One man. Three sons. A powerful destiny waiting to unfold.
Monsoon is the sweeping epic that continues the saga begun in Wilbur Smith's bestselling Birds of Prey. Once a voracious adventurer, it has been many years since Hal Courtney has dared the high seas. Now he must return with three of his sons - Tom, Dorian, and Guy - to protect the East India Trading Company from looting pirates, in exchange for half of the fortune he recovers.
It will be a death or glory mission in the name of the crown. But Hal must also think about the fates of his sons. Like their father before them, Tom, Dorian, and Guy are drawn inexorably to Africa. When fate decrees that they must all leave England forever, they set said for the dark, unexplored continent, seduced by the allure and mystery of this new, magnificent, but savage land. All will have a crucial part to play in shaping the Courtneys' destiny, as the family vies for a prize beyond any of their dreams.
In a story of anger and passion, peace and war, Wilbur Smith evinces himself at the height of his storytelling powers. Set at the dawn of eighteenth-century England, with the Courtneys riding wind-tossed seas toward Arabia and Africa, Monsoon is an exhilarating adventure pitting brother against brother, man against sea, and good against evil.
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Thomas Dunne Books
April 01, 1999
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Excerpt from Monsoon by Wilbur Smith
CHAPTER 1 The three boys came up through the gill behind the chapel, so that they were hidden from the big house and the stables. Tom, the eldest, led them as he always did, but the youngest brother was close on his heels, and when Tom paused where the stream made its first turn above the village he renewed his argument. 'Why do I always have to be the cat? Why can I never join in the fun, Tom?' 'Because you are the littlest,' Tom told him, with lordly authority. He was surveying the tiny hamlet below them, which was now visible in the slot of the ravine. Smoke was rising from the forge in the smithy, and washing flapped in the easterly breeze behind the Widow Evans's cottage, but there was no sign of human life. At this time of day most of the men would be out in his father's fields, for the harvest was in full swing, while those women who were not toiling beside them would be at work in the big house. Tom grinned with satisfaction and anticipation. 'No one's spotted us.' No one to carry reports back to their father. 'It's not fair.' Dorian was not so easily distracted from his argument. His coppery gold curls spilled down on to his forehead, giving him the look of an angry cherub. 'You never let me do anything.' 'Who let you fly his hawk last week? I did.' Tom rounded on him. 'Who let you fire his musket yesterday? I did. Who let you steer the cutter' 'Yes, but-' 'But me no buts.' Tom glowered at him. 'Who's the captain of this crew, anyway?' 'You are, Tom.' Dorian dropped his green eyes under the force of his elder brother's stare. 'But, still-' 'You can go with Tom in my place, if you want.' Guy spoke softly for the first time. 'I'll play the cat.' Tom turned to his younger twin, while Dorian exclaimed, 'Can I, Guy? Will you really?' It was p0only when he smiled that his full beauty burst out, like sunlight through parting clouds. 'No, he won't!' Tom cut in. 'Dorry's only a baby. He can't come. He'll stay on the roof to keep the cat.' 'I'm not a baby,' Dorian protested furiously. 'I'm nearly eleven.' 'If you're not a baby, show us your ball hairs,' Tom challenged him. Since he had sprouted his own, these had become Tom's yardstick of seniority. Dorian ignored him, he had not even a pale ginger fluff to match the impressive growth of his elder brother. He went on to another tack. 'I'll just watch, that's all.' 'Yes, you'll watch from the roof.' Tom killed the argument dead in its tracks. 'Come on! We'll be late.' He struck out up the steep ravine. The other two trailed after him with varying degrees of reluctance. 'Who could come anyway?' Dorian persisted. 'Everybody's busy. Even we should be helping.' 'Black Billy could come,' Tom replied, without looking back. That name silenced even Dorian. Black Billy was the oldest Courtney son. His mother had been an Ethiopian princess whom Sir Hal Courtney had brought back from Africa when he returned from his first voyage to that mystic continent. A royal bride and a shipload of treasure plundered from the Dutch and the pagan, a vast fortune with which their father had more than doubled the acreage of his ancient estate, and in so doing had elevated the family to among the wealthiest in all Devon, rivaling even the Grenvilles. William Courtney, Black Billy to his younger half-brothers, was almost twenty-four, seven years older than the twins. He was clever, ruthless, handsome, in a dark wolf-like way, and his younger brothers feared and hated him with good reason. The threat of his name made Dorian shiver, and they climbed the last half-mile in silence. At last they left the stream and approached the rim, pausing under the big oak where the hen harrier had nested last spring. Tom flopped down against the bole of the tree to catch his breath. 'If this wind holds we can go sailing in the morning,' he announced, as he rem