Wilbur Smith, born in Central Africa in 1933, has written so many books about Africa, Eqypt, and places in between that it is going to be quite the project to review them all. The first group, The Courtneys, starts the saga of a family that immigrated to Africa in the 1800's. This story takes place in early 1874 and spans approximately 10 years.
The main characters are Sean and Garrick Courtney, twin sons of Waite and Ada Courtney. Sean, the older, taller and more assertive twin has a penchant for the reckless while Garrick is thin, more subdued and studious. They are both around 14 when the story opens, living on the family farm and getting in trouble when not in school.
A tragic hunting accident causes Garrick to loose one of his legs due to Sean's carelessness and that incident drives the entire story line. Sean is interested in girls, hunting, girls and hunting. Garrick is a book worm, and is protected by Sean from their schoolmates. When the boys are expelled from the local boarding school, Waite decides its time for them to learn to help run the farm that they will inherit one day.
Unfortunately, Garrick is not interested and constantly messes up and Sean has to cover for him. Sean, in the meantime, tkaes to the life of hunter, farmer, "cattle baron" like a fish to water. He also seduces a local girl that will eventually cause his departure from his home.
During this time, there are major problems with the local Zulu tribes and all the locals, as well as a British force are called on to protect the area from the murderous tribes. A series of battles and raids cost many lives and bring devastation to the Courtney family. An unfortunate report of Sean's death causes Garrick to marry, and, on his return, for sean to leave his home.
Sean's adventures as he treks across Africa, meets up with a slick English chap, Dufford Charleywood and their adventures in the bars and saloons of places like Pretoria, the gold strike in Witswaterand, and search for ivory in the Wilderness are compelling and give the reader a true understanding of the harshness of the land and the strength of the men who eventually tamed it. You will meet Boers and Afrikanners, Zulu warriors and gold diggers, sly businessmen and women of dubious persuasion.
If you want a really good start on a family saga that will eventually span 11 books (and probably more if Wilbur Smith doesn't die soon) and teach you so much of a country that so many of us will never have the chance to visit, I strongly suggest you start here. This is a page turner, a relatively easy read and you will want to pick up the next one as soon as you finish When the Lion Feeds!
Title: When the Lion Feeds