The writer has been around for more than four decades, I discovered him only two months ago in Starbucks thanks to their iTunes and iBooks and iCrap cooperation.
I picked up a curious little card with an image of a silhouette of a diver and a cheesy title of Eye of the Tiger. When something is free and has words like "tiger" and scuba divers on it, I take it without a second thought, not much of an iPhone reader though... But I downloaded it and synced it in anyway.
A shady main character with a very brutal past and a cocky disposition (I hate the guy, which makes me love the situation he's in more and more!) hides from his past on a small island off the West African cost. He's a deep sea fisherman and a self proclaimed playboy now, and now someone questionable hires him and his boat for a couple of days to search around the coastal islands, this someone even recognises him... here's where shit gets epic.
There's adventure (oh the adventure!), action, sea drama and romance. I loved it.
Everything is very detailed and factual, there aren't any moments in the story that make you stop and wonder about how that would be possible or how stuff works because Smith strips things down to the reader to the bone, by that never interrupting the flow.
I found out that Smith grew up in Central Africa and knows what the fuck is up, which makes him a damn good read.
Two days later I purchased my next Wilbur Smith book "Elephant Song".
A chapter in to it and I was in tears. The story unfolds in a National Park in Zimbabwe, one of the last remaining parks in the area to manage a large amount of elephant herds. The sad truth of local overpopulation is explained (elephants feed by uprooting many trees and one park can't hold too many elephants) and the need for culling is brought in. A very powerful and brutal opening to the tragedy of the situation and a description to how reluctantly legal ivory is obtained by the "goodie" park keepers.
Well, that doesn't last, basically, "goodies" get brutally murdered (with WAY TOO MUCH DETAIL) and our character, who narrowly escapes this fate, is out to get the bad guys with the help of some female London anthropologist whom I am still not acquainted with in the book but is mentioned in the blurb.
My only criticism towards the writing in "The Eye of the Tiger" is the slight sexism. I'm not sure if it's the first person characterisation of Harry Flecher's or the writer slipping through, but it irked me a little in a few moments of the book. However according to the dedication he's all about the respect to his ohgodsoawesome wife.
The detailed gore, themes of rape, predominantly male leads and general style makes me assume the the books more targeted at a male audience (okay, maybe it's because when I was looking through the bookshop a 40-50 year old man overheard me asking for Wilbur Smith and almost peed his pants with joy and you don't get that when inquiring about Eat, Pray, Love), but I like that kind of thing.
I shall continue reading the Elephant Song and will post a more detailed review of it in a couple of weeks.
- Wilbur Smith - the treasure