I have been an avid Wilbur Smith fan since the age of 14 when I first plundered the library for a copy of When The Lion Feeds.Since then I have avidly devoured all of his serialised novels and four of his other ones.The discovery that he'd gone back in time to the early roots of the Courtney(or should that be Courteney?)family had me breaking down the doors of the nearest book shop. Up till now we'd been used to the idea of members of the Courtney family fighting their battles in the jungle or in the boardroom,so having the new slant of seafarers in their earlier generations injected new enthusiasm into it. Wilbur Smith lays the innermost feelings and emotions of his characters bare and exposed for us to see.Even the restrained and dignified Sir Francis Courteney has feelings,as Smith reveals in his narrative without confusing the image that the other characters in the book have of him. The adventure unfolds over a period of years,taking Hal Courteney from a youth of 17,into his eraly 20's.In that time he experiences everything you could think of:lust,love,betrayal,comeradeship,adventure,etc etc etc.The sexual scenes are described with language more explicit than we are used to seeing in Smith's books,but I was left with the feeling that Smith was more focused on Hal's betrayer than his other lovers,who he really feels something genuine for.Perhaps Smith finds his female villains more captivating than his heroines;I know I do! If you can stomach reading a novel this huge,(554 pages in the hardback edition)then you won't be sorry for getting a copy of this.It has everything and does'nt really fit into any one specific genre because romance,adventure and any other subject you can think of,are covered in this one novel,more than they would be in any smaller,specialist book. Long may this author live and long may he keep writing material of this calibre!