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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Rigours of Life at Sea
Having read Wilbur Smith's books about Taita's adventures in Egypt (River God, Warlock and The Seventh Scroll) I'd got a taste for his exciting, descriptive and involving style of writing and I felt like I was at a loose end when I knew that 'that was it' for his Egyptian stuff.
Tentatively, I picked up Birds of Prey, and although it was a bit of effort to get into...
Published on 10 Sept. 2004 by Chris from Peterborough

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars boring books
bought this for a friend who reads a book every 2 days or so and got a fairly negative reaction when i said was it any good.instantly forgettable.book did arrive pretty quickly after 1st one was lost in post so thanks for sending out a replacement so quickly after i complained
Published 17 months ago by stephen fuller


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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Rigours of Life at Sea, 10 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
Having read Wilbur Smith's books about Taita's adventures in Egypt (River God, Warlock and The Seventh Scroll) I'd got a taste for his exciting, descriptive and involving style of writing and I felt like I was at a loose end when I knew that 'that was it' for his Egyptian stuff.
Tentatively, I picked up Birds of Prey, and although it was a bit of effort to get into at first (I later discovered this book is in the middle of 'The Courtneys' series) I soon found I couldn't put it down and became a recluse for the next few days.
As with so many of Smith's books the clever story line follows surprising twists and turns at a furious pace, yet always stays descriptive enough to let you really experience what the characters go through, victorious elation, love, heartache, torture and gore..
I was never really a great fan of any adventures at sea, but THIS BOOK CHANGED ALL THAT. It got me hooked on the Courtney novels. Having since read the two sequels after Birds of Prey I've been unable to prevent myself from ordering the first three books in the Courtney series too. Once I've read those I'll probably re-read this one again and I'm sure I'll pick up on a whole lot of finer points and detail I missed in the excitement the first time around!
If you'd like to have the advantage of starting at the beginning of the series, they're listed here in order:
When the Lion Feeds
The Sound of Thunder
A Sparrow Falls
BIRDS OF PREY
Monsoon
Blue Horizon
Enjoy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Tangent On The Courtneys, 27 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Birds of Prey (Audio Cassette)
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!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More From The Courtneys, 29 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
I have devoured every word of the Courtney novels and was pleased to see that this book would look at the early roots of the family. Smith writes better about the past than he does the present and this is no exception. Never dull and always asking you to turn to the next page, Birds Of Prey is full of vintage Smith: violence, conflict, sex and rich detail. Whilst Smith's characters are always sterotypes we can relate to them and,in many cases,envy them. I can't wait to see how this series of Courtney adventures joins up with his earlier novels to from a 400 year history of the Courtney family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 26 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
Birds Of Prey follows the Courtney family back about 300 years. It startswith an introduction to 17 year old Hal Courtney and his father SirFrancis aboard the ship the Lady Edwina. Sir Francis is a privateersailing under letters of marke from the king. He is betrayed by a brotherknight and cruelly tortured and executed. It is then up to Hal to savethe day, followed by his trusty friends Aboli, Ned Tyler and DanielFisher. Later his loves Sukena and Judith appear.
This is a wonderfulbook from Wilbur Smith. It is very long, but unlike so many other booksof this size, it keeps moving and every page has a new and excitingsituation to explore.
I only have 2 critisms of this book. The mostspecific is that the 'good guy' characters are just too perfect. It is atheme that runs throughout Wilbur Smiths books. In my opinion, they wouldbe all the more intreging if the good guys had a few flaws to theircharacters.
Like all his books, Smith is in his element when exploring the distantpast, rather than the more 'modern books'.
Am I the only one thatwould like to see him move out of Africa for a setting? Personally, Iwould love to see how Smith would handle a book set in Europe or theAmericas.
Still, a great book that had me hooked from beginning to end! Read it andfinish feeling like you have actually learnt something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally descriptive, 21 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
Have almost finished this book (50 pages to go) and have enjoyed every word written. This book is primarily centred around a seafaring story, a bit of a break from the traditional Smith storyline but this seems to embellish the enjoyment of the book rather than detract from it. All the Courtney series are exceptional in their own right and this one does not break the mould. Their are some great characters in here, with the usual characteristics of loyalty and bravery from the good guys, and absolute debauchery from the villains (Katinka is a case in point). Once again Mr Smith makes you run the gamut of all emotions, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I have deliberately not given any of the storyline away - trust me as a discerning reader and buy this book. You will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable History Lesson!, 20 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
What an enjoyable read. True escapism, you almost feel the sea spray on your face and if you read this book on a train, the motion could lull you into to thinking your on the deck of the ship. School curricular would do well to think about using this text, leaving certain aspect's out, to enhance history lessons covering that period of time. My only regret is that I read 'Monsoon' which was the sequel, even so this was, again, most enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting old friends, 12 Feb. 2013
By 
Mr. Eric Drewe (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birds Of Prey (The Courtneys Series Book 9) (Kindle Edition)
I have just re-read this on kindle, i first read this over 25 years ago and it was just as hard to put down this time as before. The detail that Wilbur Smith describes the subject, it's just as if you are living the part.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great adventure book, 8 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birds Of Prey (The Courtneys Series Book 9) (Kindle Edition)
I have to admit I had never heard of Wilbour Smith up till a month ago, when my sister-in-law gave me, as a gift, a Kindle voucher and recommended I try this book. It took me a while to get used to the style and the vocabulary (thankfully Kindle has an in-built dictionary :), but after about 20 pages I was hooked. I did have parts that I enjoyed more than others (the fight scenes are not my favourites but I even read those) but all in all this book got me hooked and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone interested in history (for family connections to me the era and places this book is set in were interesting) and likes adventure books. I may have to check out other books of his now!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Birds of Prey' Will Blow You Away!, 29 Oct. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
'Birds of Prey' is a great story which throws you onto the deck of Hal Courtney's ship and takes you for the ride of your life. Hal is a young man learning how to fight and win life's battles from his domineering father. You will be travelling with Hal from the very brink of destitution, up to the lofty peek of riches and glory, and back again once more. You can check out information on this great novel as well as over 20 other adventures at the Wilbur Smith Web Page.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exuberant and engaging action, however wildly improbable, 21 Jan. 2003
By 
Mr. Joe (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birds Of Prey : (Paperback)
In BIRDS OF PREY, it is the year 1667, and we are introduced to the 17-year old Englishman, Hal Courteney. Hal is a crewmember on his father's ship, the "Lady Edwina", as it sails the high seas off the southern tip of Africa. England is at war with the Dutch Republic, and the ship's captain, Sir Francis Courteney, has been given license by the British Admiralty to prey on Dutch trading ships of the United East India Company as they return to Amsterdam from the East Indies via the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope. Sir Francis captures a Dutch ship carrying the newly appointed Governor of Good Hope and his wife, Katinka. During the period when the Governor and his wife are held for ransom, Hal loses his virginity to Katinka, a sadistic, treacherous, highborn slut. (Well, good breeding isn't everything.) Subsequently, Sir Francis, Hal and the rest of the Lady Edwina's company are betrayed by a former ally, the Scottish Earl of Cumbrae, with the help of a former crewmember, Sam Bowles, and imprisoned at Good Hope. Sir Francis is brutally tortured and executed. Hal and a handful of survivors later escape, acquire another ship, and go on to defeat their primary tormentors, Cumbrae and a Dutch army colonel named Schreuder, against the backdrop of a war between the Christian Emperor of Ethiopia and the Moslem Sultan of Oman. Along the way, Hal inherits his father's captaincy and finds true love (as opposed to hormonal-driven sex with Katinka) - twice.
As painted by the author, Wilbur Smith, the chief characters of this swashbuckling adventure are almost caricatures. The "good guys" - principally Hal and his loyal buddies, Aboli, Ned, and Daniel - are brave, noble and heroic. The "bad guys" - Katinka, Governor van de Velde, Bowles, Cumbrae, and Schreuder - are cruel, dishonorable and totally vile. The action, much as in Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones film trilogy, is wildly improbable, especially over the book's latter half. Similarly, however, that same action is scripted with such exuberance and energy that it's totally engaging. Finally, I read to be transported to places that, in most cases, I will never visit. I doubt that I shall ever ply the Indian Ocean or South Atlantic aboard a frigate under sail. This book took me there in grand style.
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