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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well I couldn't put it down...
Wilbur Smith's story of a young big game hunter captivates you from the opening pages with its distinguished, convincing and evocative descriptions of colonial Africa. Whether you have visited Africa or not, an enriching experience of the continent is in store as the author transports you to confrontations with the big five, altercations with rebels, and the ghostly...
Published on 4 April 2009 by Mr. S. M. Davies

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another day at the office
Back in the mid to late seventies when I was a young teen, a friend of mine persuaded me to put down the James Bond books and pick up 'Shout at the Devil' by Wilbur Smith. We spent the next two years nicking them off our parents, hunting them down in bric a brac shops and bartering, lending and swapping grubby and battered 'Smith's' in the playground. 'When the lion...
Published on 29 April 2010 by Mr. A. I. Harrison


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another day at the office, 29 April 2010
This review is from: Assegai (Paperback)
Back in the mid to late seventies when I was a young teen, a friend of mine persuaded me to put down the James Bond books and pick up 'Shout at the Devil' by Wilbur Smith. We spent the next two years nicking them off our parents, hunting them down in bric a brac shops and bartering, lending and swapping grubby and battered 'Smith's' in the playground. 'When the lion feeds', 'A sparrow falls', 'The dark of the sun', 'Sunbird' and more, all transported a couple of lads from rural Somerset to the plains of Africa. Action, adventure, sex and the exotic and untamed wilds of the dark continent! We couldn't get enough of them.

Now thirty years on I am afraid the magic has pretty much evaporated in the heat of the Sahara sun! Is this because Smith's powers have waned or I am now an old, haggered, cynical and miserable old git! Well I suspect a bit of both.

This book actually starts quite well, a battle, a daring escape and a court martial all in the first 100 pages or so. However then it seemed Smith just seemed to switch into auto pilot mode. The action became predictable, the dialogue absolutely terrible and there a couple of hundred pages of big game hunting. There is often a bit of this, it's never really done it for me. I've never quite understood the 'Wow what a fantastic beast, let's shoot it and skin it!'
Just as I was thinking of putting it down, the plot picked up with a bit of pre WWI intrigue. The hero (A Courtney) is persuaded to use his Big Game hunter status as cover to spy on the German activity in East Africa, whilst Germany sends Count Otto Von Meerbach into action to spy and stir up trouble on British East Africa. He is accompanied by his enigmatic mistress Eva. As the sexual tensions build between Courtney and Eva, Otto goads Courtney into ever more reckless hunting feats and as the political stakes ramp up! Things start to shape up nicely!

But then Smith drops the ball! The inevitable love affair when it begins is sickly sweet and cliched. Von Meerbach morphs into a cross between Goldfinger and the Terminator! and rather than an in depth look at the conflict between the British and German factors, which is something that would really have interested me, Smith instead opts for a James Bond movie climax on a giant airship.

Last grumble, why does pretty much every Wilbur Smith book have to feature a Courtney? why not a Benson, a Frampton or something? The original Sean Courtney was a fully realised and great charactor but why make the hero of every subsequent story an ancestor or heir of him. Is it possible every male generation of a single family is a super human, brave, beautiful natural leader of men blessed with the luck of the Gods? It does irk me!

In summary the book has some good bits and devotees of WS will no doubt enjoy it. Readers new to Smith would do much better to delve deeper into his back catalogue and work forwards.
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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well I couldn't put it down..., 4 April 2009
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This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
Wilbur Smith's story of a young big game hunter captivates you from the opening pages with its distinguished, convincing and evocative descriptions of colonial Africa. Whether you have visited Africa or not, an enriching experience of the continent is in store as the author transports you to confrontations with the big five, altercations with rebels, and the ghostly visions from the hero, Leon Courtney's, past, present and future.

The book is a page turner not just for an well-conceived plot. As 'Assegai' demonstrates in every lucid description, Wilbur Smith is a genuine writer, and a stylist of distinction. The writing is a joy to read. The cultural details expand upon the plot and never seem tacked on. The novel illuminates a crucial juncture in early twentieth century history, the steep incline to the First World War, the problems and pitfalls of imperialism.

What is most impressive is the way in which Smith marshalls and orchestrates the structure of this plot and his characters. The way the novel segues from a straightforward action and suspense largely focussed on Masai rituals and customs, to a Western intrigue in which Courteney is essentially the outsider looking in on the west is seemless. This deepens the characterisation of Courtney and genuinely questions ideas of national identity.

I have a few issues with some of the characters (Snell is your archetypal pen-pushing underachiever with an axe to grind), and sometimes the portrayal of Africans and their deference to the physically and morally excellent Courtney is a bit too conventional, but what's important is their interrelationships and interiorirty, and these have a palapable veracity at their core.

If you're a fan of Smith work then this is another winner. For new readers, expect a well-orchestrated plot where the perspective and identity of the protagonist is adjusted by the uncontrollable events around him, either by supernatural fate or the growing, undeniable reality of war. Above all, expect good writing and an enveloping experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time and money, 7 Mar 2011
This review is from: Assegai (Paperback)
I have read every book from Mr Smith for over 30 years, some I've read 3 or 4 times but this one will not be read again! If any people reading this review have not read any of this authors books then I recommend you start reading them in chronological order and stop a couple of books before this one. I would use the term 'the author has lost the plot' but with this book there didn't appear to be one to lose!

The first 200 pages took time I will never regain and were so irrelevant to anything that I wondered why on earth he had written them. Throughout the book, I found the constant reference to the, at times, quite graphic acount of the slaughter of wild animals disturbing (yes, I understand that no animals were harmed in the writing of this fictitious novel!!). Mr Smith has described these types of killings before but never in such glorified detail, it really did typify the very poor standard of the book. The main storyline (after the first 200 pages of pointless indulgence) was laughable and as shallow as a Sun newspaper exclusive. There was very little that resembled anything close to Mr Smiths earlier (many years ago) high standards and this has followed a downward spiral over the last few books.

The apparent waste of money by buying the book doesn't bother me, I've bought other poor books but I have this overwhelming feeling of being cheated like buying the much anticipated sports car only to find it's got a clapped out Skoda engine.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing again..., 19 Oct 2009
By 
This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
After the dreadful drivel of The Quest I was hoping for better when I saw he'd gone back to the area in which he had so much of his original success with the fabulous Courtney sagas - the books that got me hooked on his writing in the first place. Well this is better - but not much.

This may turn out to be the first time ever I've not bought a Wilbur Smith book on the publication of the paperback, preferring instead to borrow it from the library and frankly not really considering it worth spending the money to buy my own copy.

The plot is weak, predictable and full of holes. The characters are so stereo-typed that I found it hard to suspend my disbelief as Leon goes from rags to riches in 150 pages, with every woman falling for him and every native African willing to sacrifice his life for him. The love stories are naive and the hunting descriptions get tedious even if you don't find the "blood and gore" an issue.

Please Wilbur, get back to your roots and write something like The Sunbird or The Sound of Thunder. if you can't do that then maybe you should quit now before you write any more of this rubbish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another blockbuster from the master of African tales, 6 April 2009
By 
Mr. D. W. Rees (Cheshire.UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
Having been hooked on Wilbur Smith for many years,I was not disappointed by Assegai.Again he shows his immense knowledge of Africa through the years.Although I enjoy his Egyptian books,there is nothing to match his Courtney sagas.Since reading his first Courtney book ,When the lion feeds,I have avidly followed the trials & tribulations of the generations.Assegai does not disappoint,the heroics of Leon & his Masai friends kept me glued until the end.As usual his big game hunting is thrilling,as well as his amourous adventures.I reccomend it unreservedly & can,t wait for his next book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics, 12 April 2009
This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
I'm one of those who felt that WS had "lost" his way.
When I read the first page and saw the names Courtney and Ballantyne I thought it was going to be one of his family interlaced novels- and my heart sank. Many might enjoy the latter sagas but I got bored after the Rhodesian Civil War books.

So, as I turned the pages, I was delighted to realise he had just used surnames.
This story whilst not up to the very early Courtney books- Sound of Thunder etc- is a very good read.

Yes there are the "usual suspects",
Beautiful woman- murky history
Powerful villain- but unstable
Heroic young officer- dashing/brave/lucky/impulsive
Trusted companions
Wise woman/soothsayer
Crusty benefactors
4 or so pages where the main 2 characters "find" each other and swear undying love- adds nothing to the story because WS leads you so well you know how the outcome without having to see a picture;
and some interesting- and not always entirely believable- moments and twists

"Well Done" Mr Smith.
A very good book
So descriptive I can taste the dust, feel the heat and smell the aroma of Africa.

You are back on my book shelf!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The slow demise of Wilbur, 22 Oct 2010
I have read all of Wilbur Smiths books, many of them several times. His descriptions of hunting,fishing, animals and the African and Egyptian topography and history are unmatched. However in his last half dozen or so works he ruins a superb narrative by peppering his story with Mills and Boon slush. Assegai is no exception. How come every waif his hero picks up along the way turns out to be a prince or princess? I shall never forget a sentence in one of his recent books when our hugely rough and ready hero said tothe object of his lust. " let me put my tammy into your quimmy!!!!!!" That had me reaching for the vomit bucket. I dont know if we will be hearing much more from Wilbur, he is getting on a bit now, and it shows!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blunt Spear, 10 Oct 2009
By 
Nauticalnod (Stafford, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
A good read but not one of his best. The middle part of the story seemed to drag and the end was rather abrupt. I have to admit to prefering his earlier novels of thirty years ago but still an excellent author with obvious meticulous research into his subject.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Assegai, 21 April 2009
By 
J. Deane (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
Ive read every Wilbur Smith book and loved them but I thought his last book wasnt his best, and I thought he had started to lose it. But... Guess what? He's back!! This is a rattling good read just like his early books. I think he's just gone back to doing what he knows best. Nobody writes a bloody good adventure like him and this is no exception. Its great
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than before, 7 April 2009
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This review is from: Assegai (Hardcover)
After trying to read hs last two books, I was beginning to wonder if Wilbur Smith was loosing his touch. However this places him right back on top. Back in the heart of Africa, with Africans and Europeans working together to protect all that is beautiful about Africa. It's not his best, but definitly excels his previous two works.
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