney series and was published in 1966. Hereby, Sean Courtney is looking forward to family life and has farming ambitions after a stint fighting the Boers. But his other chagrined twin brother, Garrick, whom he has overshadowed his whole life is hellbent on scuttling Sean’s efforts.
Other Books You May Like
People who read the Courtney series were also interested in the following series. The first one is “The Starbuck Chronicles” authored by Bernard Cornwell; like the Courtney series, it is historical and features protagonist Nathaniel Starbuck, a confederate army officer, in the American Civil War.
Another one is the “Eagle” series written by Simon Scarrow; this features military officers loyal to the Imperial Roman Army during Roman Emperor Claudius’ era. The Warrior of Rome, penned by Harry Sidebottom, is another one; it features the Imperial Crisis which rocked the Roman Empire around mid-third AD.
Q: Who writes the Courtney series of books?
A: The Courtney series of books are written by the legendary author Wilbur Smith.
Q: What is the first book in the Courtney series of books?
A: The first book published in the Courtney series of books is When the Lion Feeds, which is set in the 19th century, and was published in 1964. However, the first book chronologically is Birds of Prey, which is set in the 1660s, and was published in 1997.